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Campsite Photo Trip - Summer 2012

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Back in California, Greg visits the Pioneer Trail, Yuba Gap, and Colma:

I left Oregon House on Monday and drove about 80 miles south east to Yuba Gap. This is right off Interstate 80, 75 miles east of Sacramento. There were 6 campgrounds I wanted to photograph in this area.

The first two I visited on Tuesday were Whitecloud and Skillman Horse Camp. They are 15 miles north east on CA 20.

White-Cloud-Sign White-Cloud_014

Both of these campgrounds are on the Pioneer Trail, which is extremely popular for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

From the web: "The Pioneer Trail is a twenty-five mile long non-motorized trail that parallels the route of State Highway 20 from the western edge of the Tahoe National Forest to near the center of the Forest. At the eastern terminus the trail links to the Spaulding Lake Trail providing access to the Grouse Lakes Area and a 41-mile non-motorized trail system."

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Skillman also has two group sites.

Next up were two PG&E campgrounds within three miles of Yuba Gap. I went there on Wednesday.

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The lake is very beautiful when it is full. By late August it had been drawn down and the boat ramp was almost high and dry.


The other PG&E campground in the area is called Lodgepole, one of the prettiest campgrounds you will find.

Lodgepole-Sign Lodgepole_020

It is very well kept up and has a delightful stream meandering through the campground. There is also a nice big green meadow to play in.


I spoke with a gal who told me she has been going there for 50 years. I completely understand that.

The last two campgrounds are located about 5 miles east of Yuba Gap right next to Interstate 80. I checked them out on Thursday. You can hear and sometimes see the traffic whizzing by. So why are they so popular you ask? It's the water, baby. An hour and a half's drive east let's you escape the summer heat of Sacramento and swim in the cool clear water of the South Yuba River.

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Several campsites are right on the river and have their own beach area. Numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8 to be precise. The photos below were taken from #5.

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My friend Marilyn is probably drooling while looking at those photos. She loves swimming holes. Honey, you ain't seen nothing yet.

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This place has the best swimming hole I have seen so far. I spoke with the camp host and he said the same thing as the gal from Lodgepole. He knows people who have been coming here for decades. Every regular campsite was reserved for the holiday weekend. Only a couple of walk-ins were available as of Thursday.

Oh, I almost forgot to post the swimming hole photos. Check these out Marilyn.

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Friday I drove 80 miles south to Colma on CA 49. It's 15 miles south of Auburn, a little farther north of Placerville. I didn't much care for the Thousand Trails campground I just left at Yuba Gap which is why there are no photos from there. Their Ponderosa campground is another story. It is situated on the South Fork of the American River which is the most commercially rafter river west of the Rockies.. There is so much to see and do in this area that a weekend would just scratch the service.

Here is some information about the Coloma-Lotus Valley that you might find interesting. It's the birthplace of the California gold rush. On January 24, 1848, James Marshall saw something gleaming in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building for Sacramento land baron John Sutter. That little glitter turned out to be gold and in the next few years over 300,000 people showed up looking to strike it rich. This resulted in California becoming a state two years later in 1850. At least that is what I remember from school.

Back to Ponderosa. Little Joe is complaining to Ben that Hoss is…wait, wrong Ponderosa. I set up my tent next to the river and wound up having two great families camping next to me.

Ponderosa-Campsite Ponderosa-Tents Feet-View

There is a beach a few hundred feet away where I took this photo Saturday morning.


The water level fluctuates. High during the day and varies at night. This is what the beach looked like Saturday afternoon.


Going back to my stay at Yuba Gap, there was two interesting things that happened and that is why I called this post Rocky and Bullwinkle. Old people like me remember the cartoon. Rocky was a squirrel and Bullwinkle a moose. My Rocky was a psycho squirrel that seemed intent on killing me. I came to this realization on Wednesday while walking to the bathroom. I heard a crashing sound in the pine tree above me. An unripe giant green pine cone was falling like a plinko ball through the limbs and heading my way. I ducked and covered. It hit the ground with a big thump two feet away.

I had been hearing these sounds for the past few days, thinking they were some dead tree limbs falling down. Nope, it was psycho Rocky chewing on the stems of these five pound bombs so he and his cohorts could feast on the seeds they contained. I swear I could hear that squirrel laugh every time he sent one my way. This is what I am talking about.


Once it hits the ground the squirrels try to drag it into the bushes.


If they can't they will just eat it where it falls.


Here is one that has started to be nibbled on.


This is what's left when they are done.


They should offer hard hats to people that camp here. A neighbor told me that their friend's sunroof was broken by the cones. I know Rocky had a hand in it.

Bullwinkle was simply the biggest ground squirrel I have ever seen. After a long hard day in the office on Thursday I was relaxing in my chair and reading a book on my Nook. Cracking and eating some unshelled peanuts.

I saw a small dog approaching, at least that is what I thought at first. Nope, it was Bullwinkle. I said hello as he waddled towards me. I am still not sure if it was a bite or a scratch but he did something to the big toe on my right foot and I dropped the peanut I was about to open. He sauntered over to it, picked it up and ate it. Then he glared at me, asking for more.

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No, I did not give him another peanut. With a dirty look and a flick of his tail he left.

Saturday afternoon some kids passed by, one of them holding something.


13 lizards.


I've had beef tacos, chicken tacos and pork tacos. Possibly some dog tacos in Ensenada in the 80's. So what the heck.


Very tasty. Kinda chewy with some crunchy bits. The tails worked great as toothpicks.

My neighbors loved them.


Regards, Park Ranger


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