Friday, October 21, 2016

Jackson Lake

The local news was informing me that our upcoming weather forecast was to be unseasonably hot, so on our days off we decided to cool off with some mountain camping. I believe we have done a pretty good job of visiting all the nearby campgrounds so this trip it was time to go to higher elevations. Angeles Crest Highway is 66 miles long and passes through the San Gabriel Mountains. The highest point reaches over 7,900 feet at the Dawson Saddle making this road one of the highest in Southern California.

This also marks a new altitude record for our beloved air-cooled 81 Westy. Although the climb is steep, it's not too steep and we were able to make it in 3rd gear for most of the trip averaging 35-40mph. With the hot temperatures of the valley behind us, we arrived at Lake Campground which was located right beside Jackson Lake.
After setting up camp we explored some of the many hiking trails close by.
Followed by some play time in the campground (which we had all to ourselves)

Of course one of the main reasons we chose this campground was to enjoy the lake. Jackson Lake was formed by earthquake movements along the San Andreas Fault that cut a jagged path through the area. Mostly fed by snow runoff from the mountains, it was once a source of summer fun with swimming, boating, and fishing. Today it is still a hub for scenic campgrounds and picnic areas but with the California drought, the lake is now a much smaller example of it's former self. I found some old photos of the lake in all it's glory which is another sad example of the drought California has suffered for so many years.
Here is a shot from the 1960's with Table Mountain in the background.
And our shot with Table Mountain in the background.
Another vintage picture showing how abundant the water once was.
A similar perspective today.
Although sad, it didn't stop us from appreciating what water there was left to enjoy.

The night was chilly but we were nice and warm in the camper.
In the morning we packed everything up and headed back home while enjoying even more stunning views including a scenic drive through Wrightwood.

After discovering there are several campgrounds in the area, we will definitely be returning to this beautiful slice of California.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I must admit that I do miss experiencing the distinct seasonal changes living in Southern California but I can't complain too much when you can head to the beach in October and still enjoy beautiful sunny and warm weather. With my wife off work during the weekday, we were able to secure some beach camping at Sycamore Cove campground.
I'm happy we decided to bring our bikes because in addition to the 5 miles of shoreline, there was over 70 miles of hiking/biking trails.
This doesn't look like much of a hill but I was pretty spent after climbing it with the trailer.
Sandwich break.

After biking we were able to take a short walk to the beach to cool off.
The campground is part of Point Mugu park which features the distinctive Mugu Rock.
Meanwhile, back at camp..
 We cooked up some dinner.
Then got things ready for star gazing followed by bed.
After packing up, we took our time getting back home so we could view the beautiful coastline.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lake Hemet

When we arrived in California back in 2013, I started doing some research on places to camp near bodies of water. I guess I subscribed to some type of e-mail list from Lake Hemet because I have been receiving fish re-stocking updates for the past 3 years. At 4,340ft in the San Jacinto Mountains lies Lake Hemet, an artificial lake created in 1895 with the construction of the Hemet Dam. In addition to fishing, there is a large campground offering boating, swimming and hiking.

Having arrived during the off-season allowed us the pick of virtually any site. We chose one close to the water and with some trees to hang our hammock.

I was told the campground fills up on weekends during the summer but we had the whole lake to ourselves.

It was yet another stunning SoCal day to soak up the sun and enjoy the views - especially from the back of the camper.

Although we like extended trips in the Vanagon, this was just a short overnighter which makes it easier to pack and only I have to prepare one day's worth of food. Either way, it's always a pleasure cooking in this kitchen.
We finished the day with dinner on the picnic table and then were able to watch the moon rise.

The night turned out to be quite cold and in hindsight, we should have brought our heater but we survived and woke up to another beautiful day. We couldn't resist a shot by the lake before leaving for home.