On August 7, I took the motor home to
the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Rod and Jennifer Neely, near
Oakhurst. They have a hundred-yard gravel driveway that
slopes down at a fairly good angle, and I wanted to find out if I
could get in and out. We had scouted the area at the
bottom, in front of the garage, and studied the angles, and were
pretty sure I could get in there, and I did so with no problems and
a little help from Rod.
have constructed a short loop trail on their property, and we walked
it a couple of times, usually
accompanied by two to four
cats. We also walked out to the main road
(Road 600), where we picked wild blackberries to use for hurricanes
later. We also had a nice dinner, and just hung around or looked
around the property.
The next morning I headed out for
a short camping
trip, to Chilkoot Campground on the
Road. This road heads
east from the road that runs along the east side of Bass
Lake, and goes many miles, paved for at
least 20 miles or more. About four miles in is the camp, where we
have stayed many times before (in fact, this is where my older
daughter, Teri, her son Johnny
and I camped the very first time I used my first trailer).
Jennifer came up
to the camp around , but Rodís back was bothering him, so he decided to rest. Near
Creek crosses the paved road and runs down the canyon below camp.
There is an old logging road that leads down the creek, and itís
usually a simple matter to cross. Then a short walk brings you to
Willow Creek, which has a nice
Jennifer and I walked down
the old road to the creek, but
the water is higher than usual (due to heavy snow and rain this
winter), and there was no good place to cross, so we headed back up
the hill. We barbecued chicken and had fresh Fresno
corn on the cob, and Jennifer left in mid-afternoon.
I stayed that night and the next, doing a bit
of walking around the area. Right by the camp, but not readily
visible, is a small creek that drops over a six-foot waterfall into
a nice pool. Itís a bit of a scramble to get to the bottom where
you can take a
picture, but I managed and got some good
photos. I also walked up the road to where Chilkoot Creek crosses.
There is a nice small waterfall on the creek a ways above the bridge
I got started home fairly early and was back in
by . The biggest goal of the trip, to see if the motor home could go
down Rod & Jenniferís driveway, was a big success.
12, 2011: There
was no Stargazer Rock campout in 2010 - too many other things going
on, and people busy with other things. However, I am back for 2011,
although it is a solo trip. In the past we've had most of my
immediate family, various friends and other relatives, with up to 15
people one year. Attendance has dwindled, and when they did come, people have been
coming just for one day.
years I did two Stargazer Campouts. After the big one in July or
August, I would come up for a short trip, usually two nights, either
alone or with grandson Mikie. These trips have all been in September
or October, and it can get mighty cool above 7,000 feet in October. One
year I had a fire in the daytime, and huddled next to it, but there
was a cold wind, and it was never comfortable to sit outside.
time, September 12, it is cool but not cold, and the wind is a
strong cool breeze. A few days ago there were scattered
thundershowers predicted for the mountains, and we had some rain in
the valley. There are a lot of big white fluffy clouds, but the
forecast has changed to no rain, so it looks like it will be a nice
The meadows are still green. Many Sierra meadows, especially below
10,000 feet or so, get very dry and the grass often turns brown in
There are a lot of new, deep chuckholes in the road (it's paved, but
fairly rough, and subject to weather damage every year). There were a
lot of places where I had to creep through the pot holes, but most
of the way I could drive 20 to 30 MPH on the narrow, winding road.
Rock Creek, just down the hill from where we camp a few hundred
water! Actually it always has a little water, but many
years it is a tiny trickle, running under rocks with the water
disappearing for a short distance, then reappearing as a trickle or
a seep. This year it's running strong, there is water visible
anywhere you look at the creek, and I could hear the water running
from a hundred yards away.
