While some people spent their Labor Day weekend in the company of friends surrounded by full grills, cold beer and potato salads, I went without showering for nearly four days. It was a successful weekend, let me tell you.
For the long weekend, my husband and I wanted to get away and we both love camping and hiking. Motivated by a 10K race in Pasadena, we booked a campsite in Angeles National Forest. On Friday, we packed the car and headed north.
Our campsite was a group campsite in Bandido Park. The park is locked off to cars and requires a combination number to get passed the padlock. Five sites are available in the park and because they are designed for big groups, the campsites feel private.
The weekend was spent enjoying the mountain air and taking in the dynamic views the park had to offer. We looked at rock formations and ogled the plant life. We even found pine cones as big as our heads. The weather was cooperative, offering hot days but cool nights.
The park offers no running water but they did have pit-style toilets. We kept ourselves fresh with baby wipes and that really did the trick.
We tried to keep our gear to a minimum and do a lot of our preparations at home before leaving. Unlike a neighboring site that had more than eight coolers for their group of six. We feasted on homemade granola and beef jerky. We chowed down on chili-stuffed potatoes and even made portobello burgers. We ate really, really well. I'm apparently really good at cooking over a fire, but not a grill. I am no good at conventional grilling.
We hiked trails that were near our site but didn't venture too far away. The park is large and would never the same twice.
On our last night, billowing clouds could be seen from our site. A neighboring camper said that those were smoke clouds and through the grapevine we learned that a fire had broke out 40 miles from our site. The fire would take about two days to reach us so we were safe to spend the night.
Tired, achy, sore and covered in dirt, we left Monday morning. As we drove on the twisting, mountain highway, we could see pink-tinged smoke rising from the valley below. The fire had spread, but hadn't closed off roads. It was really neat to experience.
I can't wait to go camping again. I'm learning more and more about what California has to offer and this trip really fed my sense of adventure. What an awesome place to live.