Filed under: Family Camping, Family Day Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
The Forest in Winter
Several weeks ago I wrote a post about hiking the Picuris Peak Trail with our son, Ryan, when he was with us this past summer. During the month of August our youngest daughter Meghan joined us and was interested in spending some time out of doors. More a biker than hiker, we decided to take Meg to the same trail for a bike ride along that forest road. However, the rutted and hilly roads that were simple to navigate when hiking proved much the opposite when operating on two wheels. After about 15 minutes, Meghan called it quits and proceeded to walk her bike back to the car. In my mind, that was to be the end of our time on that trail until the following summer; but I was mistaken.
In fall, Terry and I ventured out to that same area of the Kit Carson National Forest to cut firewood for winter. We found the forest road reasonably navigable in our Durango and also noted the abundance of 8-10 foot evergreen trees, suitable for Christmas trees. The day before Thanksgiving, permits to cut trees in the national forest went on sale for $5. We saw this as a sound investment, having paid much higher amounts for trees in years past. We also had an ideal location in mind to go to locate one.
On Thanksgiving Day, after our turkey dinner was consumed and dishes done, the four of us headed out to our favorite forest road to find our tree. It was quite the adventure; scouring the forest for just the right tree for our now nine and a half foot ceilings. We finally found the perfect tree, Terry and Ryan chopped it down and we all helped carry it back to the car.
During that process, we also noted one other purpose for which our favorite forest road and its surrounding area would be well suited. A light snow cover had fallen over the large meadow alongside the road, making it an ideal place for one of our favorite pastimes: cross-country skiing. While the snow had largely melted off by the time we arrived, we knew there would be more and our idea was sound.
One Saturday just before the holidays and shortly after a fresh snowfall of about five inches, Terry and I packed our skis, donned our ski boots and headed out. Planning to stick to the large open meadow area, we were delighted to find ski tracks leading from the highway, through the meadow and toward the forest road. We followed them, enjoying the path made by our fellow skier.
They eventually began following the forest road and, rather than circling the meadow for an hour, we spent a delightful and mile winter afternoon venturing further into the forest than we had gone on bike or with the Durango. We did not quite reach El Camino Real, but we have plans to remedy that on our next visit.
After we had been out approximately 45 minutes, we met our tracker heading back down. We had a brief conversation and shared how much we had enjoyed following his trail. We continued on until we had been out for over an hour, we decided to turn back. As we did so, the sun began to set and a light snow began to fall. It was an absolutely delightful way to end a beautiful winter Saturday afternoon.
Here is a glossary of campground terms, including an explanation of national park camping.