After our aborted attempt to camp at Anerson Flats because of the wannabe militia types we needed a new place to stay. Coming back up out of the valley we ended up at the Groveland District Office of the Stanislaus National Forest. Right up the road from the office, all of an 1/10th of a mile we saw the sign for The Pines Campground. Instead of looking around for another option we just decided to stay put here for a day or two so we could get all our wet stuff dried out and organized after the quick, wet packing job. What sealed the deal was the fact that, being off-season, it was free and there was only one other person in the campground and he was at one end so we could stay at the other end and not cross paths.
The toilets, picnic tables and bear boxes were also pluses.
There were two signs that let us know things were not all hunky dory though. One sign warned us that the water offered from faucets in the campground needed to be boiled before use. Having spent so much time in the desert where water is scarce and precious and the supply is limited by what we can carry it was still a bonus to have water available, even if we did have to use a bit more fuel than usual to make it safe. We actually decided to save our limited amount of stove fuel for cooking and heating water for coffee and instead use our SteriPEN to sterilize any little nasties that might be present in the water. That seemed to work well as neither one of us had any sort of gastrointestinal distress after using that water source for several days. The other sign that we did not like was the one warning us that The Plague had been found in several species of ground dwelling rodents and to be careful. Darn, now I can’t fulfill my plan to capture and domesticate a chipmunk. Kidding. Willow would have something less than kind to say about that plan.
Right across the access road from where our specific campsite (#12) was there was a small sign informing us that a little forest and a hiking trail was right there for our enjoyment.
I remember seeing a bigger sign that seemed related to this one over near the Ranger Station so we decided to try out the trail and work our way over that direction. Once we walked up into the small forest we found small numbered posts pointing the way along the trail.
As usual, Willow decided that she would be the one to lead this hike and proceeded to trot ahead, scout the way and keep me safe from any of those ground dwelling plague carriers.
The trail circled around the small hill and when we finally reached the literal fork in the road we took the one that lead down towards the ranger station.
Down at the base of the hill near what seemed to be Forest Employee Housing we exited the Kids Forest and found the Big Sign which explained the trail we were just on.
While we were at this campground we knew we were relatively close to Yosemite National Park and wanted to visit as soon as the weather broke. After a couple days of wet, overcast weather the conditions improved and we took the opportunity to make a day of it and explore some of my old, summer stomping grounds as a youth when my parents brought the family up to the Park at least once a year. It was a beautiful day and we had a good time and then came back here for another couple of days.
We might have stayed longer but for an unusual display of cluelessness by fellow campers. It works much like urinal ettiquette. Gentlemen, back me up here.
Just like the urinals above with Mr. Blue Shirt being an idiot and having some glaring spacing issues, campsites should work in the same manner which is, when there are many sites/spots to choose from you do not, I repeat, do not bypass numerous other options and set up your camp directly next to someone already camping.
So, there are 12 campsites at the Pines Campground as well as a group campsite. Willow and I were set up in #12 and that other camper was (correctly so) set up way over there in #4. That leaves around six acceptable possibilities to set up camp in without encroaching on someone else’s (namely our) space…and especially when you are arriving rather late at night. What happened on Thursday evening still blows my mind. It was dark and we were settled for the evening. At around 10pm we heard a car enter the campsite and could tell from the headlights that they were making a quick loop through the campground to look for a suitable spot. Imagine my surprise then when they come down the access road towards us and pull directly into site #11, all of 10 feet from us!?! Three humans (two adults and one child) and one dog piled out of the car and immediately headed towards the bathrooms and we breathed a sigh of relief as we thought they might be just stopping in to use the restrooms and then would be on their way. Even if that was the case though they could have parked elsewhere and not disturbed us. Crushing disappointment and ire then set in as they then proceed to loudly start unpacking and setting up camp. A true WTF moment. Again, my conflict resolution skills are somewhat lacking but I did resist the urge to jump out of the Tacoma with something like a baseball bat in hand and proceed to teach them a little lesson on campsite spacing etiquette. I am patting myself on the back right this instant as I write this post and remember my outward calmness. What Restraint.
The next morning they packed up their PT Cruiser while making as much clanking, slamming and swearing noise as possible. The dog was actually the best behaved and quite mammal in their group. We felt bad for such a nice, calm, quiet dog to have to live in a PT Cruiser with such wretchedly clueless humans. Poor doggie. Once that circus had left town we decided that, since it was now Friday who knew what sort and numbers of people might possibly come streaming into the campground later that day and weekend. We broke down camp and decided to find a suitable spot deeper in the forest using the MVUM.