There's something about getting away from cell phone service, being under the tallest of tall trees and jumping into cold mountain waters that reinvigorates the soul like nothing else. This weekend, I went with some very good friends to camp in the Tahoe National Forest.
We basically talked about this trip loosely for a couple weeks, but we didn't even book a site until a week before. Our goal was to find some swimming holes and that's about it. We headed north on 5, then over to 80 east and finally up 49. The last time I had been camping in the area was when I backpacked to Island Lake near Grouse Ridge, which is a bit south of where we ended up. This time, we were camping between Downieville and Sierra City, two tiny towns in the mountains. If you ever head up this way, try to get all your supplies in advance. Both towns have stores, but I doubt they are open very late.
Our campsite was rather cozy, but we didn't have any neighbors and basically had our own private bathrooms since there are only 11 sites at Union Flat Campground. We liked the green spiky plants growing around our site and could hear the river rushing by. There are a lot of campgrounds in the area, but we stayed here because it was reservable and we were arriving late.
This swimming hole was at the campsite. Bryan was brave enough to jump right into the river in the morning. The rest of us were leery of the gigantic trees shading the area, so we opted to swim later at a sunnier spot.
We loaded up the van and headed up to find a spot closer to Sierra City that the ranger suggested for us. It was a bit of a downhill, but we scoped out a swimming hole that was just perfect.
As you can see above and below, it was the most perfect and beautiful spot. Not pictured is the waterfall to the left that you can only see when you are in the water. We all jumped off this spot and swam around for the day.
We had the place to ourselves for hours before a couple of nice families showed up. Then we headed back to make the best burgers ever with kale salad and sweet potatoes. Though we may have had some beer and wine this weekend, we kept the food tasty and healthy. If there's one thing I've learned camping this summer, it's to further simplify what you bring and what you cook.
The last day, we head down to South Yuba River. Even at South Yuba River, a place fairly crowded with locals and visitors, you can find spots to yourself like we did here. Just head even a little further up or down river and you're good to go. It's super beautiful and there are natural slides into deep pools. You can see the trees aren't so tall and it's a bit more dry down here. It definitely makes for warmer waters to swim in, but of course, more people.
Take me back already! Every time I head out to the woods, it makes me feel like I shouldn't leave. I get so much clarity. I even brought art supplies with me and didn't use any of them. Just spent time with good people and stared at nature. Ahhh...