Tuesday, July 12
Ohaver Lake beyond the aspens
Ohaver Lake Campground sleeps as Bridget leads me outside for her early morning potty run.
She finds a hidden place in the tall grass in order to take care of her business discreetly.
It’s odd to me that people choose to sit around in the dark and then sleep through the best part of the next day. I hate missing the morning light!
Before we leave Ohaver Lake, here are a few more photos taken the previous afternoon.
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The trip down from Ohaver Lake is much easier than the trip up.
No crashing dishes and no flying fruit! I’m grateful that we don’t meet a vehicle on any of the switchbacks.
Returning to Route 17, the crew and I continue northward.
The road curves in a gentle descent to the town of Poncha Springs. We make a righthand turn at the light and Route 50 takes us a few miles east to Salida.
Oh, there’s a Wal-Mart here . . . .
As we approach Salida a strange feeling comes over me.
I’m not sure what to make of it. Something important or significant or special is going to happen at this location . . . .
The Perfect Tow Vehicle follows Route 50 through town to the Forest Service facility on the east side.
We pull up to the auto-pay dump station. (No, this isn’t why I had that feeling described above!)
Using my credit card, I pay $10 which unlocks the station. Dumping is accomplished without incident. Always thankful for that!
A young woman inside the Forest Service building hands me a map of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.
She points out the areas along the river that are state or private land and the areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management or the National Forest Service.
From there we travel a short distance further east on Route 50.
A digital sign over the road announces a fire area ahead. “Limited Visibility — Do Not Stop on the Road.” Later I learn about the Hayden Creek wildfire from a fellow camper evacuated from his home.
A collection of tents, RVs, porta-potties, fire trucks and other vehicles fill a field on our left. A sign indicates this is the Fire Command Center.
Boy, must be a big fire . . . .
After passing an RV park the sign I’m looking for appears — Salida East Recreation Area!
Salida East is a free, dispersed camping area on the Arkansas River. It’s a place roughened over time, meaning people park their campers wherever in a field of tan grass criss-crossed with rock-studded dirt roads, and heavy use is obvious. A few campsites are defined by a picnic table and fire ring/grill.
I stop at the entrance and read this sign.
All the good spots along the river are taken.
I expected as much in a free campground at the edge of a popular town and along a river.
The PTV positions the Best Little Trailer in a site in full sun and in no way attractive. Even the small juniper looks forlorn. I don’t take any photos, unhitch, or set up a full camp in hopes of someone leaving soon.
A man in an official-looking white truck drives through the campground posting signs.
A few hours later a man in one of the riverside sites puts bikes on the rack of his toad vehicle.
“Come on, crew!”
Quickly I put Bridget in her black suit and attach the end of Reggie’s tether to it. Grabbing the center of the tether, I urge Bridget and Reggie to hurry with me down the slope.
“Are you leaving today?” I ask, breathless.
“Yes, we are. In about five minutes.”
We dash up the slope and in record time I prepare to move camp. When the young family pulls their Class C out of the pull-through, riverside site, the PTV and BLT move right in behind them!
“We got it!”
Some camps are noted for their beauty, others more for their convenience. I have stuff to do in town and this camp is very handy!
The Arkansas River moves rapidly below our campsite . . . .
Rather than twist an ankle or fall going down the steep bank at our site, each morning and late afternoon I walk Bridget and Reggie to the end of the camping area where we can easily access the river.
This is where people put in their rafts and kayaks and one of the few places in the campground that has a shallow, calm pool ideal for wading.
More to come about our stay at Salida East . . . .
I talk with a man evacuated from his home in the area of the Hayden Creek Fire and Bridget and Reggie make friends with a pooch named Nemo!
“Ooh, that cold water is going to feel so good!”
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The Best Little Trailer at Salida East dispersed camping area