are other changes - someone has installed four or five picnic tables
and a couple of metal fire rings. The usable area (for camping)
probably covers ten acres or so, divided into two levels; there are
easy passages up and down between the two sections. I usually camp in one of two
big clearings in the lower level, where there have been large, well-established rock
fire rings for a long time. However, for my late summer/early fall
camp, I prefer the west side of the area, which is more open,
providing more sunshine on the motor home and campsite. It also a
little higher and offers a good view of some of the surrounding hills and domes and
the creek canyon. And, I need to walk only about 100 yards to reach the actual
center of Stargazer Rock, instead of a quarter mile from the far
side of the area. At Stargazer Rock itself you get pretty much a 360
degree sky view, with a few tall trees sticking up on the east side.
remote and isolated and quiet here, especially on weekdays. Since I
arrived there have been six vehicles passing by on the road, and
three of them were a group of motorcycles.
left home around 9 a.m. and was pretty well set up by 11:30. I had a
drink and did some reading, then walked down to the creek. When I got
back, I tried to get my satellite to work. It's been close to two
years since I had it put in, and it has worked twice next to my
house, and at the RV service center, and nowhere else. I am on the
verge of writing it off as a bad investment. In some places I think
trees may have been in the way, so I wanted to give it a good test
here where it's completely open.
I gave up on the satellite, I heated some pizza, ate it, and took a
nap. When I got up I went for a bike ride up the main road beside
the camp. And finally, I did something I almost never do when
camping alone - I built a campfire. It was still light, but around
55 degrees. I sat by the fire and read and then enjoyed the view and
the fire, finally letting it burn down shortly before dark.
dark, but with still enough light to walk the 20 feet to the fire
ring. It's almost completely overcast, but the clouds are not dark
and heavy like rain clouds. The sun is still putting some orange
light on to most of the clouds. It's 48 degrees, with absolutely no
I'm in for the night and ready to start the generator and watch some
8:30 the clouds had opened up enough to allow some stargazing, and
there's a big full moon coming up.
13: The low temperature was 38 degrees at 6 a.m. Throughout the
night, the sky became mostly clear and the moon made enough light to
walk around (the surface is very light in color, providing some
Today was a lot like yesterday, mostly clear with big fluffy
clouds and a light breeze. Late in the afternoon dark clouds
appeared on the horizon, and they slowly took over the sky. After an hour or
more of thunder, it finally started raining
about 4:30. It's been a true thunderstorm, with hail and some hard
rain. It slacks off now and then, and there has been no hail for 15
minutes or more, but it seems to come back full strength every time,
as it just did. Fortunately, all the hailstones were tiny, one
eighth inch ice particles.
I got up I did the usual stretching exercises that I do at home and took
a walk, then had a bloody Mary and read for a while. Breakfast was a
mix of blackberries and raspberries, and that was followed by a nap.
I did a lot of walking around the immediate area, set up the tripod
and took some pictures, and did a lot of reading. I also took a good
bike ride, up the road in one direction for a ways, then down the
road in the other direction. Both directions offer some hard uphill
pedaling and some exhilarating downhill coasting.
the bike ride, I mostly sat outside and read, getting up to
stretch now and then. At one point the temperature took a noticeable
drop, so I wasn't surprised when rain arrived 15 minutes later.
at 5:15, the rain has diminished to a light shower, although there's
still thunder to be heard. At 5:30, 50 degrees, medium rain,
p.m.: The storm has settled into a steady medium rain, and the
thunder seems to have died down. There was a period of about an hour
of virtually continuous thunder, but I saw very little lightning,
including the afternoon when it was still clear overhead but thunder
was sounding regularly.
about 7:35; now clearing and moon coming into view, so it was a full
three hours of mostly hard rain.
14: During the night the clouds cleared away, so I went out
around 1 a.m. to check the stars. There were plenty of stars
visible, but they were not as bright as usual due to the recently-full moon.
In the morning it looked so nice I would have stayed another day,
but I had told people I was returning on Wednesday, and I was well
out of cell phone range. I took my time eating breakfast and getting
ready to go, and got underway about 10:30, arriving home between
12:30 and 1. Opening the door of the motor home I was met with an
unwelcome blast of warm air - going from a high of 70 made 90 seem
like the peak of summer.
Estel, September 2011
(Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)