Campground at 39.9018, -120.1735. Driving time from Oakland, CA: about 5 hrs.
Date: May 26, 2012
Memorial Day is the time when citizens and residents of USA pay their respects to people who lost their lives in defense of the nation. Having a Federal day off work also allows families to spend more time together. For many years now, our quail family have been taking advantage of this long weekend to go camping outside of our usual radius of 2 hours drive from home to a trailhead. We have our hot spots: campgrounds we go back to every now and then, but usually we go to new places, where we've never been before. This time the dice fell on Frenchman lake, in Plumas National Forest, in the north-east region of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 10 miles north of the town of Chilcoot.
Camping in the mountains this time of year can be weather-challenging. A forecast predicting precipitation on Saturday caused us to replace the swimsuits with snow suits and pack extra blankets.
We left home on Friday evening, with the idea of getting a head-start on the road and not spend to much of Saturday's day light driving. I don't know if it was due to improved road conditions or due to the high gas prices that might have caused many people to refrain from travel, but there was no traffic problem at all. In less than two hours we reached Sacramento where we booked a hotel room for the night. With the chickas already after dinner and a bath, and in their pajamas, all that was needed was to carry them to bed.
Easy traffic on Saturday morning brought us quickly to Truckee, where we turned northward onto Hy89. After a few miles we found a nice spot to stop and let the chickas play in the fresh snow.
|Light, new snow on the trees near Truckee|
|New spring growth braving the snow|
The chickas art work :-)
After that short break we continued northward to Sierraville where we turned right on Hy49 . This region ia a flat valley between nestled between the main range of the Sierra Nevada and the Plumes mountains to the north. This flat valley, still at high elevation, has the look and feel of a tundra and is used primarily as cattle-raising farmland. Many birds enjoy the grassy plains and cow pies as well, and we stopped several times to photograph them.
|Red-wing black bird|
|A juvenile red-tail hawk|
The hawk was busy with its latest kill:
Right on Hy70 and left in Chilcoot, onto 284 (North) brought us back to the mountains, but these are mountains of a different kind - volcanic. I had not known before that the area north of Chilcoot was volcanic and was awed by the impressive basalt walls that stand erect on both sides of the road.
We met the first interesting wildlife right by the camp site:
|This silk ball is a home for many caterpillars whose species I do not know.|
|One of the inhabitants straying away from home|
|The bush itself was a pretty sight.|
Soon our friends arrived as well and we set up the tents and went to explore the campground area. This included climbing on the near by volcanic rocks, a home to many violet-green swallows.
|The beautiful terrain overseeing the campground|
|One of the local residents: a violet-green swallow.|
|Frenchman Lake, a view to the North-West|
Then the rain started again and we descended from the rocks.
|Rain ripples in a rock puddle|
|A chipping sparrow|
|A western bluebird, male|
But the chickas were completely fascinated with a magnificent slik moth that they found on the ground by the trail. The poor creature was dying and it was touching to see the children nurturing the moth as best as they could. Later, when it was finally dead, they gave it a proper burial ceremony.