great outdoors

A Weekend in Tahoe National Forest

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. 

Endless shades of green in  Tahoe National Forest . 

Endless shades of green in 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. 

Gurdy, being cool in the van.

Gurdy, being cool in the van.

Union Flat Campground, site 2

Union Flat Campground, site 2

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.

North Yuba River

North Yuba River

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. 

Shannon and I watched.

Shannon and I watched.

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.

Good times

Good times

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.

Pre-jump

Pre-jump

Log rides

Log rides

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. 

South Yuba River Bridge

South Yuba River Bridge

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. 

South Yuba River

South Yuba River

South Yuba - check out that slide under the bridge!

South Yuba - check out that slide under the bridge!

The view from our tent. You can imagine all the stars we saw from here.

The view from our tent. You can imagine all the stars we saw from here.

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...

Portola Valley Hike

I'm getting ready to hike the Skyline-to-Sea trail in September. I've been hiking a lot lately midst my busy schedule, which is definitely satisfying the lack of camping I've done this year. This hike was from last week in Portola Valley. I wanted to get into the studio for part of the day so we decided not to venture as far as we usually do.

Imagine if this was your work desk view. Lucky rangers!

Imagine if this was your work desk view. Lucky rangers!

The ranger station was full of great information about the area. 

The ranger station was full of great information about the area. 

Ah, the prices of yesteryear... 

Ah, the prices of yesteryear... 

The  Coyote Ridge Trail , a fairly steep hike and a good workout.  

The Coyote Ridge Trail, a fairly steep hike and a good workout.  

The beautiful view along the ridge. These slightly overcast days are always welcome when hiking uphill. 

The beautiful view along the ridge. These slightly overcast days are always welcome when hiking uphill. 

I was overwhelmed by the yellow green of this drying fern against the layers of blue and green mountains.

I was overwhelmed by the yellow green of this drying fern against the layers of blue and green mountains.

Lightning took down some redwoods in this grove. I can't imagine watching this massive trunk fall.

Lightning took down some redwoods in this grove. I can't imagine watching this massive trunk fall.

You can't possibly come to this area without stopping at  Alice's Restaurant ! A classic biker and classic car meetup spot, Alice's has the best food. Do you like garlic fries? Buffalo burgers? Free range? Grass fed?  All the burgers are named after motorcycles and their dessert selection is something else. Oh yes, the staff? So friendly and fun. I've been coming here for years and it is consistently great.

You can't possibly come to this area without stopping at Alice's Restaurant! A classic biker and classic car meetup spot, Alice's has the best food. Do you like garlic fries? Buffalo burgers? Free range? Grass fed?  All the burgers are named after motorcycles and their dessert selection is something else. Oh yes, the staff? So friendly and fun. I've been coming here for years and it is consistently great.

Blackberry pie and black coffee.  Agent Dale Cooper  would be so proud.  Thank you  Alice's  for satisfying my appetite.

Blackberry pie and black coffee. Agent Dale Cooper would be so proud.  Thank you Alice's for satisfying my appetite.