First, I have to confess that it wasn’t really camping – friends lent us their little (no plumbing, no water) cabin on the Cache la Poudre river. The cabin, along with four others, is on National Forest Service land in the Roosevelt National Forest.
As we drove west on Highway 14, we were amazed at the number of tubers, kayakers and rafters clogging the river. Once we got up to where our friends’ cabin is, traffic (both on the river and on the road) was much lighter. The cabin is just across the river from the highway, in fairly dense pine forest, with steep mountains looming behind it. It was built in 1918 as a one-room cabin originally used by hunters. Since then, a front room and two tiny bedrooms have been built on. The original room is now a kitchen of sorts, with a propane stove and a sink where you can run your water from your 5 gallon jug into a pickle bucket that you later have to empty into the pit toilet.
Behind the cabin are the outhouse, the trees for hanging your hammock, and the fire ring. Elizabeth has already totally covered the wheelchair accessible outhouse situation (with pictures!); this outhouse is not.
The first day we pretended we were on vacation and did nothing except sleep, read and eat. The second day we got a little more adventurous and decided to find some wheelchair accessible trails. We stopped in at the National Forest Service Visitor Center at Arrowhead Lodge, where Tom was enthusiastic about Finding Things Out and also gave us tea. The NFS map of Roosevelt National Forest had a tantalizing hint of some wheelchair accessibility publication, but Tom called headquarters and learned that if such a thing had ever existed, it no longer did. He promised to investigate more, and we promised to check back later.
Then we drove on to the Moose Visitor Center near Gould. This Visitor Center is for the Colorado State Park named State Forest (got that?), and Christy was also enthusiastic about the wheelchair hiking project – first thing she said was “What kind of tires do you have?” and came around from behind her counter to check out my rig. She suggested the Gould Loop Trail, a 6.5 mile loop beginning right behind the Visitor Center and going to Ranger Lakes. We did about two miles – the trail was hardpacked dirt with occasional gravel. It was broad and flat and shady – a very nice little hike. The larger casters on the wheelchair floated over the surface irregularities nicely, but the lack of camber made cross slopes somewhat more challenging. I also found I needed full gloves, as mdmhvonpa pointed out. The knobby tires are so wide, it’s not practical to try and grip the handrim alone.
We used to go to a restaurant in Gould (the only restaurant in Gould) called the Howling Coyote, but it’s closed. The Drifters’ Cookhouse, which replaced it, was closed that day as well, so we drove on to Walden, where Christy recommended the River Rock Cafe, where her daughter works. It was quite nice, better than I expected. The associated hotel, Antler’s Inn, has 14 rooms that are completely inaccessible due to the lack of an elevator. With a population of less than a thousand, Walden is the biggest town for miles around, and the Jackson County seat.
We stopped at Arrowhead Lodge on the way back and got recommendations for Bellaire Lake and Dowdy Lake. More to come in the next entry.