July 31st 2008
This was the most beautiful campground I stayed in. The drive there was awful; the payoff was great.
Actually, only part of the drive was bad. I took Highway 89/36 south out of Lassen Park, then cut south again when 89 goes its own way. This was beautiful country, marred only by smoke from a new fire on Highway 70 near Belden or Twain. In fact, 70 westbound was closed to traffic, but I headed east toward Reno riding through Quincy and Portola before hitting Highway 395 near the Nevada border.
That’s where it got yucky–Highway 395 into Reno is wide and fast; out of Reno (and through Carson City all the way to Minden) it’s not much more than any slow billboard-laden drag in any big city. Constant stoplights, crowds of cars inching along, huge, gaudy casinos lining the blocks. I was trying to get all the way to Bridgeport and it was already late (5 or so) when I passed through Reno, so I knew I was eating up sunlight sitting at those interminable stoplights.
I couldn’t have been happier crossing back into California where the highway becomes a scenic by-way south of Topaz Lake, hugging the river and winding through the eastern foothills of the Sierra. I seriously thought of turning off into one of the many National Forest campgrounds between Walker and the Sonora Junction, but I pressed on.
Originally, I meant to stay at a campground called Green Creek, about 10 miles south of Bridgeport, but when I finally got to the turnoff, it turned out to be down 8.5 miles of graded dirt road, and I decided the bike and I had had enough for the day! I knew there was another campground called Honeymoon Flat on the Twin Lakes road out of Bridgeport, so back I went (stopping briefly for a bottle of wine for the evening). I got to Honeymoon Flat about 7:30 and the sun was nearly behind the mountains. By sheer luck, I found a campsite that wasn’t reserved until Saturday night right next to the creek!
The pictures don’t do the site justice. I stretched my hammock just feet from the water and had the wildest dreams as it murmured nearby all night. Twice I got up to answer nature in the middle of the night and it must have been a new moon, since the only light was starlight–billions of them. A slice of the Milky Way cut east-west across the sky and there were so many stars, I could only make out the most obvious constellations. I just stood a while, engulfed.