The Golden State.
The Golden Beaches.
The Golden Bars you need to pay the State Park camping fees.
Ah yes, good old California.
It has been a busy week. I left the Mammoth Lakes area last Friday and drove 65 miles north and 55 miles west to Pinecrest Lake campground.
This is a large Forest Service campground with almost 200 sites on the shores of Pinecrest Lake. To get there I had to cross the Sonora Pass, which at 9624 feet is the highest pass in California.
The wind was so strong that it blew off my roof rack and bike rack.
OK, that is an old photo, but the pull-out was full of vehicles, so no new pic.
I headed down with clear skies above me.
Pinecrest is a destination campground. There is a nearby resort and marina and everything you need for a great vacation. I nabbed the last lake view campsite, number D35.
Picked up a bag of ice from the store. That rack has come in very handy for fetching supplies in addition to being an excellent sock dryer.
I ate a sandwich and hit the sack in anticipation of walking the campground and the 4 mile hike around the lake on Saturday.
Of course a major storm blew in.. It set rain records in Sacramento and Redding among other Northern California cities.
But I had my trusty umbrella and went exploring. Most of the sites looked like A48.
This is actually the largest site here, almost 1/4 acre, and is one of the first to get booked each year. There are about 10 sites near the lake like number D38.
You get a little less privacy but the lake view is worth it.
I also checked out the resort,
And the general store.
I headed back to my site and eyed my tent and chair.
Wet. So I sat in my car and read until dark.
Most of the other campers had split.
I was not able to do the hike around the lake but through the miracle of time travel I will take you back to 2005 when I last did it.
It was a beautiful, pre-Moisture Man day.
The lake was full and the sun was out.
Even the dogs were enjoying the water.
Yeah. Back to reality.
Sunday morning I packed up to leave. I attempted to wipe the tree droppings off my chuck box only to find they were frozen do it.
It was kinda cold the previous night.
But the sun was shining as I headed 300 miles north to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Highway 49 takes you through many old gold towns like Sonora.
And from that my route took me to this:
I finally arrived.
Again. I was here last year for just 12 hours until we were evacuated because of fire.
No fire this year. I set up camp. Eventually.
My neighbors told me that while I had the rain and thunder and hail at Pinecrest, it had snowed at bit at Lassen on Saturday. I think I would have preferred that.
There is one main road that passes through the park and along it are the four main campgrounds. There is also a hike-in spot and three other primitive back country campgrounds that require you to leave the park, drive to the town of Chester, and enter from the east. A round trip of 80 miles or so from Manzanita Lake where I was staying. RV's and trailers are not allowed and 4-wheel drive is recommended for some of the roads. I decided to stick to the four main campgrounds, which I checked out on Monday.
Manzanita is the big one here, almost 200 sites.
As you can tell from the sign, you can sleep, buy milk, apples, and bread. You can also fill your tank.
There are also showers and laundry.
The lake has a boat ramp but no motors are allowed.
Loops A and C are reserveable and loops B and D are first come first served. Loop D is also tents only. I stayed in D3.
It was a pull through and so was C28, one of my other favorite sites.
Five miles east is Crags campground.
45 sites with only vault toilets. Most look like number 45.
Freshly repaved and quite nice.
Six miles further along the road is Summit Lake.
There are two campgrounds on the lake, North and South, each with almost 50 sites.
North was closed when I was there but it is the one that has flush toilets and is closer to the lake.
Site B4 is one of the best.
The lake is just to the right.
South has vault potties but good sites like number C8.
On the way back to camp I caught a nice view of a snow-dusted Mount Lassen.
Along with evidence of last year's fire.
The previous occupants of my site left a little bit of wood so I made a small fire.
And did some homework.
My plan was to hit the coast just above Eureka but I decided to also head north a bit, to the town of Crescent City near the Oregon border.
So on Tuesday I wound up at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park after a brief 250 mile jaunt.
These northern parks are part of this:
Kind of a joint venture I guess, but instead of the National Park rate of $18 I paid at Lassen, the fee rose to $35.
Anyway, I stayed here for two nights.
Tuesday night it rained but on Wednesday the sun was out while I walked the campground. But rain was still falling on me. The giant redwoods collect the water and seem to take perverse pleasure in dropping bucketful's on your head at random times.
There are 86 sites here, although the numbers go up to 106. Several are alongside the Smith River, like number 53, and have rock walls dating back to the 1930's constructed by the CCC. (Civilian Conservation Corps)
The river is off to the right in that bright area. Sun or something.
On a roll, I drove 10 miles south to Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
There are 145 sites here along with several great hiking trails. About 20 of the sites are short walk-ins like number 6.
Very green. Even the bear boxes fit right in.
The other sites are just as nice. I liked number 63.
This is a very damp part of the country. I feel at home. Rainfall in excess of 150 inches per year is not uncommon. Check out this site marker.
Now that is neat. It would make a great conversation piece in your living room.
On the way back to Jedediah I passed by the beach south of Crescent City.
I stopped by that spot again the next morning.
I stayed in site 29 next to a big tree.
A really big tree.
It did not fall overnight and crush me so I happily headed south.
The early morning offshore breeze on the beach made for a nice misty photo.
My goal was to stay a few nights at MacKerricher State Park almost 200 miles to the south. But there were a few more stops on the way.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has two completely different campgrounds.
First up was Elk Prairie.
There are 76 sites here, the first seven being next to meadow and in the sun, if it is not raining. Like number 1.
The rest are like number 40.
They call it Elk Meadow because it has the largest herd of those antlered animals in the country. A welcome change from all the buffalo. But they did not cooperate, "but" being the keyword here. They would not stop eating. So here is a nice photo of Elk butts.
I was thinking about Elk tacos...
And the male would not stand up, so all you can see is his rack. (I find that funny to write for some reason)
The other campground in the park is Gold Bluffs Beach.
This spot is not for everybody. By that I mean on what you plan to camp in.
No trailers, no vehicles longer than 24 feet or wider than 8. Six miles down a dirt, or in my case, muddy road.
That is one of the nicer spots on the road. Mostly I had two hands on the wheel. Am I trying to discourage you from going there? Yes. Want to know why? Because I loved it and want to keep this campground a secret. OK, you can go, just don't tell anybody about sites like these ones.
Get the picture? There are only 26 campsites here and most were full on a Tuesday afternoon in late September.
I liked green 13.
Flush toilets and showers make it perfect.
So don't tell anybody.
It had been a long day and I still was not done. Next stop, Patrick's Point State Park.
A very popular campground just a few miles north of the town of Trinidad, not the country.
124 sites, some with ocean views, or peeks as the realtors call it, like number 64.
I did more than peek and checked out the view from the point.
It was almost dark when I arrived at MacKerricher. A very long day. But a rewarding one.
On Friday I processed all the campground and blog photos. Probably did not turn on the car engine enough as today, Saturday, when I went to write this blog my battery was dead.
But my neighbors gave me a jumpstart and here it is, in all it's glory.
A very long week. Over 800 miles and five State Park campgrounds, four National Park campgrounds, and one big Forest Service campground.
There were a few mishaps along the way.
And this is all I have to say about that.
Scars are souvenirs you never lose.
Regards, Park Ranger