As mentioned in the last post, after our hike up Garnet Peak we were ready to settle into an easy campsite so we headed out to Cibbets Flat Campground. We had to head all the way back down to I-8, where we headed east to Kitchen Creek Rd. and proceeded north to the entrance to the campground.
We had read about it on several sites, most people saying that even though it was first come first serve they generally had no problem getting a site. Many people even stated that the campground was mostly empty during their visits, some of which were just a week before ours.
We were not so lucky. When we pulled in the parking lot was packed, with cars still circling in an attempt to find an empty campsite. We managed to snag the last one, which was right next to the road and the entrance/exit. Not ideal, but it was also right next to the creek and we were happy to be able to listen to it all evening. Unfortunately, part of the reason that the place was so full was because there was an enormous group on the other side of the creek having what sounded like a frat party, which then seemed to turn into a rave when the sun went down. Some of them had arrived the day before and reserved several campsites right next to each other, which we knew because everything they said was at quite a high volume, and people were still arriving late into the evening on Saturday. Some of them also decided it was cool to park in the spots designated for other sites, including ours, so we ended up having to park outside and carry heavy gear to our site since there was no parking left within the grounds. Overall not the most courteous group of folks to share the campground with. They were extremely loud and disruptive, which sucks when you’re trying to escape the sounds of the city, but when you’re at a campground you can’t really expect silence so we just had to accept it.
You cannot control the people or places around you, everybody was there for their own version of a good time which just happened to differ from ours. We were hoping for a quiet escape for the night but we clearly just picked the wrong weekend! That’s life, and you can let it ruin your own time or just make the most of it. I was concerned that it would get to be too much, but after a while it became background noise, just like the creek, and it really wasn’t too bad.
So we got settled in and paid the $14 fee for our overnight stay. Our site was right across the road from the info station, which has a cash box for your moolah. We set up our tent and wash station, and then settled in to relax and read for a bit before having to get started on our fire.
We also took time to climb down the little hill from our site to the creek
The creek is beautiful, but remember that where there is water there are going to be plenty of mosquitoes. Even though our site wasn’t necessarily on the water, it was packed with the little jerks. The fire helped to keep a lot of them away, but you’re still going to want to apply a lot of repellent.
I started getting out some of our equipment to make dinner, while Jeremy practiced a few new methods for building/starting fire that he had been studying.
He finally got it going while I rested my weary legs and warmed my toesies.
And here we both sat for some time, just basking in the warmth of the fire and enjoying the surrounding darkness. It has been so long since either of us has spent a night outside of the city, and I am not going to pretend that darkness doesn’t make me a little uneasy. You would think that growing up in the mountains I would have grown accustomed to it, but as a child I was always uncomfortable with the dark. As I grew up and moved into a big city like LA, I never really had to worry about it too much. That doesn’t mean I ever grew out of it, and I am definitely going to have to start getting acclimated all over again!
Other than our fire, we used two Luci lights as our means of illuminating our campsite. It may seem strange given the type of product, but I am slightly obsessed with these lights. They are solar powered, and inflatable which makes them amazing for camping or backpacking. They are super compact when not in use, which makes them ideal for saving space in your pack, and then you can blow them up for a full sized lantern. The material is super lightweight, which again makes them perfect for backpacking, and is even waterproof. We’ve charged them by setting them outside of our apartment, putting them in the back window of the car, and hooking them onto the back of our packs while we’re hiking. I would love to get more for when we’re not at a campground, but on this night we were able to freely move about with just the two. We hung one above our table, and one on the other side above our wash bin.
We picked ours up at REI, but they have a discount for your first order on their website and they have several different sizes and styles. I fully intend to add some pretty colors in the near future!
We decided to use our camp stove for dinner, rather than cooking over the fire, and our Luci and headlamp were enough to do this with ease.
After dinner we decided to walk out of the campground to look at the stars. With no light around us except what was emanating from the campground, we stood there for some time just admiring the beauty. Though it can sometimes be intimidating, it is also strangely comforting knowing how small you are in comparison to the universe. It is almost like the security you feel as a baby, being cradled in the arms of someone much larger than yourself. Though I can still see stars at night when I am at home, it has been far too long since I have been able to gaze upon them and not have to strain to see through the competing light of the city. I even got cheesy and brought out a constellation app on my phone, and we had fun being able to identify them up in the sky. We saw a few shootings stars as well, which will always be a treat no matter how old I get.
We decided it was time to retire for the night, so we changed into our pj’s and settled into our tent. The rave behind us had begun to settle down, so we could hear the creek running as we dozed off. We had a pretty peaceful night, except for when we were abruptly awoken by a bird who somehow got under our fly and became temporarily trapped, frantically flapping until it got out. This was the test run for a lot of our new equipment, particularly our sleep system, so we got a chance to figure out what works and what didn’t. I woke up as the sun was rising, and got a chance to see it coming up over the hills.
I waited for Jeremy to finally wake up and we enjoyed our breakfast in the brisk morning air. As soon as the sun started making its way into the campground, the heat began to steadily rise. We had contemplated trying out another short hike this morning, however we quickly changed our minds when we felt the rising temperature. We did check out a small section of the trail behind the campground, but decided it was time to just head home and take it easy before beginning our work week the next day.
So here ended our first camping trip! It got off to a rocky start, I was admittedly pretty grouchy at first between the noise and the people who snaked our parking. I was tired from our hike and the exposure to the sun, and had wanted to get settled in as quickly as possible. Yes, it did not go exactly as I wanted, and yes I let that irritate me momentarily. I had to take a step back and remind myself that it isn’t all about me, and that these were simply minor inconveniences. I have a habit of letting small things blow up and ruin my time, and then feeling sorry for myself when it goes south. This has been a tough habit to break, but I am working on it and this was definitely an exercise in restraint for me. I did it though, I calmed myself down and we were able to have a great night.
As for the campground itself, it was so packed that we didn’t get to explore any of the other sites. There are vault toilets set up in the back of the ground, at the end of the main driveway/road, so I was able to get a look at a few of them on the way back there. Word to the wise… maybe avoid the toilets when the campground is busy like it was while we were there. The smell alone is enough to drive you mad, but the amount of litter (used and unused) on the floors was outrageous. It isn’t that hard to get it in the toilet, people! The sites themselves were fairly spread out, allowing for plenty of space and a good bit of privacy. They are each set up with a picnic table, fire ring, and running water. They are large enough to fit a few tents in each space, so bring some friends! The grounds are beautiful, the trees and creek make for a pretty picturesque setting. As mentioned there were a few minor turn offs, but this comes with the territory when you’re sharing space with other people. Overall I would recommend this campground, and we plan to head back ourselves sometime in the future (perhaps in the fall, this time). It is a great place to go whether you’re by yourself, with another person, or in a group.