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Lakes Basin 2007 Trip

Day 1 of 4

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Thursday, August 30th
Drive to Salmon Creek campground

For a variety of reasons, I've started doing our weekend trips on Thursdays rather than Fridays. It makes a big difference. If you head up on a Thursday, you're almost guaranteed to find a camp site in those places that don't take reservations. You'll also avoid the Friday traffic, and also be able to hike mostly by yourself on Friday.

Even so, since this was Labor Day weekend, I reserved a site in advance. More and more campgrounds are now taking reservations. I don't think Salmon Creek took reservations 7 years ago, when we last visited this campground. About 2 weeks in advance, I was able to reserve a site at Salmon Creek. It cost a little more to reserve, but it seems worth it to have that peace of mind, especially on a holiday weekend.

We left the Bay Area around 11:15am, encountering little traffic. Our only delay was just past Downieville, where we had to wait about 5 minutes due to road construction. There are two main routes I can think of from the Bay Area to Salmon Creek campground. Either take 80 to Truckee, then 89 north and then 49 east, or take 80 to Auburn, then 49 through Downieville. I've now taken both routes in both directions, and still can't decide which is best (Google maps says the Truckee route is 7 minutes slower, but I'm not convinced it is). On this occasion, we took the Downieville route, arriving in about 4 1/2 hours of driving time. I will say that the Downieville route is more technical (i.e., it has lots of sharp turns). That kind of driving takes a lot of energy; the Truckee route is more straightforward.

We arrived at the campground at 4:30pm to find nobody there. Well, actually, there were a few people, but no campers in the loop area at the south end of the camp where we were staying (site number 9). We literally had the whole place to ourselves for one night. I could see from the board at the entrance that only 4 sites in the whole campground were reserved for Thursday night, while almost all the sites were reserved starting on Friday night.

Salmon Creek was only about 100 feet from our site, just across the road. It provided a constant source of amusement for our kids, as they liked to head over and throw rocks into the water. It also provided a soothing sound during the night, as the sound of rushing water was clearly audible throughout the night.

Deluxe bear box with shelf!

Salmon Creek

One downside of our site was the lack of good shade. The trees at our site were very sparse. Considering how hot it had been in the Bay Area over the past few days, this was a little worrisome, but we had ample shade by the time we returned to our camp in late afternoons.

Another downside of the campground is the restroom facilities, which consists of some ramshackle pit toilets. There was also only one faucet for the entire loop section of the camp. It also provided some questionable water. The water we got from it on Thursday and early Friday was yellow and appeared to have some sort of yellow solid substance in it (kind of looked liken pollen), which was apparent after boiling. I suspect that this is because the pipes in this area hadn't been used for days, as we were probably the first ones to use it since at least Sunday. The water grew clearer by the time other campers arrived on Friday. Still, we ended up buying some bottled water on Friday and only used the camp faucet for washing dishes, not drinking.

It had been 102 degrees in Sacramento that day, but it was simply warm and comfortable at Salmon Creek campground. It was so warm, however, that we decided to sleep without the rain fly on our tent, which is pretty rare for us.


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