You know those people who hate not having plans? The ones who can’t deal with not knowing what is going to happen or where they will be sleeping that night? I am not one of those people.
Our initial plans for Labor Day weekend, hatched just a few days before, involved heading in the general direction of Leadville. And then we realized just how bad I-70 traffic was going to be and quickly changed our minds.. We decided to stay far away from I-70 and drive up Highway 285 for a while. We thought maybe we’d camp at Kenosha or Cottonwood Pass. I figured we’d figure it out as we went.
When we got to Kenosha on Saturday morning, everyone in the car was asleep and rain looked imminent so I decided to just keep driving. By the time we arrived at Cottonwood we were in a downpour and the world had turned to mud.
So, again, I just kept driving.
A few hours later we rolled into Crested Butte. It wasn’t really an accident.
Crested Butte is my favorite place in all of Colorado, and that’s saying something because it has some pretty stiff competition. The mountains? The town? The trails ? They’re the best around as far as I’m concerned.. The 4.5 hour drive means that we don’t get out there nearly enough … but it also makes it feel pretty special when we finally do.While the sky was dark and cloudy, the roads in Crested Butte were dry. We tossed aside the idea of finding a hotel for the night (setting up a tent in the rain with a kid and two big dogs? Not fun.) and headed up Kebler Pass in search of a place to camp. We found a nice campsite in the meadows above Lake Irwin, cooked some dinner, started a fire, broke out the whiskey and wine, and hunkered down for the night.
Things stayed blissfully dry until we climbed into our tent to go to sleep. And then the skies opened up.
It rained all night and into the next morning and by the time we rolled out of our sleeping bags, the ground was soaked and muddy. I saw the clouds building again over the mountains and started questioning my plans of riding the 401 trail that day. Maybe tomorrow, I thought.
With no big rides or hikes on the horizon we did the only thing there was to do: we hung out. We made breakfast and drank coffee and read books and watched the kid ride endless laps around the campsite on his Strider. We watched as the weather continuously changed it’s plans (rainy! sunny! rainy! sunny!) and hid in the tent when the sky opened up. I went for a little hike with the dogs (still hobbling around on a broken toe …) but other than that, there was no activity to speak of.
This isn’t how we usually do things but, man, it was nice.
The second evening was more of the same. A campfire under clear skies followed by dumping rain all night long. The five of us stayed warm in our little four-person tent despite the fact that the temperatures had to be hovering near freezing. When the sun came up, we decided to throw in the towel and go grab some breakfast.
We packed up the car, hit up Camp 4 Coffee for bagels and americanos, and hit the road. We mused about how, despite our plans being thwarted by the weather, this was one of the best camping trips ever. The kid had a blast and was a joy to be around all weekend long. The dogs were tired and happy. My husband and I were exhausted but content. Getting to slow down and just chill for a while? It might have been just what this family needed after a long, hectic summer.
Being so close to some of my favorite trails on the planet without getting to set foot on them was a bit of a bummer but I can’t call this weekend anything but a success. Spending time in one of my favorite places with two of my favorite people and the two best dogs that a girl could ask for? It will never be anything less than awesome.
I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend!
If you go:
Kebler Pass begins right on the edge of the town of Crested Butte and has some of the best dispersed camping in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned. There are loads of gorgeous spots up the road from the Lake Irwin campground and even on this busy holiday weekend, plenty were available. We didn’t have our paddleboards with us but when I saw all the people paddling around on Lake Irwin, I sure wished we did! Take lots of firewood with you – the stores in town seem to run out on busy weekends. We’ve learned this the hard way in the past! Crested Butte has some of the best mountain biking in the state – but that’s a topic for another post (one that’s not about doing nothing at all!).