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.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Retreat

The Sierra Mountains was where we headed for two days of relaxing, exploring, and hiking-- a true retreat. Our campsite was again Black Oak since we wanted to hike around Crabtree.

There is a fire road from the campground with an outcropping of rocks that over look Beardsley Lake that we explored. This is such a beautiful place! I'll be dreaming all winter long of picnic lunches here while patiently waiting for our return trip in spring.

We were also surprised at the view of the canyon from this point.

Back at camp we rested while I planned for the next day's longer hike at a higher altitude.

Somewhere out there is the rock outcropping that we had hiked to earlier.

After a peaceful night's sleep and yummy breakfast, we headed to Crabtree Trail head to hike to Camp Lake and Bear Lake. The hike started with a climb up the ridge where we then followed the marker in the direction of Camp Lake.

Before descending the trail to Camp Lake, we were rewarded with views of the granite range of the Sierra.

We strolled passed huge granite formations as we made our way to Camp Lake.

We found Camp Lake to be a resting spot for backpackers that had ventured further into the Emigrant Wilderness than what we were planning for the day.

Since we found a couple of large groups of backpackers resting on some rocks near the lake, we quickly continued on to Bear Lake. Along the way we passed by more huge boulders, but this pairing was the most interesting we encountered.

The mile hike from Camp Lake up to Bear Lake went quickly. We were rewarded with a lake almost all to ourselves. This lake was gorgeous! We soaked our feet in the ice cold water and took a snack break. It was so relaxing and peaceful. We only saw three backpackers on the opposite side of the lake. 

While hiking from Crabtree trailhead to Camp Lake, we encountered numerous groups of backpackers. Our return trip was totally different.  We only met one man carrying a 70 pound pack.  Yes, he was loaded down. He told us his goal was 70 miles in two weeks. 

Just before coming back to the parking lot near the trailhead, we crossed over this sturdy bridge. At this time of year the bridge looks a bit excessive for the quiet stream below. I'm sure in spring that stream roars with abundant amount of water making it difficult to cross. 

After our 7.5 mile hike, we returned to a nearly empty campground. 

The next day, the campground closed for the season. We said our goodbyes for the season and headed home to eagerly await our return to this lovely place in spring.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Clark Fork Campground and the Attack of the Bees

Resting in the hammock, I listened to the sounds of nature in this pretty campground located in the Stanislaus NF off of highway 108.  The meat-eating bees were buzzing and flying into the trap of sardine water that my daughter had made earlier that day. We couldn't tell if a bee kept going into the bottle because of the smell of sardines or trying to rescue their fellow bee.

The campground was mostly empty since school had started, which is a week earlier than last year. So the third week of August, which would normally be a busy time for families in the past to camp, was very quiet. Only one family with very young kids were at the opposite end of the campground. Otherwise, the other few campers were elderly folks. Out of 88 sites there were only about 15 occupied.

Our site was nestled in a group of shrubs, nice and private.

The campground is surrounded by rocky peaks, but from our campsite the view was of the pines.

Some of the surrounding peaks are on the edge of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. On the first day, we hiked the Arnot Creek trail, which is located at the end of a dirt road just a short distance from the entrance to the campground. We hiked from our campsite to the junction of Arnot Creek and Woods Gulch and back, round trip was about 7 miles at an elevation of 6,350 feet.

Our second day hike was to the beautiful Sword Lake in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. After the long drive to the parking area near the entrance to the trail, we made the steep climb up the trail for a wonderful view of the Stanislaus NF. Sadly, a hive of bees had taken a liking to this area of rocks. I got stung in the knee while admiring the view.

From this point, it was almost all down hill to the lake. We crossed a meadow along the ridge and then did a series of switchbacks down the mountain. Along the way, we were rewarded with spectacular views towards Spicer Reservoir. 

There were miles of granite and pine to be seen.

The hike from County Line to Sword Lake is 2 miles, at least that is what the National Forrest Service states, but it felt like a good 3- 3.5 mile hike to the lake. Once we got to the lake, we were rewarded with wonderful views of the Dardanelles. 

The water was so inviting that we took a quick dip to cool and refresh our sweaty bodies. 

Before heading back, we took a photo of us and the Dardanelles behind us. We didn't want to leave this beautiful place, but we knew we had the long and slow climb back up the mountain to the car. As we headed out, a group of backpackers were coming in to camp for the night at the lake. I prefer the comforts of the RV. 

So, off we trudged along the trail passing many different flowers in bloom, like the Indian Paint Brush, and taking in the wonderful views of the Dardanelles.

Mother nature provided a lesson on different ways tree branches form along the trunks of the pine trees- -way cool!

I needed numerous rest stops while climbing back up the mountain. One can't complain of the scenery along the way. 

A shady rest stop was badly needed before walking past the rock pile of nasty bees. So, I rested well before making the last quick dash up the hill past the pile of rocks. From there, it was the short and steep descent back to the car.

Back at camp, more of the meat-eating bees had committed suicide. We were amazed at how many had ventured into the trap.  

After a peaceful night of rest, we took one last hike around the campground (mid-morning) looking at all the sites and commenting on which ones would be nice for future stays.

Of course Meeks gave us that look of do we have to go home so soon. I'm sure that she wanted to be back at the lake. 

Yes, we will return again to this lovely lake and to explore this region more.