Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Last Days in the Northern Sierra

We spent a week, including Memorial Day holiday, in tiny Canyon Dam, CA situated at the southern end of Lake Almanor. With only 31 people there is not much to the town; a couple of RV parks, small general store, kayak rentals...the focus here is the lake.

We stayed at Whispering Pines RV Park, a 25 site park with full hook ups, gravel roads and sites, nice concrete patios and a table at each site and lots of beautiful grass and trees. This is a one man operation and Stuart works hard to make this a pleasant place to stay.

The park is right off the highway but it's not too noisy. There are also train tracks adjacent to the park and several freight trains pass by each day at a very slow pace to negotiate some tight turns. Fortunately they rarely blow their whistles. AT&T signal was good, Verizon was weak, and the park wifi was sporadic.

With the southern Lake Almanor boat launch just half a mile away, the RV park gets lots of fishermen and there is plenty of space to park boats on site, plus a fish cleaning station.

The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is an 11 mile paved path that runs along the south west shore of Lake Almanor, with the southern trail head at the Canyon Dam Boat Launch parking lot, just half a mile from our RV park. We first rode this trail when we stayed in the area in June 2014 and fell in love with this curvy path of gentle hills through healthy forest with gorgeous views of the lake.

Most of the bike path is through heavy forest which is really pleasant to ride through on a hot summer day.
But when you stop and walk through the forest to the edge of the lake your view just might include beautiful,
snow capped Mt Lassen.

Five miles into our 21 mile bike ride this happened:
I braked into a turn going down a small hill and ended up meeting the pavement with my body! 

After regaining my composure I decided the scratches were pretty superficial and everything was still working both on my body and on the bike so we continued our ride, and I am so glad we did! It was such a nice day in such a beautiful setting that the accident was really just a blip in an otherwise perfect day along Lake Almanor.

The shocking red of Sarcodes are hard to miss among the browns and grays and greens of the forest.

Taken from a perfectly placed bench along the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail.

It's now been a week since my accident and the scratches on the leg are practically healed (the skin was protected by my bike shorts which didn't even rip!), but the bruise on my thigh is huge and grotesque! The arm is still all scabbed up, but is healing like it should.

Hans broke a tooth while we were in Quincy the previous week so one day we drove the 30 miles back there so he could get a crown done. We appreciated the ability to get a crown in one day, but small town dentists are not inexpensive!

On the way home we stopped off at Round Valley Reservoir near the town of Greenville for a hike. We walked forest roads all the way around the reservoir for a pretty six mile hike (a little longer than the 1.5 miles I thought I had read!).

Sand hill cranes in a meadow at Round Valley Reservoir.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through Plumas County and there are several places to hop on for a day hike. We hiked a three mile section of the PCT where it passes near lovely Domingo Spring.

Domingo Spring is a seasonal spring thanks to snow melt from Lassen that pops out of these rocks!
Just a quarter mile from the Pacific Crest Trail, it's a great place for through-hikers to replenish their water supplies.

We passed this pretty and very wet meadow soon after we started our hike on the PCT.

The PCT climbed through forest for a couple of miles before we started to hit some large snow drifts.
At this point we decided we'd had enough, but not before I spotted this reflection of a snow drift on a snow melt pond.

Now that's a hardy mushroom!

A morel!
We took a drive through pretty Indian Valley one day, making a stop at the excellent Indian Valley Museum. This small hidden gem has a ton of artifacts representing the area's mining, logging, and Native American history as well as a large collection of gems and minerals. The day we visited 93 year old Francis Musser, who owns the gem and mineral collection was there telling stories of his life in the valley.

Indian River.

Tired youngster.

The lakes in the area are known for excellent fishing and Hans had been contemplating fresh trout for dinner one day as we biked the lake trail...when we arrived home that afternoon our neighbor showed up with three enormous fish he'd just caught and gifted us one of those beauties! Delicious!

Lake Almanor trout.

Our final two days in the northern Sierras/southern Cascades have been spent just outside the entrance to Lassen National Park at The Village at Childs Meadow. Arriving on Memorial Day we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It looks as though this was once an RV park that was left to the elements for several years and new owners are working to make it habitable again.

They have 22 FHU sites and 7 tent sites which are all currently in a very rustic state, though the utilities look new. Hopefully they will bring in some gravel to level out the sites. During our brief stay the restrooms and laundry were out of order. Management is refurbishing a convenience store/cafe and a row of motel rooms. AT&T signal is poor, Verizon is good.

This is a really lovely location with forest behind the park, beautiful Childs Meadow and a fancy resort and restaurant across the highway and Lassen National Park a few miles down the road. We walked a several miles of forest roads right from the RV park with some wonderful meadow views.

Meadow views on a walk from the RV park.

Spencer Meadow National Recreation Trail head is just a quarter mile from the RV park. We weren't up for the entire 13 mile lollipop loop, but we did enjoy 3.5 miles of the trail through healthy forest that, like most of the trails we've hiked in the northern Sierras this spring, was full of downed trees from big winds and plenty of snow melt streams.

