Last week I spent my days off camping in the mountains. Yes, camping a mile from my house. Camping right outside my front door is actually quite nice. It means I can simply drive home (thirteen minute round trip) when I forget camping essentials (Like my super warm Uggs) It also means the store is only two minutes away when we run out of beer. Yea.
The area we chose to camp in on this August evening is called Keller’s Peak. Its up a windy road near the rustic mountain town of Running Springs. The altitude is over 6,000 feet. There are pine trees and manzanita bushes every where, its so mountain pretty up there. Its not a well known spot. Pretty much only locals know about it; and the well kept secret… You can camp at Keller’s Peak for free!
There are nine designated camp grounds and there are no reservations. There are posted signs you can only camp at Keller’s Peak for fourteen straight days. I think that’s because some people, I suspect might pretty much live up there in the summer months! Some of the camper trucks we passed on the way up looked like they hadn’t moved in a while. With only nine camp sites available you just have to hope that the resident hippies haven’t taken all of them!
The down side with camping in the San Bernardino National Forest? For the most part campfires are illegal. So I was surprised when a friend of mine told me she thought we were allowed to have camp fires this time of year at Keller’s Peak. Sure enough, their website informed me to just stop at the Ranger Station and get a permit.
The ranger station is less than a two minute drive from my house so this wasn’t a problem. We would grab a camp fire permit real quick from smokey the bear. Or so I thought. What I didn’t expect was to walk into the Running Springs Ranger Station and be greeted by children. Yes, this local Ranger Station was maned by a spunky group of fourteen to ten year olds. Only in the mountains. Okay it had to be some ranger in training kind of program, which is pretty cool and a great way for kids to spend their summer but still it was pretty hilarious that the kids are in charge of handing out these legal permits. I guess the children didn’t think i would start a wild fire because they gave me a permit no questions asked. They didn’t even ask if I had a shovel to put out the fire! This doesn’t sound very safe for the future well being of the forest to me. I’ve gone through plenty of evacuations. Wild fires are no fun.
With margaritas in the cooler and a crisp fire permit in hand we made the drive up to Keller’s by around two. Good thing we were so early; all but two campsites were already taken! The one we chose was awesome. It was a quarter mile down a dirt road, so far off the road and no where near any other people. We took our time setting up our tent and gathering fire wood, we still had lots of time before the sun would set. That’s when the bugs started coming out. Luckily as the sun set low behind the trees I whipped out my 35 percent Deet burn your skin bug spray. I believe that’s about as high a Deet percent as they sell, legally in California.
|these guys are way cuter when they are not in my yard|