Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Step Closer to Roughin' It

I grew up camping. Car camping. Every summer my dad would take a week off work and he, my mom, my two brothers and I would load in to the station wagon and head to the mountains or the ocean. I'm so thankful to my parents for those vacations because as I got older I learned that some people have never been camping. Also, as I got older I tried to make camping as comfortable as possible bringing many conveniences from home . All that has changed since my first bike camping trip, which really helped me learn to not overpack and bring only the necessities, the bare minimum, when camping.

Some people feel that car camping is not camping at all. To them camping means hiking in with a pack on your back and setting up camp where ever you feel like it. No designated camp spot. No fire pit. No porta-potty. No running water. Just the ground below, the sky above, and your essentials.

That type of camping has become more appealing to me over the past few years and for me, this trip that we went on in July was one step closer to that type of camping.

We drove up to Buck's Lake on a Friday after work, stayed in our car at a Pacific Crest Trailhead parking lot, then drove to Silver Lake in the morning and set up camp. Silver Lake does have designated camp spots but they are more remote than your typical campground. There are only 8 camp spots and the majority of them are spaced quite some distance apart. Each spot has a fire pit and a table. There are 'outhouses' but no running water.

After setting up camp, we packed our bags and went for a hike. When we returned we went for a walk around our camp, checking out our surroundings. Everything checked out ok (we saw no signs of any human eating wild animals) so I felt a bit more at ease. I've been living in the city far too long.


Silver Lake on our way to the trail...

The hike....

Climbing, climbing, climbing...nature's stair master.

Level ground. It was SO beautiful. And eerily quiet.

We found a little clearing near the edge of the ridge where we sat and ate lunch. It looked like someone had camped there recently.

Our view during lunch. Breathtaking. The lake in the far background is Silver Lake, where we started.

Heading back. It's all downhill from here...

 The area around our camp...

Camp fun....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Summer memories ~ Rekindled Flame

We always try to go camping at least once during the summer. Some years we go only once, and some years we don't go at all. After taking that first trip this year, our love affair with camping was rekindled. We once again were in love with the crisp mountain fresh air, the clear sky, mountain fauna, wildflowers, fishing, campfires, and relaxing. People that like camping will say that it is relaxing, and I suppose in a way it is. But I actually think I do more while camping than while not. I hike hillsides to fetch wood for the fire, then chop it, and carry it back to camp. I go fishing, cook and clean. I am constantly busy when camping, but it's an enjoyable busy. This year's camping trips motivated Brian to seek out some additional axes to add to our camping gear. And to make us a wood carrier. The first picture is of both of those items. The others are of our second camping trip of the year at Deer Creek.

The drive into the nearest town of Chester, CA takes about 30 minutes. The highway splits the Pacific Crest Trail, something that always catches our attention. We finally stopped, parked, and walked the trail a ways. Up to this point Brian and I had only fantasized about a back packing trip. We'd read stories of people who have hiked part, or all of, the PCT. I'm always so touched by people who have the courage for such a feat. In between the parking lot and the trail was a box of goodies left by a "trail angel". For some reason just seeing what's in the picture below brought tears to my eyes. There is something magical about back packing and trail angels, and apparently a desire to experience this magic myself. This whole experience led to a discussion between Brian and I about planning a back packing trip for our upcoming vacation in September. Even though it wasn't the trip we planned, we did go back packing. I'll share that trip in another post.