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Campsite Photo Trip - Summer 2012

Dancing With Myself

Greg takes a fall, but keeps his spirits high and powers on to visit more Northern California Campgrounds including Stumpy Meadows, Wench Creek, and Sunset in Eldorado National Forest!

That's what a couple of campers told me it looked like I was doing Monday morning as I tried desperately to keep my balance while exiting the shower house at Ponderosa.

I am always thinking about safety while camping. When I walk the campgrounds I wear a good pair of hiking shoes. On trails a sturdy pair of hiking boots adorn my feet.

I do wear flip-flops around the campsite sometimes and always in the shower. They are only a few years old and still in good condition but the straps have stretched a bit. That probably contributed to what happened next.

I walked away from the shower house on a slightly down-sloping asphalt path. There must have been a bit of sand there because my right foot started to slide. I did the aforementioned dance but my wet foot slid laterally across my wet sandal and over the edge. The net result was my foot twisting in a way that it was not meant to be bent. I went down.

I waved off the other campers who came over to help and walked gingerly back to my campsite. I kept my foot elevated for the rest of the day and slept fine Monday night.

There were some campgrounds I wanted to visit in the Crystal Basin area and since my foot felt about 80% I gave it a go on Tuesday.

From Coloma/Lotus I drove north-east on Marshall road and then east on Wentworth Springs road. First stop was at Stumpy Meadows.

Stumpy_Meadows_Sign Stumpy_Meadows_023

It has 40 campsites and a lake with a boat ramp.


The host told me that it was packed over the long weekend. A 5 mph speed limit makes it very popular for canoeing and kayaking. My foot was down to 70% but I kept going.

15 miles further east brings us to the big lake in the basin called Union Valley. First, a brief aside. I know that they are called reservoirs, not lakes, because they have dams. But I can write lake twice instead of reservoir and still have a letter left over. It also sounds nicer. Plus, let me ask you this. Have you heard of Powell, Mead, or Havasu reservoirs? I thought not. Put the word lake in front and I bet it rings a bell.

The first two campgrounds I stopped at were closed, Yellow Jacket and Wolf Creek.

Yellow_Jacket Wolf_Creek

Normally I would just go around the gate and walk it. I bring a trash bag with me to closed campgrounds in case any left over trash is laying around. I did not do that in this case for two reasons. First, the road that loops around the lake is about a mile or two from the lakeside campgrounds, leading to quite a bit of walking. Secondly, the past hour of driving and using my right foot constantly for the brake and gas pedals has gotten it down to 60%.

I caught a break with the two big campgrounds. The main gates were open. 2 of 3 loops were closed at each one but I was able to park within walking distance to check them out.

Wench_Creek_Sign Wench_Creek_070

Being a pirate born 200 years too late I love the name of this campground. Wench Creek's 100 campsites are located on the north shore of the lake. It's a pretty spot with many of the campsites having water views.

Walking is starting to hurt. I am down to 45% in my right foot.

About four miles away is Sunset campground.

Sunset_Sign Sunset_098

That is site 98, the best there.

This campground is aptly named (unlike Crater Lake which should be called Caldera Lake). A two mile long peninsula juts out from the east side of the lake. Several of it's 131 sites are on or near the tip and campers enjoy marvelous sunsets. There is also a boat ramp nearby and after launching you can tie it up along the shoreline. Bring the water toys because this lake is not speed restricted like Stumpy.

Union_Valley_Boat_Ramp Union_Valley_Lake

Public showers are available at Fashoda, a walk-in tent campground adjacent to it. Go figure.

I almost didn't finish the last 30 campsite photos there. I was limping badly and my right foot was throbbing. Then I thought, WWLaCD. (What Would Lewis and Clark Do). They would gut it out and I did the same. I hobbled back to my car with about 15% left on my right lower paw.

Now comes the easy part I thought. Just a four hour drive through the mountains to the Yosemite area. Boy was I wrong.

Anyone with half a brain would have realized that I needed to take a break and elevate my foot for a while. Since I have a full brain and I'm Canadian to boot I ventured onward. The issue was time.

I left Ponderosa at 9:00am. Started taking photos at Stumpy at 10:00am and finished up Sunset at 2:00pm. I did not want to arrive at my destination in the dark. The first part was easy. Coasted down Ice House road to US 50 and then west to Placerville. The pain started to get serious when I turned left on CA 49 and headed south.

100 miles of twisting roads and my right foot was in agony from using the pedals. Gas Brake Gas Brake. Then I got on the 120 east and the first sign I saw was “curvy roads next 8 miles”. Dante had nothing on this inferno. I had to keep going. I had no where else to go. I finally arrived at Yosemite Lakes with a tear stained face that I was going to claim was simply sweat. The red eyes were from allergies.

I did not want to step out of the car so I honked my horn at the registration booth. I was shown a map where the tent areas were and found a decent campsite. Turning off the ignition I realized that I was not done yet. I still had to set up my tent.

Let me say at this point that a twisted/broken foot should not hurt like this. I have had both previously. I also know many people have experienced much greater pain than I was currently enjoying. But what followed was the most ongoing physical pain I have ever experienced.

I set up my campsite. Pitched my tent so that my feet would be elevated. What would normally take 10-15 minutes took one hour. I just kept walking back and forth and by 7:30pm with the sun already set I was done.

I peeled off my hiking shoes and was surprised to see not much swelling.


I should be a foot model.


Maybe not.

The ankle was a bit puffy but most of the pain was coming from the top of my foot.

I downed a couple of Advil. Never slept.

Dawn arrived without Ginger. I guess that's mixing screen names with real names. I always liked Mary Ann the best. She looked like a camper.

At this point I cannot walk or drive. I'll spend a couple of days here to heal and see what happens.

Regards, Park Ranger


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