|Kayakers along the River|
Hecla Junction, north of Salida, CO, is one of 6 campgrounds offered in the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area. All of the campgrounds, in the 150-mile stretch of recreation area, border the River. Hecla Junction is a popular take out point for kayakers and rafters that enter the river further north. However, later in the day as the watersports subside for the day, the Arkansas turns into a tranquil fishing site. In the AHRA, everything you need must be brought in and carried out. While most
public parks offer at least occasional water faucets and dumpsters for trash,
due to the size of the Recreation Area and expense of the providing the
services, they are not available. What
you do find is dramatic scenery, hiking, fishing and the aforementioned
whitewater activities. The rapids on
the river ranges from a difficulty level of Class 3-5 in the spring to a
friendlier Class 1-3 later in summer.
Numerous companies offer guided rafting and kayak drop off and pickup
services in the surrounding area.
|Alan fly fishing for trout|
|Joshua Been painting along the Arkansas River|
We focused on fishing and hiking but Alan also found this a perfect area to pull out his watercolors and do some plein air painting. A trail running along the river south of the park provides not only a relatively level walking experience, but also easy access to the river for trout fishing. Our first morning on the trail we found Joshua Been, a Salida artist, completing a commissioned plein air oil painting of the Arkansas. Josh filled us in briefly on the town of Salida, which we had past through the previous day. Unable to find parking for our rig due to an art festival, we had missed experiencing the town.
Backtracking for a day, we found that Salida calls itself “the biggest little art town
in Colorado.” The
art district, which is located in the center of town, offers a variety of
talented artist. There are 19 artist
owned galleries in the district. Visiting
Joshua’s gallery, Virtuosity, we met up with him again and were able to see the
completed and framed piece he had been working on earlier in the day. Check out his website at http://www.joshuabeen.com/ to see some of his work. Lunch at the popular
Poughboy, Farm to Table Restaurant and Store provided us with a healthy lunch
and farm fresh, organic veggies to stock up our kitchen. For bikers, the town offers family-friendly
and more challenging mountain biking options.
|Josh's sidekick, Sierra|
|At Twin Lakes|
White Star campground at Twin Lakes is part of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest about 20 miles south of Leadville and our next camp. Miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and trout fishing are available. These glacially formed lakes are linked by a narrow channel reflecting the nearby mountain range, and are just incredibly beautiful.
From here we headed up to Leadville, despite its name, the town originated as a gold and then silver mining town. We happened to come into the area as the town was preparing for the Leadville 100-mile "Race Across the Sky" Trail Run, this bike event draws hundreds of bikers and thousands of spectators. We lucked into a camping spot within a wilderness refuge at Lake Turquoise, in spite of the races. Opting for a bit of mountain biking around the lake, we found that mountain
biking at 10,000 feet is a bit more
challenging than the Sunday morning workout we do when we’re back home at sea level. The 12-mile trail/road trip provides a
fabulous view of the lake and surrounding mountains. We managed to finish about 1 mile before
huffing and puffing and turning back.
|Alan along the Lake Turquoise trail|
Delaying our start due to the 30-degree morning temperature, once it warmed up
a bit we headed out. Brown, rainbow,
mackinaw and cutthroat trout make their home in Lake Turquoise, so we climbed
into our kayaks and headed out into the lake to try our luck. Four hours later we returned to shore; I
lucked into one rainbow, so now I’m up on Alan 3 to 0.
|Taking a break along Lk. Turquoise|
Now we’re headed up to Frisco. Friends, Rich and Gloria, had recommended a downhill bike ride from Vail Pass to Frisco, now that’s our kind of trip!
|Rocky Mountain view along our drive|
|Twin Lakes from the trail|
|Twin Lakes trail|
|Heading into Leadville|
|At Twin Lake|
|At Twin Lake|
|At Twin Lake|