Wednesday, May 25, 2016 to Monday, May 30, 2016, I enjoyed another fine camping trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with my brother, Michael Rench, brother-in-law Greg Wilson, and friends Dan Wier and Mark Bliss. Another great camping trip with a great group of friends and family!
Photo: Wednesday, May 25, 2016, and the plan was to camp at Jerseydale Campground, near Yosemite National Park, but the Forest Service had closed the campground for "safety reasons," and it had fallen into disuse. So, we had to come up with a "Plan B," and we decided to head 50 miles south, and camp at Chilkoot Campground, north-east of Bass Lake, not far from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park.
Chilkoot is one of the many "pay" campgrounds that dot the landscape in the Sierra National Forest, between Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, east of Fresno. The cost at this writing is $26.22 per night for ONE vehicle, and one extra vehicle incurs an additional cost of $7.00. That's over $33.00 a night! If you have three or four vehicles, you must pay for a second camp site. I stay at many motels, albeit 1 or 2 star motels for $29.95 a night... So, what do you get at Chilkoot campground for over $30.00 a night? You get beautiful mountain scenery, a seasonal creek, a friendly campground host, a place to pitch your tent, or park your motorhome, a fire pit, a picnic table, a centrally-located dumpster, and adequate, but not great, pit toilets. There is NO potable water included, so you can treat the water from the creek or bring your own water.
There is no "iron ranger," and the camp host was taking leave - the sign says to pay the campground host directly - so we stayed for the night, but broke camp the next morning, and headed to another location that I vaguely remembered, from 20+ years ago, when I was a resident of Fresno.
We arrived about 2 o'clock in the afternoon and hurriedly made camp, as the sky was black and it looked like we were in store for a thundershower. Sure enough, about 3, the thunder, lightning and rain started, and it poured for the next three hours. What a great way to start a camping trip!
Photo: The next morning, we broke camp and headed a few miles east on Beasore Road, near Bass Lake, and turned south on a secondary Forest Service Road that eventually will take you to Central Camp. We set up camp in a cleared area, secluded from the road, in a off-the-beaten track location. Our camp was perfect for us, as we could shoot our guns to our heart's content with leaving camp. We didn't have potable water, picnic tables, pit toilets or a campground host, but the price was right, as it was free.
Photo: Thursday evening, May 26, 2016, it was my turn to cook dinner, so I grilled potatoes and pork. Dan cooked stir-fry veggies on his wok, which made a delicious dinner.
Photo: Friday, May 27, 2016, Dan engages in target practice at our camp, with his 12-gauge "Turkey Gun." This is a semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun, made in Turkey. It features a detachable 8-round magazine, so it's perfectly legal in California, and it's a lot of fun to shoot.
Photo: That afternoon, Michael spotted a squirrel, and Dan nailed it with his "Turkey Gun," so we were going to be treated to squirrel tonight for dinner.
Photo: The squirrel was a "team effort," as Dan and Michael bagged it, skinned and cleaned it, and I patted it down, and applied carne asada dry rub to it a couple of hours before we threw it on the grill to cook. Yes, I'm all smiles, as this is my first photo preparing freshly-killed game for the grill.
Photo: Our squirrel is cooking on the grill. We regretted we didn't have anything to stuff it with, like a turkey, as that would have added to the meal.
Photo: Chef Dan grins, as he presents the squirrel. At the last minute, we decided to baste the squirrel with barbecue sauce, to partly mask the "gamy" taste, and to make the stringy meat a bit more tender.
Photo: Tonight's dinner was delicious, and a "team effort" from all of us. We enjoyed grilled pork, grilled squirrel, beans, fresh salsa, and fresh avocado slices. The squirrel is to the right of the photo, and is basted in barbecue sauce. Not shown in the photo are lots of fresh corn tortillas. Muy sabroso!
Photo: The next day, Saturday, May 28, 2016, a group of Jeepers from the Coarsegold area parked on the main road, outside our camp, and I hopped on the back of Dan's quad, and we drove out to chit-chat with them. Quite a friendly group of fine people! They were headed up to Shuteye Lookout, but we know they never made it, at least in their Jeeps, as the trail was impassable, as it was covered wit several feet of show. You would have needed a snow cat, or a snowmobile, to drive to Shuteye on this late morning, in late May.
Photo: After visiting with the Jeepers, Dan managed to catch an alligator lizard, which he decided to take home for a pet. I remember a camping trip a couple of years ago in Jerseydale, where Dan caught a scorpion and took it home for a pet.
Photo: Sunday, May 29, 2016, Dan cooks chorizo for breakfast, as Mark looks on, approvingly.
Photo: The night before, Dan and Mark drove into town, and purchased chorizo, hash brown patty, cheese and fresh salsa, for breakfast this morning. This morning, we were in for a treat, as we were to enjoy a breakfast of chorizo, hash brown, egg and cheese burritos, with fresh salsa on the side. Yummy! Note Dan's wok, which he uses to cook nearly every meal. It's unique, as it actually a disc from a plow! It's well-seasoned, as he's used it for several years, and Dan is an ace when it comes to cooking with this contraption. It's heated via propane, over a Dan-built propane stove.
Photo: Greg enjoys his breakfast burrito.
Photo: My chorizo, hash brown, egg, cheese and salsa burrito, all spread out, before I rolled it up, in true burrito fashion, and enjoyed my delicious breakfast. It was so good, I enjoyed a second one!
Photo: Dan takes my photo, as I chow down on my second helping. I was so eager to enjoy it that I didn't even take the time to roll into a burrito, and at it as a large taco. Muy sabroso!
Photo: Dan and Michael pose with some of the many guns we brought to fire, and enjoy on this trip. We are safe, responsible shooters, as we set up a safe range, and religiously follow all safety rules when it comes to firearms. All firearms we carry are "California legal." If you look closely, you'll see two "Bug-a-Salt" shotguns, which we used to kill a host of flies, and other pesky insects, who invaded out camp.
Photo: Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, I decided to take the "long way" home, via Yosemite National Park, specifically the high country, as Tioga Pass had just opened for the season. A "must-stop-view" is Olmstead Point, where you're treated to a beautiful view of Half Dome, North Dome, and Tenaya Canyon.
Photo: My last stop in Yosemite National Park was at Dana Meadows, east of Tuolumne Meadows. Photo shows Mt. Dana in the background, with the half-melted "lake" in the foreground. The "lake" is actually Dana Meadows, but now, it resembles a half-melted snow cone. Photo is taken about a quarter mile west of Tioga Pass, elevation, 9,949 feet. Tioga Pass is the highest mountain pass in California.
Photo: On this Monday evening, I didn't feel like going home, so after crossing Tioga Pass, I headed for Hawthorne, Nevada, to spend the night. Photo is taken at the state line. As usual, I did some serious restaurant eating while visiting Hawthorne. Check out my Hawthorne, and other Nevada eating activities by clicking on THIS LINK. Enjoy!
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