Lindsey and I got home from our camping trip yesterday around 1:45pm. We had a really nice trip, but it didn't start out so well.
Tuesday, Lindsey and I left town about 1pm. We were headed up Hwy80 without any real idea of exactly where we were going to camp. We were just gonna look around and find a good campground. I mean, there's literally hundreds of them. As we were nearing Auburn, I told Lindsey that I felt anxious about something. Suddenly I remembered what it was. I forgot my sleeping pad. I've slept on the ground while camping before, and I'm NOT gonna do it again, so.... just outside Newcastle we turn around and head back to Citrus Heights to get my pad. Then back on up Hwy80. It was about 2pm when we finally passed Auburn. We pulled off Hwy80 and checked out a few campsites up around Yuba Gap and Donner. None of them were what we were looking for. We took Hwy89 north a bit out of Truckee, and stopped at Prosser reservoir to see what those camps looked like. They looked like crap. The lake was low, the shore and campgrounds were all dusty, low on shade, and hot.
Now, it was starting to get late, about 5:30pm, and although I wasn't really worried about finding a campground, we were getting tired of looking. So Lindsey says, what about that nice little camp by the creek, up by Markleeville? Well, we were on Hwy89, north of Hwy80, and Markleeville is on Hwy89, all the way south of Hwy88. But I figured, what the heck, we can make it. So we trundle of south on Hwy89 through Truckee, north shore Lake Tahoe, all the way around the west shore, down through South Lake Tahoe, to Meyers on Hwy50, and down Hwy89 further south to the junction with Hwy88 in Hope Valley. Omigosh, what a long drive! We stopped at several state parks along the way to see if there was any camping available, but most of them were full, and those that had spaces said you could only camp ONE night without reservations. What kind of hinky system is that?? Argh!
Long about 8pm we pulled into the most perfect camp site on Markleeville Creek. We wound up literally 10 feet from a little set of gurgling rapids. What a great, soothing sound that is. Anyway, we were able to set up camp just as night fell. We had dinner, sat around a fire for a bit, and crashed to sleep.
Each campsite had a large, bear-proof locker for all your food and anything that might be attractive to a bear. Lindsey and I were careful to keep out camp clean, and all our food put away. On Thursday, the guy in campsite #1, at the far end of the creek, came over to our site, and said, I don't want to alarm you guys, but there's a bear in my campsite. Oh, crap, I thought. I've been camping in the Sierra's for over 30 years, since I was a kid camping with my dad, and I'd never seen a bear in the wild. The bear looked like a juvenile, probably not more than a year or so old. I'd estimate his weight at about 150 pounds. Mind you, he wasn't a cub, but he wasn't a big ol' grizzly either. He was just a little brown bear, but dang! He was a bear! I think I was more freaked out than Lindsey was, by far. The bear spent about 20 minutes trying to get into the bear locker at the guy's site, then finally gave up and started wandering toward my campsite. I was starting to get a little worried, but I remembered the instructions posted at the camp entrance about what to do if you encounter a bear. So, I put my arms up and kinda yelled, and my neighbor had a little whistle he blew, and we both walked toward the bear a little bit. He was about 15 yards away when he finally stopped and just looked at us. The bear seemed to be thinking, naw, it's not worth it, and he turned around and slowly walked back the way he came. He crossed the creek, and wandered up the hill into the forest, and disappeared. Made the trip for me, and lemme tell you, that camp was spic-n-span clean when I went to bed that night. Didn't want NO bears looking around at anything in my camp.
All in all, Lindsey and I had a wonderful time. I've started teaching her to drive my car. There's a little-used airport just north of Markleeville that has a wide parking area. I drove her up there, and let her drive around a bit. After she figured out how to get the car going (my car has a standard transmission) and how to steer some, I let her drive down the road toward the Indian Creek campground. She did really well. I think she'll be a good driver.
We drove around a bit, went to the little town of Genoa in Nevada, had lunch at the Alpine Hotel in Markleeville. I walked in the creek aways while Lindsey spent lots of time reading. It was a really nice get away, and I'm glad to say, Lindsey and I get along very well. I'm glad to be home though. Showers are sorely missed after a few days. Trust me.