"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Lava, Lakes & Cannibalism - Final Days in the Camper

Old Station, CA
Cave NF Campground  

Before we end our Lassen Volcanic National Park stay, we wanted to also re-visit the Subway Cave.  It is right across the street from the Cave National Forest Campground.
This is a lava tube that is about 1/3 mile long.  It is totally black inside so bring a headlamp and/or a flashlight.  The floor is jagged so wear good shoes.  You can stand up the entire time.  No dogs allowed inside.  It's also a chilly 46 degrees so you may want a light jacket.  It opens after the snow melts around sometime in April and closes usually in October and is also free to visit.

There are interpretive signs inside the cave as well as outside.
You can see the jagged floor here.  When the hot lava drained out of the hardened shell, a froth was left behind on the floor.  The jagged stones imbedded in the froth are a form of pumice.  They call this portion of the tube Stubtoe Hall.

On the ceiling you can see the sparkles.  I thought it reminded me of a tortoise shell.
There were interesting small tubes on the ground too.

It's a short walk but very interesting.  How many people can say they walked through a lava tube?

This is where a lava bubble formed.
Heading back out and you can see where another small tunnel branched out.

At one point on the way back to the trail you are walking above the lava tube.
Interesting blooms on this plant.

We tried to visit Burney Falls State Park next but it was packed!  No where even close to park outside and hike in.  We've also been here before so that's ok but with the heavy rainfall the falls have been spectacular.
Off we go towards Susanville.  The drive on Hwy 44 is beautiful with open meadows, forests and ranches.  Again, with all the extra snowmelt and rain, the shallow lakes/ponds that are usually dried up by August still had plenty of water.

We did pop into a small campground called Goumaz National Forest Campground.  It was a few miles down a nicely maintained dirt road which dropped down to the Susan River.  Maybe 8 sites.  Very quiet and private in the forest along the river.  While there was a Verizon signal along the drive in, once we dropped down that disappeared.  Boosting didn't help either.  We would've stayed here instead of at the fairgrounds in Susanville if Verizon worked.  We will come back though.
The river is lovely and I fished it a bit.  Had one small one chase my lure but that was it.  Worms would probably be better in this small stream.
The plan was to spend a couple days in Susanville to ride the Bizz Johnson Trail on our bikes.  The trail winds about 25 miles from Susanville to west to Mason Station along the old Fernley and Lassen branch of the Southern Pacific.  The route follows the river and passes over it 12 times on bridges, trestles and two tunnels.  You can make a reservation with the local bus service for a couple of bucks and they'll take you and your bikes and drop you off at one of the few trailhead points.  Our RV friends, Lee and Trace of Camper Chronicles, work camped at the trail and enjoyed their time there.  This link takes you to their site when they took the bike ride.  There is a video at the end where Lee got some great drone footage. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get our bikes before we left so we'll have to come back by another time!

Lake Almanor,
Almanor NF Campground
We continued our loop down from Hwy 44, to A21 to 36.  What beautiful scenery along the rivers that these small state routes follow. 
Site #20.  $9 with Sr. Pass. No utilities but there are bathrooms and garbage dumpsters.  The sites are very roomy and ours was quite private too.  Most of the sites here are under heavy tree coverage making our solar challenging.

This is a HUGE lake and usually very windy because of how it's situated and the large open surface.  During our stay the winds were pretty calm at this portion of the lake.  Bummer for us as we didn't have our kayak with us so no fun on the water either.
There is a nice bike trail that runs out of the campground too.  The same fire made it down to here and burned quite a bit of the area.  The campgrounds are still removing burned trees. We spent some time walking on the trail and we'd like to come back here with our bikes and kayak next time.  This campground doesn't have too many big RV sites though.
Thought of our RV friend, Dino, when I passed by this sign on the trail.

We had a great stay for a few days then it was back on the road heading south on 89.  We stopped in Quincy, an adorable little town that needs more time spent at, to grab some pizza.
If you're in California, you've got to try Round Table pizza!  What's that mess you see?
Steve went to pour some red pepper flakes on his slice and got a surprise!  Someone did not screw the lid on and he got quite the helping!
Driving along this long winding valley were many huge cattle ranches and barns.

