By: Dwayne Parton

James and Nimbus

I’m not sure where I’m going to stay tonight. The coffee shop is closed and my camping spot permit is up. Should I stay somewhere else? I start looking up information about how to camp for free. I mean really, I’m just parking my truck and sleeping in it. I don’t build fires, and I don’t set up a tent. It might be nice if Bobby didn’t have to be on a leash too. I look and all the dispersed camping is a little further out than I’m really looking for. I give up and resolve to go to back to the campground. I’ll try one of the adjacent one this time.

On my way to the camp ground there is a young man standing on the side of the road with his white dog and pack. He is wearing one of those Asian sun hats and has a huge smile on his face as he sticks out his thumb. I’m just going a few hundred yards down the road so I don’t stop. I take the turn towards the campgrounds. Why am I going to pay for something I can do for free if I just get out of my comfort zone. I stop on the side of the road and pull my phone out to search again. The internet is sparse here so I turn around and head back to the grocery store.

The hitch hiker is still there. His thumb out, and he’s still smiling. I go to the grocery store and search all the sites I can find. I stumble across an article: Free Camping in Colorado.

Free camping is easy to come by if you know where to look.

Ain’t that the truth. I don’t know where to look. I search for 10-15mins and once again resolve; “Tomorrow”. I drive back towards the campground. The hitch hiker must be giving up. I roll my window down and pull over to the median.

“Where you heading?”
“Wah wa-wah wa wah.”
“I don’t know where that is but I’ll take you.” I say not really able to hear him.

I put Bobby in the camper and make room for his pack in the back seat. He jumps in the front with the dog in his lap. His name is James and his dogs name is Nimbus. “I love clouds, and Leadville always has good ones.” He says as he explains his dogs name. I think about my friend who has the same passion for clouds.

“Where we heading?”
“Mount Holy Cross. I’m going to hike another 14er.”
“Do you know how to get there?”
He nods.

I have no idea how far away this is but it’s going to be fun. As we drive we have a great conversation. It’s funny how much you can learn about someone in the car. I mean it’s either sit in awkward silence, or talk. I choose the later. It’s my car, and if they want to ride with me then hopefully that’s acceptable. We talk about this, and he explains that’s part of what he likes about hitching. It’s humbling and you never know who you’ll get or what kind of story they will have.

We turn off on a rutted out gravel road. The trail head is about 8 miles up but there is a campground at the top. Score! I’m going to stay for free tonight. The road winds around the mountain and the view keeps getting better. I’m going to stay here tonight I think as we pass several roadside spots. They call this kind of camping boondocking. I like that. We make it to the trail head at 7:30.


“Do you think I can make it to the top of the notch before sunset?” I ask.

It’s only about 1.5 miles up to the 11k plus notch and sun sets at 8:30. He thinks it’s doable so I get my hiking shoes on and trekking poles. I leave Bobby in the car. He was pooped after disc golf earlier today.

I start the hike. I can definitely feel the elevation but I make it to the top. Beautiful.


I run back down the mountain in the twilight. Get in the truck and drive back down the road. I find a perfect little spot. What a day! I can’t help but feel like this was planned. Following the thread if you will.

When I wake up I see just how beautiful the spot I found in the dark is. I even see a double rainbow!