Friday, October 25, 2013

Table Mountain

Table Mountain The first time we visited this place I didn't think much of it. I didn't give it a fare chance, and we also didn't get to choose a very good campsite the first time around. I thought little of large campgrounds because they usually come with lots of people and lots of noise, two things we try and get away from when we go camping. Table Mountain Table Mountain has 111 sites in total, set up on the top of a sloping ridge that over looks the mojave desert and surrounding San Gabriel mountains. The sloping ridge causes most of the campsites to be spread out quite well (although not all). Some of the loops seem like small campgrounds unto themselves. I've come to appreciate large campgrounds like this one because with their greater number of sites comes a greater chance of getting a sweet spot to set up shop for a bit and enjoy the beauty that surrounds. Table Mountain Table Mountain We are a family of four with small kids and this place was perfect for us. Its hard to get out and explore like we did pre-little-ones but this campground has a lot to offer, and all within walking distance. The campground itself is clean and has a friendly staff who look after the place. Bathrooms are vault toilets, and there are plenty of water spigots, most with 5 gallon bucks to put out your fire (also work great for washing our dirty two year old). There's a really nice amphitheater that has programs for the kids on Saturday nights during the summer, I believe they played a movie the night we were there. There is a trail that loops around the whole campground, and a disc golf corse right next door to the campground. I hiked most of the trail with JW, we saw some great birds and the views over looking the desert below were phenomenal. I highly recommend reserving a spot here. Our second stay here was much more enjoyable because of this. We stayed in site #40 all out on it's own. Only bummer is that it didn't have a lot of shade, but it has a really nice view of the surrounding mountains! Most of the sites on the edge of the campground have great views, sites #54 and #55 looked amazing. Table MountainTable Mountain

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lone Pine Camp ground :: Inyo National Forest - Eastern Sierras

How we have missed the Eastern Sierras for the last two years.  We finally made it back, and to a campground that we have not stayed at before. Lone Pine campground is right above the Alabama Hills at an elevation of 6,000 feet.  The Alabama Hills is one of our favorite spots in the Eastern Sierras, and a must visit if you love high desert Joshua-Tree-like-magic. One of the things I value most in a campground is the view it provides, and Lone Pine Campground has one of the best views I have ever seen.  The campground sits at the foot of Mount Whitney and holds a commanding view of her. Waking up early to see the sun's first rays hit the top of the peaks is a must when staying here. (Thanks for waking us up before the sun rise JW! )

The campground is tucked in a tiny little valley created by a stream that runs through it. It is full of life as the birds and bunnies flock to the cover of the trees and bushes in an otherwise sparse landscape. One of the many reasons I love the Eastern Sierra as apposed to the Western side is the lack of trees (I know this sounds blasphemous just hear me out!). Even at 6,000 feet the trees are few and far between allowing for mind blowing views of the gigantic gray granite that seems to explode out of the high desert beauty of the Owens Valley. 

The campground is well equipped and well taken care of. We visited in the early fall after the peak hiking season for Mount Whitney. We didn't need reservations and less then half the sites were occupied. The sites are small and some are quite close together, but there is decent privacy provided by other sites, I would recommend visiting here in the off season to avoid the crowds.   

Alabama Hills
Whitney at sun rise
Alabama Hills
This boy loves water! 
Alabama Hills
Alabama HillsWhitney Portal

Alabama Hills Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills Alabama Hills Alabama Hills

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

San Simeon State Park :: Central Coast

San Simeon Campground

This trip took the family up to the central coast for a night under the stars at San Simeon State Park. We also visited some good friends in Morro Bay and took a little trip to SLO. Amanda's growing belly (she's pregnant, by the way!) has slowed us down a bit, but she is a super-trooper who still loves adventure.  The night we camped at San Simeon happened to be a "blue moon" night. The moon was huge and bright, and  beautiful. (We also learned that "blue moon" means the occasional appearance of a full moon twice in one month!)

San Simeon State Park consists of two campgrounds about a 5 minute drive from one another. One is "developed" and the other is "primitive"(primitive meaning no flush toilets or showers - in our opinion hot showers are not for camping). We stayed in the primitive campground, Washburn. Washburn has no problem accommodating a 30 foot trailer and is not primitive in our book, but thats just our opinion.
We actually prefer Washburn! Friendly people, great fire wood for cheap, beautiful surroundings.

