Every summer Alpenglow Sports hosts an annual, free Mountain Festival, filled with adventure and fun for people of all ages and skill levels. When I saw backpacking and backcountry gourmet on the menu, I was sold. If there’s anything I love almost as much as being outside, it’s food. And cats, but that’s a different story. Alpenglow Sports partnered with Michelle from Adventure Dining Guide to lead a women’s trip out into the wilderness. The destination was originally Desolation Wilderness, but with the ridiculous snow year, plans changed to Watson Lake. It was a little closer and suited for women of all skill levels. Coming straight from sea level, I was a little grateful for the venue change and for being spared many miles of huffing at the back of the group like a fool.
This winter was a Sierra snow year for the books. I’ve lived in California all my life but don’t remember a winter where it rained for three months straight. All the snow meant my Sierra objectives were looking a little bleak and buried. I brushed up on my map and compass skills with REI and hit the trail in Mokelumne Wilderness at the beginning of June. My destination was a place I’ve never been: Fourth of July Lake in the Carson Pass Management Area.
If you’ve got a car, good company, and some time to kill, camping in the Bay Area is just a stone’s throw away. Saturday night campsites are generally booked months in advance. Weeknights? You’ll have a better chance. I was stuck in the Bay Area one Saturday for a Chainsmokers concert. A quick browse on recreation.gov showed a Friday night Glen Camp site at Point Reyes National Seashore. I whipped out my credit card with lightning speeds, and within seconds, a campsite nestled in the woods was mine.
Point Reyes National Seashore is one of California’s hidden gems. Outshone by more famous national parks in the state, it’s a bit of a local secret. That’s not to say it isn’t as equally busy, or as hard to score a campsite, as the state’s other national parks. The backcountry campsites at Point Reyes are always booked months in advance. I’ve day hiked there numerous times, but sleeping out there under the fog is something that I’ve never done until this past spring. After months of torrential downpour earlier this year, a site opened up at Coast Camp in for a Saturday in March. With no plans on the horizon, I grabbed it immediately.
Nestled deep in the Santa Cruz mountains, down some twisty roads, is my favorite local state park: Portola Redwoods. Creeks, short waterfalls and old growth redwoods are tucked inside this lesser traveled park. The trees aren’t as large as the ones found in nearby Big Basin State Park, but more often than not, you’ll find them in solitude. Weekend obligations kept me in the Bay Area a few weeks ago so I popped over to this park for a bit of solo hiking and mileage in preparation for long missions this summer.