Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eastman Lake

My husband and I headed off to Eastman Lake for an overnight camping trip. There are two campgrounds at Eastman Lake. We stayed in the less popular campground, Wildcat. We were happy that we did not follow the norm of other campers. For we were rewarded with having the entire Wildcat Campground to ourselves! The only sounds were that of the birds chirping.

Eastman Lake is a beautiful lake with a hiking trail that follows the lake.

We hiked the Lakeview trail that starts at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill by the Group Campground.

During our hike, we only saw one kayaker and the patrol boat. There weren't any other hikers on the trail.

The Lakeview Trail is 4.5 miles one-way. We were hoping to hike to the end to see the Raymond Bridge, but a mile from the bridge our path ended into the lake. The route for the trail was underwater.

The tall grasses and the roaring sounds from the feeder creek deterred us from the challenge of connecting to the trail across the newly formed inlet. We could see where others had made the circuit to connect the trail.

Plus, our lack of adventure to make the circuit was also due to the fact that the clouds were starting to look ominous and it was late afternoon.

Across the lake was an area of hillside that had some stone extracted from the hill. We wondered if the stone was used for the dam.

We were blessed with numerous plants still in bloom. The Buckeye trees gave off a wonderful sweet scent.

A couple of times we passed by areas with large boulders. In those areas with the boulders, the temperature along those sections of the trail was much cooler than the other sections of the trail. We wondered if there were some cave entrances by the boulders along those cooler sections of the trail.

After a peaceful night with only the sounds of the owls and light rain, we awoke to the quiet and dry campground. After breakfast, we took the trail from the campground downhill to the Spillway. Again, we were the only folks out hiking.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Inverted Valley

After hiking up the buttes by Black Butte Lake, I started to research on other areas closer to home where ancient volcanoes created interesting and unique geological structures.

Tuolumne Table Mountain between Jamestown and New Melones Lake is an inverted valley miles long. One is able to hike up to the top for spectacular views of New Melones Lake and the Sierras.

Nine million years ago, a volcanic eruption sent lava flowing into a river bed where the lava hardened  as it cooled in the river. Slowly over time, the soft soils surrounding the igneous rock eroded leaving an inverted valley.

While following the trail, my husband and I missed the junction/bend in the trail that heads to the top. Instead, we followed the trail that passes by two caves and ends at this pile of boulders. We did climb up a bit thinking this was part of the trail, but we quickly realized that we had missed the junction.

We did see some climbers and other folks exploring this area. The 4.6 mile trail starts at the end of Shell Road on BLM land. Dogs are allowed on the trail. 

After a wonderful time exploring the Inverted Valley, we headed back to camp at Tuttletown Recreational Area. We were located in site 12 of the Acorn Campground. Most of the campers were situated up the hill, far away from our location. Nobody was at the site next to us; so, we had a quiet evening. 

In the morning while drinking tea and relaxing under the beauty of the oak tree, I listened to the birds. Wild Turkeys, Bobwhites, Quails, and Woodpeckers were busy making their presence to mother nature.

Later in the morning, we explored the trail from the campground down to the lake. From that trail, we followed numerous other trails to create a loop back to the campground. We were very surprised at the wonderful trail system throughout this recreational area that we are looking forward to returning again to explore more of the trails.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


My husband and I decided to head to Lake Berryessa to check on the lake's water level and possibly do some hiking. We had camped here the year before when the lake was very low. So naturally, curiosity got the best of us after all the rain this past winter. The weather forecast for that weekend was cloudy with possible sprinkles.

Luckily for us, the weather did provide a couple of hours of blue sky.

Since we felt lazy, we didn't hike the Smittle Creek trail as we had done on last year's visit to the lake. Instead, we hiked around Spanish Flats campground's section of overgrown old campsites situated across from where we were camped. We hiked up to the water tower and then out to the point.

Then we headed back to our RV. My husband took a nap while I watched the water-skiers in wetsuits enjoy an afternoon on the lake.

