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Big Basin Trip 2010

Day 1 of 3

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Friday, May 21st
Drive to Big Basin

Last year, I had tried to plan a group camping trip with my son's Kindergarten class. Unfortunately the plans broke down as families backed out and the weather turned sour. This year, I kept it small (2 other families), and moved it a bit later in May to hopefully get better weather. I figured late May would be a good time; little did I know that we'd have some unseasonably late rain in the Bay Area. Thankfully it would only sprinkle on us briefly.

Months in advance, I started to check the Big Basin reservation system. The dates I wanted finally started to go in April, so we made reservations for 2 sites a little over a month in advance. Memorial Day weekend was long gone, of course, so you'll have to reserve well in advance if you want that.

The somewhat odd thing about Big Basin is that while they have a reservation system, they don't allow you to reserve specific sites. Instead, you have to check in and the rangers will assign you a specific site when you arrive. So, when we arrived at the park at 5pm, we had to head to the rangers at the park headquarters. There, we waited for about 15 minutes, as there was apparently something wrong with their computers. We were finally able to get two sites next to each other, in the Sempervirens campground.

We drove past towering redwoods to our camp site. It was cool and overcast, but still dry as we set up camp. The 13 of us (6 adults and 7 children) set up our 3 tents in the 2 sites (each site sits up to 8 people). After dinner it started to sprinkle. We hastily set up the new rain shelter that we'd just bought and set it up over the picnic table. I have to admit, after years of not having a shelter while camping, it was really nice to have. In case you are wondering, we used the REI Alcove Shelter, which packs relatively small and has optional walls as well.

It rained lightly off and on for a bit, but for the most part the rain stopped right after we set up the shelter (of course). It was still cold, though, so I went off to get some firewood. The headquarters sells firewood, but they close at 4pm. I went to the camp host at Huckleberry Campground, who sells firewood until 9pm. Just be forewarned that the price (at this time) is $10.50 per bundle, quite a bit more than the $6 which seems to be the going rate at other parks.

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