Bay Area Weekend Trips, California, Camper Trips

Celebrating 2 years of overlanding in our FWC!

April 2-5, 2021

Our inaugural trip happened two year ago almost to the day, when we headed to the Stanislaus National Forest and then Yosemite, to “try out” our new rig. At that point, it was the Fleet shell with Buddy heater and none of the amenities we have since added (check out the video of our build). A couple days ago, we recreated this trip without even realizing we were doing so.

On Friday, April 2, we headed to Stanislaus National Forest again, although this time, we could not return to our beloved Lumsden Campground (check out one of our first blog posts about this spot) due to closures. After calling the ranger station to figure out what was open this time of year and under COVID restrictions, Mary, told us about Cherry Lake.

As we drove off the 120 onto Forest Road 01N7, we started becoming skeptical of Mary’s advice. We drove past what felt like miles of burned forests and tree carcasses. Then you go around a bend, and all the sudden you are back in lush forest. We both breathed a sigh of relief. Now the adventure was to find a place that Mary called Cherry Burroughs that was nowhere on any map (Gaia or Google or the paper map from the Ranger Station). After about 2 hours of dead ends, road closures, snow too high to clear, and the daylight hour shortening, we settled on a spot by the Lake.

our camping spot near Chery Lake

This was an unofficial campsite, and certainly not one you could stay at during the busy season. It had a fire ring and a flat spot on the parking lot to call home for the night. We were the only ones there after the fishermen ended their day. After dinner, we took a sunset stroll to explore the lake and check out the dam.

Henri exploring the dam

After the walk, we enjoyed a glass of wine next to the campfire. We spent a was a quiet and calm night. The next morning, after making our lattes, we walked across the dam to the other side of the lake. It was a just beautiful, and again, we were all alone. We wished we had brought our water and some snacks so we could hang out longer. But after exploring for about 2 miles and the heat of the day becoming more intense, we decided to return to camp.

Henri with beautiful Cherry Lake behind him

After breakfast and breaking down camp, we set off to once again try to find this Cherry Burroughs. And of course, we found it a mere mile away from where we had been looking, off a forest road we had not ventured down. It was located on the spillway side of the dam and was as beautiful and quiet as ranger Mary had promised. We bookmarked the spot for another time and headed back to the 120.

Chris and Henri relaxing at camp after hours of driving

We had decided the night before that we would camp as close to Yosemite National Park as we could so we could get an early start the next morning. Once again we were presented with road closure after road closure (all with signs of re-opening April 15th, a mere 2 weeks away). Our last hope was Hardin Flat Road, but it seemed that lots of folks had the same grand idea, cause every spot we had scoped out with Gaia, iOverlander, and Google Maps was already occupied. As we were losing hope, we finally located a spot to camp for the night.

It was a flat spot close to the 120, so while we could faintly hear the road, it was private and relatively quiet. We only had one other camper come by and scope out the area before continuing on their way. We enjoyed a campfire that night with the fire ring that was already there.

We got up early the next morning, made some lattes, broke camp, and got excited to enjoy Yosemite once again.

This was our third time visiting Yosemite, and I have to say, it never gets old. The view of Half Down as you come out of the tunnel takes our breath away every time. First things first, when you get into the park is finding a place to park. We lucked out and found a spot exactly where we wanted to be near the Yosemite Falls trailhead. We took Henri for a walk on the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail, enjoyed some sandwiches in the rig, then set off to hike the Yosemite Falls trail, leaving Henri to nap in the rig. The switchbacks of Yosemite Falls trail are no joke, but we guarantee they are worth the views at the top.

view of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

After the hike, it was getting late in the day so we had to head out to find a spot to rest for the night. As we both searched Google Maps and Gaia for a good spot, we stumbled upon a BLM campground called McCabe Flat. It looked small, cramped, and full when we first rolled in, but the trick was to drive to the very end of the campground (about a mile or more in).

McCabe Flat campsite with fire pit/grill and table

We were fortunate to be able to nab the spot at the very end, which provided us with the most distance from other camp sites and proximity to the river, a trailhead, and necessities like a pit toilet and trash.

The trail along the river, with coffees in hand, was a treat the next morning. We went as far as we could before burning up with the morning sun, probably about 1.5 miles, but the trail appeared to continue even further. There were also some pools closer to camp which had tadpoles and red salamenders swimming around. Next time, we will bring our swim suits and enjoy a dip in the pools!

This was the perfect way to celebrate two years with our four wheel camper! It has changed our lives for the better and we look forward to continuing to be momentary locals in more places in the future!

Until next time!

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