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Lakes Basin Trip

Day 2 of 3

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Saturday, September 23rd
Lakes Basin Loop

The next day, we checked out, had breakfast at the same McDonald's that's packed during the ski season. After shopping at Raley's for our food for the next few days, we were off, going up Highway 49 toward Downieville. The first few miles are filled with stop lights, but then it's clear sailing. Unfortunately the road is so winding that it takes a long time to cover the 90 miles from Auburn to Bassetts. In fact, it took us over 2 hours before we hung a left onto Gold Lake Highway and then left into the Salmon Creek campground a couple miles later.

We were winging it. A half hour before we arrived, I whipped out the California Camping book and picked out a promising campground. Salmon Creek turned out to be a great campground, even if the creek was completely dried up at this time of year. The camp sites are spread far apart, and many of them were empty. We chose the one at the very end, and had just one neighbor.

We had tons of space, with ample room for 3 or 4 tents. A grill and fire pit sat near the picnic table, but there wasn't much in the way of downed wood, so we couldn't build a fire. It would have been nice, as it would get quite cold at night.

We set up camp, paid the $12 camping fee, and rested a bit before hiking the nearby Lakes Basin Loop.

On the drive back to our camp site, we had a great view of the Sierra Buttes, the clearly visible jagged mountain range to the west, which would be our destination the next day.

Back at camp, we cleaned up and cooked dinner. Steak just tastes better when you're camping. We made sure to dump our garbage in the dumpster out front and put all our food in the car. Bears and other animals can always be a problem in the Sierras. In fact, during the middle of the night we could hear what sounded like some animals having a track meet outside our tent. It was hard to tell what kind of animals they were, or even how big, but it definitely wasn't some grazing deer. Later, when we went outside and shined the flashlight around, we saw nothing but the trees.

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