2.5 miles of steady climbing through thick, healthy forest brought us to this fantastic view of Childs Meadow.
Our RV park is in the trees below Hans' hand.

This dramatic rock outcropping was a surprise after all the forest hiking we'd done.

Downed trees change the course of any existing streams.

The animal of the day was frogs! Lots of these little guys were hopping out of our path.

Most were gray like the frog in the previous photo, but this one matched the pine cone debris.

We often had to make detours around fallen trees.

The mountains we've had the pleasure of exploring these past few weeks have had many magnificent specimens of old growth trees...ponderosa pine, sugar pine, douglas fir, incense cedar. We discovered the ponderosa pine below right behind our RV park.

I LOVE giant trees!

We've extended our stay in the mountains by several days to avoid excessive heat along the I-5 corridor in northern California but today it's time to bite the bullet and head into Redding. Fortunately the temps will only be in the 80's, not pushing 100 like it has been. A brief stay to stock up then we continue north to a meetup with a very special person.

I almost forgot...we got to share our reasons for full timing on The Wandering RV. Check it out!


  1. You're supposed to fall on a gnarly mountain bike trail, not on a paved path ;-) Don't know if you used it, but Tegaderm is great for road rash type abrasions. You can leave it on for a few days even when showering. We carry it in our packs just in case!
    Looks like you found a great place to spend the holiday week.

    1. No kidding! Never heard of Tegaderm, thanks for the tip.

      Yeah, it was not a bad place for the holiday. Only two children in the entire park!

  2. Oh, Lisa, I can feel your pain! Luckily, my bad falls were closer to the ground. But continuing is the best thing to do. I've felt if I had stopped, things would swell and be worse. Good for you to keep going:) But those bruises are ugly for a long time. Glad you are healing.

    You certainly found some beautiful forest trails despite the heavier snow cover this year. I don't think this would be the year to be a through hiker on the PCT!

    1. Yeah, I've kept going every day and I am sure it has helped with my mobility! Fortunately the bruise is so high on the leg it is easy to hide!

      Through-hiking the PCT will be next to impossible this year!

  3. Oh boy those do look nasty. But I agree, if nothing is broken, best to keep going. Once I sit down is when everything starts to be most painful. Glad to hear it is all mending well. You sure picked a beautiful place for your ride and your hikes. I'd love to do some small sections of the PCT like I did 105 miles of the AT a couple of summers ago. Love those snow capped mountains and the river picture is just gorgeous.

    1. We have been able to hike numerous pieces of the PCT over the years, especially since we lived in San Diego for many years and were close to the start of the trail. It is a truly great trail!

  4. I loved visiting Lassen National Park a couple of years ago. Too bad the park is still under snow, but it looks like you found some really great alternate hikes.

    1. Yes, we didn't even try to access Lassen this time...though we may come back through the area in the fall.

  5. glad to read those nasty scrapes are healing. The lakes and forests are magnificent! The photo of the fern and red flowers is so pretty. I love giant trees too...awesome picture!

    1. This part of California is really beautiful...and it's so nice to see health forest.

  6. You are a beast forging on with those nasty scrapes -- it hurt me just to look at them! Gorgeous scenery, though. I am out of traveling & cycling commission this season with a broken jaw from a cycling accident so am living vicariously through people like you two. Enjoy your summer and, as they say, keep the rubber side down (I didn't, and look where it got me!!!)

    1. Oooooh, sounds like I got off easy compared to your accident! Hope you have a speedy recovery.

  7. That hurt. Make sure to watch for infection after rolling in the dirt. Mike did the same and ended up with cellulitis. Enough of the mom nurse note.
    The fish looks great and we enjoyed seeing your write up on Wandering RV. Be careful tough girl.

    1. Thanks for the tip...I looked it up and I have no swollen, hot, tender spots so I think I'm ok!

  8. Your adventures around and near Lake Almanor look fabulous! You guys are adding such great stops to our list. But OMG your boo-boos look so painful. :-(( I'm sure you do have quite a lasting bruise from that fall. So fun that you scored a rainbow trout for dinner! I want to ride that bike trail and go to the Indian Valley Museum. And I want someone to give us a rainbow trout for dinner. :-)

    1. I'm sure you guys would enjoy these northern Sierra mountains...just with less snow! I really enjoyed the gems and minerals on display at the museum...but I have a thing for rocks!

      Haven't had a fall like this in's not pretty!

  9. Ouch!! but at least you saw some beautiful country.

  10. OUCH! Gonna take that a while to scab over and quit weeping...and then there's the road rash.

  11. OMG, I wonder how you felt the morning after :) that looks so painful. At least you were able to continue your biking after that. Thanks for all these places you explored, I know one day we might be heading that way again.

    1. Surprisingly the first few days were no it's more uncomfortable as the healing continues!

  12. Your pics of this area are fabulous - every one is some place I want to see! Glad you survived your bike dive - looks very ouchy! I always hate the itchies of healing :-( I'm surprised you could see those tiny frogs on the trail. Their blending is incredible.

    1. Lots of fishing in these NorCal mountains for Bill!