Fire in the San Juan NF


The San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado will shut down for the first time in its 113-year history.

I closed the Burro Bridge Campground on Monday. So sad. Told the marmot about the fire. Cleaned the toilets. Burro Bridge has no cell phone service, so I thought I should close before I had to flee. On Tuesday all campers in all campgrounds had to be out by noon.

Aside from  closing a campground and packing up  there is the question of employment. Do we hang around and hope the campgrounds re open? Many of the hosts are scattering (“Well, I haven’t been to Kansas lately.” “I have always wanted to see Oregon, so I’ll head up there.”). What will happen if the NF is reopened?  I will be hanging around, hoping that they can get the fire under control (only 15% contained today) and I get to open Burro Bridge again.

So, a last view of my favorite campground…lastView


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Help while Camping

I am more scared of electrical shocks than I thought. When the water flooded there was an inverter hooked up to batteries. Everything was in 3″ of water. Agh! I couldn’t bring myself to step in the water and unhook everything. I asked for help from a camper, who happened to be a master electrician. His name, aside from “My Hero” was Allen. He showed me how I would have gotten shocked (the inverter wires were exposed). Phew. All unhooked, all safe.

marmot in Burro Bridge

The marmot has taken residence under the bathrooms. I see him every afternoon.

tarp while truck campingSetting up the tarp was easier than I remembered. It will provide some wind and rain protection. tarp

The savior in the tarp world has been these grippers. They do not tear, hold on tight, and are easy to reposition. I would provide an Amazon link if I could find what they are called, but no luck.tarpHook

Right now there is no rain in sight. That is scary.

“Nearly 600 firefighters are helping to battle the 4,015-acre wildfire that broke out Friday morning north of Durango. At least 825 homes have been evacuated, and the fire is 10 percent contained.”

This is not far, south east of  Burro Bridge. The San Juan Forest is completely closed to all campfires, welding, and smoking. Serious.

Aside from fire danger, the campground has been tended to assiduously. There have been very few campers, so I have been weed eating and painting old tables. I am tan, healthy and happy wandering around the San Juan National Forest.

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Camp Hosting Difficulties

The water. Oh, the water. The camp is supposed to supply drinking water. Well, someone forgot to drain the lines when the campground was closed last fall.  For 3 days  assorted guys puttered and fussed and said that it was easy.  Still not working. Yesterday the area manager came out to fix it. Wiring bad, faucets rusted shut, and pvc cracked (some in concrete) everywhere. Well, after the third day of fixing, it looked good, so Don said to let the tank fill up. I checked on it before I went to bed. All seemed good. Got up to pee and found that the bathrooms, on the other side of the holding tanks, were inundated with water. The tank room was 4″ deep. I shut off everything. And cleaned bathrooms. That was at 1:30am. I finished by 2:30am as the rain turned to slush. Very chilly at 9,000′.water for campground

I am hoping that it was a faulty float valve in the big tank. Could be a hole up high in that tank. Boss is coming out tomorrow to fix. Fingers crossed.

Just down the way there is an aspenless area, thanks to beavers. The drop off is extreme. How do they do it? I confess to helping. I tugged, shoved and pushed the log over the edge, down to the water. A tiny interference with nature. Couldn’t help myself.

beaver remains

Last week I showed a picture of going to work. Here is a picture of the trip into town. There was a herd of elk there as I slowed down to take a picture. They trotted off before I could get them in the pic.Dolores drive

I think I’ll have a cold beer before I head back to camp. Its a long drive!


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The Best Library

The truck and I were parked in the Juniper Loop of the McPhee Recreation Area the week before the Burro Bridge campground opens. We are having fun, going to the library in Dolores or going to the library in Cortez. Then I take hikes, explore the towns, tamp down impatience, pick up rocks, drink ice cold sodas. IMG_4495This is where I write on the blog, the lovely Dolores River outside of the Dolores library garden. Heavenly coffee at Loop’s Coffee House & Bistro in the morning and a wonderful lunch at the Depot with a chocolate shake that is spoonable.

Town is such a luxury for truck campers. The wind has been so fierce that it is hard to cook. Hard to read. But the restaurants and libraries are used to travelers and turn a blind eye to the hanging out, to the strange requests for meals, and the dirty clothes we all wear.

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Waiting for Camphosting

Drive to Burro Bridge Campground

This is the drive to Burro Bridge. The campground  will be opening on Friday. Thats when I officially start work. However I went up 6 days ago. What a thrill to be alone in such a beautiful place. I have seen many shadow bears (when the wind blows the firs and shadows look like bears), herds of elk, and a very friendly marmot.

The marmot was fat and fuzzy. She came running at me and disappeared into the bowls of the truck. 4 days of horrible squeaking, smelly pee and rustling noises. I couldn’t get her out. Then I thought … what if she is looking for a place to have babies? What if she is looking for a place to die? I decided that death was the answer, so I put the phone down on the floor above where she had hidden, and played hours of “soothing” music. The district manager for the campgrounds showed up and poked around for at least 1/2 hour before he poked her and she left.

The smelly pee was good. It keeps the mice away. Me too, down wind. Not smelly in the truck at night. Thank goodness.

Spent several days getting the firepits cleaned out, the toilets all clean, and the camp sites raked. Still no water, so it will be an interesting time explaining to campers. The water problem has to do with the well pump not working. We will see what happens.

Note that the campground is 32.6 miles away from cell reception, so I will be able to reply to comments once a week or so, when I come into town for laundry!

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