September 19 – 21, 2012
Camping at Sandy Flat Campground; Walking through Wolfeboro Boy Scout Camp
My husband Chris, an almost-retired firefighter captain, has a great work schedule: two days on/four days off. Because of this configuration, we are afforded the luxury of traveling during the week avoiding weekend crowds.
The two of us packed the car one Wednesday for a short camping trip and headed to the Stanislaus National Forest. I was excited about going back to the area where we used to camp 20-plus years ago.
Just beyond Big Meadow we turned off State Route 4 onto the forest service road and headed downward two steep miles. Our destination was Sandy Flat Campground. After a very dusty and bumpy ride, we arrived at camp near the river and had the place to ourselves.
Adjacent to the site is a Boy Scout Camp called Camp Wolfeboro where Chris (an Eagle Scout and a late-1970’s Wolfeboro pioneer) spent many boyhood summers.
Once the tent was up, we opened a bottle of wine then assembled the foil dinners (seasoned hamburger, potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions). We have an agreed upon routine while camping: I do all of the cutting and pre-cooking at home and Chris does all of the cooking at camp. (He even made bottles for the kids when they were babies.)
Each night we slept under the dark dome of the sky and watched the bright, twinkling stars. The ripple of the river lulled us to sleep.
Day One: The first morning we awoke to the harsh squawk of a Stellar’s jay. The air was cold and without a fire to warm us (because of fire restrictions), it was hard to get out of bed. I lingered in the tent until the sun was up. When I finally roused, my sweet husband had a hot cup of coffee and a hearty bacon, egg and cheese burrito waiting for me; both were effective hand-warmers.
The first endeavor of the day was to walk through the Boy Scout camp. The fall session had ended only days before and it was apparent that they needed to come back and close things down. While strolling through the site, Chris told me stories from his Boy Scout days pointing out where different activities took place.
As we made our way through the camp to Upper Falls, we talked about the first trip we made here together. I remembered the area being much bigger and the walk a lot farther than what it was. I didn’t remember the towering talus slopes or the high granite walls that surrounded us.
We did a lot of boulder hopping and climbing to reach Upper Falls and were hot and sweaty from the hike. At the top, the water looked inviting. After some hesitation, we popped into the icy river for a quick, breathtaking dip. Afterwards, we laid in the sun and thawed. We recalled the years we used to jump off the rocks and slide down the waterfall. Damp, but refreshed, we walked back to Bend Camp, an area inside the Boy Scout camp.
We ate lunch at the waterfront at Bend Camp. It was a lovely place to spend the afternoon and we partook of the natural pleasures: the sandy beach, warm sun, and cold river. We considered taking one of the canoes for a ride, but did not.
Afterwards we played a competitive game of Scrabble, and enjoyed a glass or two of wine from Butterfly Creek Winery, a local winery near home.
As the sun set, I explored the river behind our campsite and Chris cooked dinner. On the menu was: BBQ’d teriyaki chicken, rice pilaf, Caesar salad, and corn-on-the-cob with apple pie for dessert. We haven’t been car camping in a long time, only backpacking. Having lots of food to eat is a comfort we will miss on our next backpacking trip.
Day Two: The second morning was warmer and easier to leave the tent as the birds began their break of day banter. The sun was just starting to tickle the tops of the trees and the wind blew softly through their branches. We didn’t have anything planned for the day, so we sat and watched the chipmunks forage for food. After lazing around camp for as long as we comfortably could, we decided to pack up and leave.
We drove to Lake Alpine about seven miles up State Route 4.
We stopped at Hell’s Kitchen scenic viewpoint and walked the short trail that led through the glacial erratic.
We drove into Calaveras Big Trees but decided to forgo the walk there when we saw that it cost to get in. The last time we were there it was free. Lastly, we stopped in Sonora, the county seat of Tuolumne County, and walked around some of the old shops. We ate lunch at Mi Pueblo, a Mexican restaurant where they made the best (and biggest) glass of sangria I’ve had.
This was a nostalgic trip down memory lane for the two of us. We fondly recalled camping here with our children; holiday weekends here with family and friends; good times around the campfire; and fun boyhood summers.