It was sad driving through the tiny town of Greenwood as it was almost entirely wiped out by the same fire that tore through Lassen Volcanic NP.  We bought some groceries and propane there and listened to the scary stories of some of the nice locals.

Truckee, CA
Prosser NF Campground
This is a small campground right on Prosser Lake. There are two campgrounds.  Lakeside is right on the water as you might guess, while we stayed at what they call Prosser Family Campground.  You can see the lake from some sites but you'd need to drive down to it.  $10 with the Sr. Pass, #8.  You could fit some larger rigs in here.  I'd like to come back with the trailer.  Again, no utilities but scattered water spigots, vault toilets and garbage bins.  As we've been finding, the water service has been hit or miss at some of the National Forest campgrounds.  The water was off here too.  
We loved this site with a view of the lake below.

We were surprised that fires were allowed at almost everywhere we camped.  Usually there is a Fire Ban that goes into effect sometime in June. No bans this year with all that rain/snow.  Another couple of days just chilling and we head to one more overnighter on our way back to Placerville.  First though we pulled over at a nice picnic are/pull out that I found by accident as Steve had some work to do.
I'm sure most of you have heard of the Donner Party?  Well most of us that have think of the huge Visitor Center/Memorial at the Donner Lake State Park.  What I found so interesting is that this is the exact area that the last survivors camped and the infamous cannibalism is said to have happened.  They have a nice picnic area and a short interpretive trail.  You almost don't notice it is here.

A little set of wings on the back of a pine tree I just happened to see.  It must mean something special to whomever put it here.
There is a nice boardwalk that goes through the marshy area.

This tree is said to be where the final 6 covered wagons made a tent with the fabric from the wagons during a fierce early snowstorm.  They had hoped to come west to find a better life but found misery and death instead.  There is a plaque here on a rock.

Very few lived through that winter.

Can you imagine eating boiled hides and crushed bone broth?

Such a sad place.  So beautiful in the summer.  I wouldn't want to be stranded here in winter though!
Field of Dreams.  Make a wish!
As kids, we studied this event and have visited here on field trips.  I can't believe I didn't know of this spot though.  Really cool to visit here.

Emigrant Gap
Snowflower Resort
A quick overnighter.  
We had a strange party crasher!  We were eating lunch in the camper when we heard this loud sound and though a pine limb had fallen off and hit the screen door.  It was a squirrel!  He was just a foot away from me and ran up and down the screen.  I guess he wanted some lunch too.  It was so funny!

Almost home as we pass over the American River.  We leave behind the nice mountain 70s for the hot 90/100s.  There were many people kayaking and paddle boarding on the river.
What a great 2 1/2 months we've had getting to know our camper.  Time to take it off though and store it in my Mom's side yard.  It just fit between the sheds.

Coloma, CA
Ponderosa Resort
Back to our Go-To where we have spent much of the past 2 1/2 years helping out my parents.  We were fortunate to store our 5th wheel here while we were out with the camper.  At $60 a month it's also a steal!  Behind locked gates on guarded private property.
The river level has come down quite a bit but the damage to most of the campground remains.  There are still only 20 sites open out of 150.  It might not be rebuilt next year either.
The American River.

And the take-away of the camper versus our 40' fifth wheel:

Easier to pull, park, set up and tear down.
We can get into very remote places.
Better gas mileage.
SO much easier to wash!

Taking it on/off the truck (this should get better with practice)
Smaller tanks means more water conservation.
Making the bed!

Surprisingly it is very roomy and there is plenty of storage inside.  We use the backseat of the truck to carry our BBQ, Firepit and chairs.  Our tandem kayak is too big for the camper so we will get 2 smaller ones and mount a small basket on the bumper for them.  We still need to install rooftop solar and update the interior a bit.  It'll be perfect for our Alaska Adventure. 

 We've had so much fun with it so far that we may just keep it afterwards!