San Simeon Campground
There are beautiful hiking trails around the campground. 

San Simeon Campground

Central Coast_0012
Poor JW took a good fall and scrapped up his face.

San Simeon Campground

There is so much to do along the Central Coast. Just north of San Simeon is the Hearst Castle. Just south is Cambria, Cayucus, Morro Boy, then San Luis Obispo - all beautiful areas.

Central Coast_0033

Hearst Memorial Beach

Hearst Memorial Beach

Amanda wrote a little bit about the trip here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Buckhorn Campground :: Angeles National Forest

Awhile back we heard that Buckhorn was the most Sierra-like campground in the Angles National Forest and since then we've been itching to go. So when Amanda's cousin asked us to take her and her son camping in the mountains and we thought this was the perfect campground. We've tired to go last year, but between fire closures and renovations (heard it got a pretty nice makeover!) it had been closed for a while.

The week before we camped here we passed through Buckhorn on our way to the Burkhart Trail Head to Cooper Canyon, and it looked like a commendable campground. But spending a little time here made us fall in love.  It really is a magical little piece of the Sierras in the San Gabriel mountains.

The campground is set in a small gently rolling canyon that was created by the stream running through it. There are many different pines, ferns and wild flowers. There are a total of 38 sites and on weekends this place fills up quick. We arrived around 4 o'clock on Friday in June and got the last spot in the whole campground. It was small and on a slop but it did the job quite well. Most camp sites are well separated and a few have a lot of space. There is also a community campfire ring in the middle of the campground, always fun for the large group that can't fit into one campsite.

Hiking and bird watching (we ran into the Pasadena Audubon club bird watching) opportunities abound in the area. The PCT and Cooper Canyon Falls are a short hike away. The stream that runs through the campground is a great place to find small swimming holes and perfect for the little ones to have fun exploring. 

We are grateful to have such a great campground about an hour from our house! 
The small road off Hwy 2 leading to the campground
Our little camp site was set on the side of a slope 
Buckhorn Campground map

There are quite a few large campsites with plenty of room

We spend a lot of time tossing rocks these days

Kim and Blake

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cooper Canyon Trail Camp:: Angles National Forest

Let the adventures in backpacking begin!

Amanda and I took our first backpacking trip together and we. had. a. blast. Our hope is to have the whole family on the trail soon, but for this trip we left JW with grandma, AND we took 7 of our closest friends!

 Cooper Canyon Trail Camp (Angeles National Forest) is about 2.5 miles from Cloud Burst Summit via either a fire road or the Pacific Crest Trail. We made the trip a semi-loop starting at Buckhorn Campground descending the Burkheart trail to the PCT, and following it up to the trail camp, then walked the old fire road up to Cloud Burst Summit. The whole trip was just under 6 miles. It was a great trip for 9 people who don't backpack often. There was hiking to enjoy and lots of time to lounge around camp eating and drinking. I think there was 5 bottles of wine (or bags in our case) a bottle of whiskey, a six pack of beer and a cornucopia of good food between the nine of us. We ate and drank all we brought! It was a good night indeed. We figured since it was just a one-nighter, why NOT.  We may return to this convenient trail camp soon, via another route. There are a few different ways of getting there and some cross-country routes that look like a lot of fun.

Here's to many more backpacking trips ahead! Salud!
(All photos below were shot on the handy dandy iPhone).

backpacking 12 Backpacking 49 Backpacking 48 Backpacking 1 Backpacking 47 Backpacking 3 Backpacking 5 backpacking 7 backpacking 9 backpacking 10 backpacking 11 backpacking 13 backpacking 15 backpacking 16 backpacking 17 backpacking 19 backpacking 20 Backpacking 21 Backpacking 23 Backpacking 24 Backpacking 25 Backpacking 26 Backpacking 27 Backpacking 28 Backpacking 32 Backpacking 33 Backpacking 34 Backpacking 53 Backpacking 35 Backpacking 39 Backpacking 54 Backpacking 40 Backpacking 41 Backpacking 43 Backpacking 44 Backpacking 45 Backpacking 50 Backpacking 51 Backpacking 52 Backpacking 55 Backpacking 46 Any trip up Hwy 2 warrants a visit to the Newcombs Ranch Bar/Restaurant.