It was wonderful to see numerous families out enjoying the campground and trying to fish along the banks of the lake.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Camping Trip 2016

With the kids home for Christmas, we headed back for an overnighter to Black Butte Lake so that the kids could experience the beauty of this region from the top of the butte.

The hike to the butte was well worth the effort. From the top of the butte, we had spectacular views of the Coastal Range and snow covered Mt Shasta in the far distance.

Even though the temperature was cold that day, the top of the butte was much warmer than down by the lake. After our hike back to an almost empty campground, we settled in the RV for the night to stay warm and relax. We ate a tasty meal of ham and bean soup with bacon buns and then played Blokus for hours.

Hopefully this is the start of a new holiday tradition for our family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Buckhorn Campground

We wanted to get away. Someplace that we had never seen that has hiking trails that allow dogs on trails and interesting topography. Since this was a spontaneous trip, we needed to find a campground that would not be busy this time of year--someplace quiet. Black Butte Lake was our answer.

The scenery from the butte that we climbed provided us with not only a spectacular view of the campground and lake, but also wonderful scenes of the mountain ranges to the west and north.

With keen eyes, one was able to spot snow cover Mt. Shasta and Lassen too!

Since we started our hike later in the day than we had planned, we had to leave the trail that meanders the coves and instead hike across the dried up inlets to make it up the butte and back before sunset.

There were many volcanic outcropping of rocks. One had to watch their step since the grasses cover the smaller rocks making the trek up harder, but the hike to the top was well worth the climb. 

The U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers completed the dam in 1963 to protected towns from flooding. The Stony Creek flows from Snow Mountain into the lake.

After taking in the views, we headed back down to explore the campground before the sun went down.

Our dog remembered our route; so, she navigated us back down the butte.

Back at the campground, we reveled in our hike up the butte.

A herd of deer munching on the grasses thought they could hide from us. This group that looks frozen in place gave on the appearance of being plastic statues like the type that can be seen decorating front lawns during the Christmas holiday season.

We had a private area to ourself since the other four campers were at the other end of the campground.

We settled in for our cocktail/appetizer hour with a beautiful view of the lake.

Next morning, we awoke to a very cold morning with what looked like snow clouds. It was such a contrast from the prior day's hike of sunshine and warmth.

Hunters could be heard shooting; hunting is allowed across the lake. Poor doggie, her tail was down, and she wasn't a happy camper due to the sounds of gunshots.

Bundled up, we took a short hike on the trails near our site. Doggie still wasn't happy with the sound of gunshots heard from across the lake.

During our morning stroll through the campground, we discovered the amphitheater. The Scrub Jays were using one of the posts to store their winter stash of acorns-- Eeks trypophobia!

We enjoyed our stay so much that this COE campground is now on our winter list of places to camp.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Perimeter Hike

A beautiful Fall weekend provided my husband and I the opportunity to have a wonderful and strenuous hike at Mt. Madonna. Our hike started by descending the Sprigs Trail, which we were able to pickup close to our campsite. Somewhere close to the Sprig Staging Area we heard the sound of water. A small creek can be seen down below the trail.

After walking under the canopy of Redwoods and Bay Laurel, we headed off on the Merry-Go-Round Trail that presented us with views of surrounding ridges and valleys.

A short hike on Old Mine trail rewarded us with a surprise-- a small lake.

After backtracking to the main trail, we climbed the rest of the way up the hill to where the pens with the white deers are located for a short rest before heading back to camp. At camp we rested, enjoyed appetizer hour, and listened to the sounds of campers enjoying the company of friends and family. 

Next day, we walked around the other two campgrounds that are closed for the winter season. We stopped at a bench to soak in views.

We stopped to read about the Giant Twins, some of the oldest redwoods at the park.

And we noticed numerous banana slugs venturing across the roadways of the empty campgrounds. 

After exploring the closed campgrounds, we returned to our campsite which was quieter since many campers had already packed up and left.