We spent the last weekend of January in this beautiful backcountry. Does it look like January? No. Thanks, California. In fact, when we got to the ranger station to grab our backpacking permits, our first choices for campsites were taken! Apparently everybody was taking advantage of this “spring in the middle of winter” that we’ve got going on here. Too funny. (& never fear, our “back up” site was prettttty amazing.)
We started the hike up here at this top of this beautiful valley. The sun was shining as we packed sandwiches for lunch and double checked our packs and then we started the trek into China Basin. It’s flat to begin with, through lots of lovely yellow California hills (& green ones, too!) and then along a flatter road, through fields of old growth California Oak trees. It’s really beautiful, with the filtered afternoon light coming through the branches.
That’s my handsome mountain man, leading the way. I really love that we both love to backpack and camp so much. <3
From there, we turned off the main trail and headed up a very hard to find little trail, that followed the river along the narrows. Okay, to be honest, we missed it the first time… But never fear, the five of us doubled back and the proceeded to hike along, criss crossing the river more times than we could count.
There were a ton of salamanders in the river and along the rocks. They are SO cute! We loved spotting them.
Here’s Nadia, holding one of the cute little guys (they move soooo slow). Aren’t they a great color? This was actually Nadia’s first backpacking trip (and potentially first camping trip?!), which was a lot of fun. So glad we could take her!
Here’s the whole crew, under the oak tree where we camped. That’s Sam & his Dad, Nadia (Sam’s sister), and her boyfriend, Ben. I’m… taking the photo, of course. haha!
We had a really fantastic campsite. There were some other campers, farther along, but we couldn’t really hear them or see them and honestly it just felt like we had the whole valley to ourselves. There’s the river, running along next to the campsites (plenty of fresh water!), lots of flat grass & dirt for throwing down tents, and some big beautiful oak trees. We could hear the bullfrogs, on and off all night (what makes them all stop at the same moment? who turns them on & off?! haha) and with only a sliver of a moon, we had more stars than you can count. I didn’t see any shooting stars, but Sam’s dad did! Lucky.
I packed in my camera and a new, lightweight tripod that I have. I’ve only backpacked it in once before (to Havasupai Falls) and I confess, I was a bit nervous about the weight. Never fear! It was totally not a burden, not too heavy, and completely worth it. I will definitely be doing this again. Every backpacking trip from now on, actually… I love these kinds of photos.
This is about three, 16 minute exposures, stacked together in Photoshop. The tent pictured? Our brand new Mountain Hardwear tent that we love so far(this one).
Overall? Great trip. The best kind of trip. Off the grid, into the backcountry, the prettiest landscapes, and lots of time with some people I love dearly. Happy trails, friends!