By Michael Harrington

WHERE: Elk Creek Campground Conejos River Drainage July 6-14, 2021

WHEN: July 6 – 14, 2021

WHO: Michael C. Harrington, Larry Payne, and Angus

Looking back, I’d say building the menu meals was the hardest do for the nine days of dry camping with a water spigot within an easy walk. I took 12 one gallon jugs of water that were refilled to our daily needs. Fridge on propane took care of some frozen eats and regular foods needing cold. And plenty of freeze packs along side bags of ice in three coolers holding sides like lettuce and veggies. etc.

We subsisted on prime steaks, chicken breasts, thighs, plump sausages, pastas, salads, wine, beers and full house breakfasts. Juices, coffee, tea, and some hard stuff with numerous snacks for happy hours rounded out the food fare.

Master chef Larry and clean-up man Michael used two stoves outside under a canopy for every meal during our stay on a 10′ long picnic table. Warm enough to eat outside.

Rained on us twice, once a downpour, the other, an overnighter light shower.

The other shower was our solar shower bag in my shower tent=best smelling outside dudes! Luxe!

No fish for the grille! But we did catch a lot of dust. (FREE)

Very limited (yeah) phone service. (FREE)

No low gas prices but we did get our fill of horrible, bumpy, pot-holed washboard roads on every road all the way up almost 12,000 feet. (FREE)

First light sunrises of thick blue haze mixed with low in-camp clouds made for eerie mornings with joe wake-ups. (FREE)

We figured out the lack of speed limit signs. Between the washboards and cattle collecting on the roads, they were the (FREE, unless you hit one!) replacement of steel.


No flies worked to our favor. We saw plenty of different types and sizes of everything that has wings. Sitting on the bank trying to match, well that’s FREE too!

But we did have the mosquito and all their biting kin of biting flies, gnats, no see-ums, doing what they do, putting welts on you. (FREE)

P.S. As usual, no buzzers bit me in the nine days. Most of you know why! Something in my system stymies them. I am not FREE! Yeah! Is it that clear stuff you put a lime into?

We fished sections of the Conejos and a secret creek with Steve & Tracy Craig who arrived a couple days later, fishing their way across the lower part of Colorado to Elk Creek for a couple days. One day, Steve had two on but no land. Me, Larry=0

Small dries on shallow, warm waters had fish inspecting but rejecting, every fly we changed to was nixed. I finally landed a Cutthroat from Big Lake with my favorite, a #26 Blue Dun. Big Lake is a hike-in that is listed as 2 miles in from the trailhead.

Anyone who thinks B L is a two mile hike needs to get the oil checked in their cranial crankcase!

8.2 miles round trip, thanks to Carolyn Schilling whose watch tallied the miles, and Larry’s back agreed, feeling every 8.2 mile step. Kudos to Larry, not giving up in spite of a downer, hairline fracture of the L1 incurred weeks prior to the trip. The day was in the 80’s, barely a breeze, sticky hot, but our well aged bodies did it.

Downer #2 was no fish for Larry in spite of us watching trout jumping all over the lakes surface. Same story for the Schillings who came in for a few days of R&R and fished Big Lake the next day. Carolyn’s Green Drake landed two in five and Lee with PMD’s caught a 0.

Highlights: Pretty scenery on rough 4×4 roads high up. Remote lakes with large trout.

Plenty of fishing the Conejos above Platoro reservoir and below the dam and the town of Platoro.

Our site #29 was to me the best in the campground.

Happy Hours with Steve, Tracy, Carolyn, Lee, Larry. Good talk (FREE)

Found what may be an ancient find in part of a dry creek bed stuck in the bleached rocks. Huge tooth, maybe only half. Happy Hours said; large early bear? Moose? Maybe one big big Indian?

Camp highlight is in the title. Sunny Side Up

I am an early riser, but did sleep in to 5:15. Get up early one sees three doe and their fawns in a casual walkthrough that happened one morning.

No one up, get the almost 100 year old (my grandfathers) Coleman lit, boil the water for two bags, two cups and relish the heavy a.m. quiet. Skeeters still full from someone, still dozing.

Patiently I wait for breakfast. Sun comes up a sick yellow brown?

Mr. Payne gets his HOT tea, lights the grill, goes to work, cooking for two.

Just right bacon, (smell that) hashers, crispy brown char holding the stacks together, salsa ready, juice ready, and the perfectly cooked mountain aired eggs, yolks gooey good, shiny whites soft with a tumble of pepper, salsa with heat.

Coffee’s hot, juice is sweet. Breakfast by Larry, nothing better. We eat!