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Cinder, Loam and Chalk

By | February 12, 2011

Monday November 15, 2010

Reno to Burney Falls State Park, CA and Cave Campground, Lassen National Forest

Now that I’m on the road, what do I do with my time? So far in Reno, I’ve started doing yoga on my own, I’ve biked around a bit to get to know the area, I’ve been to three acroyoga classes, read one novel, shopped for midweight base layers at the Patagonia outlet store sale, babysat a little, gone on two short hikes with Nathan and the kids, and been to one weird Burner rock opera.

Nathan and Marie and I have discussed taking the kids camping for the last two weekends, but between Nash having an ear infection and the general difficulty of carting a five year old and a ten month old a couple of hours away to sleep in a tent where it will probably be below freezing at night, we haven’t done it yet. But, it has given me so many great ideas about interesting places to visit. So yesterday, with the weather reports showing temperatures climbing back up to the low 60′s, I decided to take a couple of days to camp on my own, before rain and snow arrived later in the week.

I headed up north. First stop, hiking at Burney Falls.
Teddy Roosevelt purportedly called these the “eighth wonder of the world!” They are beautiful. The way the falls spread out wider than the creek they emerge from makes them look to me like falls you might find in Hawaii rather than Northern California.

I walked quietly down the creek, coming upon the lake, listening to birds of both the screeching and twittering varieties. There had been two couples at the falls overlook, but there was no one but me on the trail. I practiced my nature identification skills as my family describes me doing as a small child: “Moss, lichen, lichen, moss.” Moss covered rocks lined the hillsides. With no one else around, it seemed as if the fairies would come out of their homes at any minute!

Taking note of the nature trail signs, I looked out for Ponderosa Pines, with their puzzle piece bark, and the smaller incense cedar trees, with straighter, shaggier bark. I found one tiny maple tree with golden fall leaves. Many sections of the trail were also covered with oak leaves. Being used to the large oaks in the Midwest, these leaves looked miniature. I wandered past many clumps of Manzanita, with its smooth, red bark.

I had taken the Falls Loop to the Rim Trail, back through the campground to the Falls Overlook. It was a little more than three miles, according to a suggestion on the Internet, though things were rearranged a little with some construction on the trail near the base of the falls, and not every intersection was clearly marked.

At 2:30, I decided to do the Headwaters Trail, too. It was still a little too early to set up camp, and there wasn’t really anything else to do for miles around. The earlier walk had been more of a stroll. I stopped frequently to take in my surroundings. For this last bit, I decided to walk at a faster clip. I wasn’t so much paying attention to nature as seeing how fast my muscles could carry me. I certainly wasn’t running or anything. I love looking around, but it is also a great experience to just feel good moving around in the crisp air among the trees!

I made my way over to Cave Campground. Unfortunately, the actual cave across the street was closed for the season. Though this was the inaugural voyage of my new tent, I had set it up in Nathan and Marie’s living room to make sure all the pieces were there and functional to avoid a repeat of my last camping experience, so it was fine.

Once it gets dark, on a solo trip like this, there’s not much to do but curl up in your sleeping bag and go to sleep. I think I read by flashlight for a bit, but it’s hard to do that and keep all limbs inside a mummy sleeping bag, which I needed to do to stay warm. So I went to bed early, and I woke up with the sun. Which is one of the great things about camping, of course.

Though it’s not quite as great when most of the campground is in the shade and there’s frost on your tent. I jumped around in little spots of sun for a while, then gave up and ate breakfast in the car with the heater on. With so many hiking areas closed for the season, weather reports that it was only going to get colder, and it already taking so long for my fingers to warm up, I decided to call it a fabulous trip and head back to Reno instead of farther afield. Sometimes it’s challenging to spend time by yourself!

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