June 9-10, 2019
Fueled by the excitement of the weekend, we decided to hit the back roads of Plumas National Forest to find our little slice of heaven.
While it took some perseverance (i.e. about 5 hours of driving back country forest roads), the moment we saw it, we knew it was exactly what we were both looking for. It was awe inspiring and breath taking…
But oh the mosquitos! There had been a couple of times we found some nice spots, but the mosquitos! This spot at least had a gentle breeze to keep them partly at bay, but when it died down, they were relentless little vampires! We reluctantly searched for the 40% deet spray at the bottom of our storage bin, and when we did, it was like a magical potion! We could suddenly enjoy the beautiful outdoors. So we set up chairs, grabbed some beer and wine, and enjoyed the majestic views for the evening.
Given that this was our first time dispersed camping in a forest, I was slightly worried about bears. We took some precautions like hanging up our trash from a tree branch 50 ft away from our camper and putting food in the cab of the truck (in an airtight container). Needless to say, we didn’t get the greatest sleep as we woke up at every noise, every shake of the camper when Henri got up to re-position himself. Luckily, we all woke up unharmed (huge sigh of relief), including the trash bag. [But it made us aware that we need to learn more about keeping ourselves safe from bears, and that we probably should invest in a loud horn and maybe some bear spray for future trips.] Alas, we woke up to the warmth of the sun, the birds chirping, and the breeze rustling the tree branches. And also to Henri becoming restless because he had to pee. But there is nothing better in the morning than stepping outside of the camper to breathe in that crisp clean mountain air and feel sun on my face, pure bliss.
After finally getting up, we doused ourselves once again with deet and braved the outdoors to make breakfast. It is a rare occasion when Chris cooks or makes anything edible at home, but when we camp, all the sudden he is Chef Chris. We had delicious whole grain blueberry pancakes and coffee for breakfast while enjoying the spectacular views for the last few minutes.
Then it was time to break camp. I always hate coming back from a trip and having to unpack and put things away, but for some reason breaking camp feels different. Maybe because packing up now means things are ready for the next adventure.
As we drove back, we decided to take the scenic route, Highway 49. And boy was it scenic, every turn proved itself more and more beautiful! Since we were not in a hurry to get home, we had no set plan. And the best thing about that is being able to follow the unmarked roads that make us ponder “where do you think that goes?” or “what do you think is over there?” This is how we stumbled upon this gem of a place, Lower Sardine Lake, at the foot of the ‘Alps of California’ (according to Lonely Planet). We were so taken by its beauty we decided to stop here for lunch and dip our toes in the water. Next time, we will do like the locals and bring our SUPing gear.
Plumas National Forest has many roads and off shoots from those roads you can take to find your perfect spot. Below is where we made camp and we thought it was the best spot (of course) but everyone can find their own little slice of paradise here.
Since it’s dispersed camping there were no fees, but there were also no toilets, running water, or trash disposals; it is strictly pack in pack out. Four wheel drive is highly recommended, if not required. And deet.
On a side note, I find it extremely important when doing any sort of camping to ensure that we are doing our best to care for Mother Earth, so we buy biodegradable products such as soaps, bags, and wipes. We want to ensure we are not poisoning the planet as we enjoy its beauty.