The last of the Sierra ski resorts declared the end of the ski season last weekend, snow that is, not water skiing. Water skiers have been waving at the snow skiers for more than a month, an odd melting of seasons. I suppose some did both in the same day, first the snow, then have lunch and ski on the lake in the afternoon. Camping season is in full swing, even in the high Sierra if you can avoid camping too close to skiers looking for that last run. One campground that provides a true Sierra camping experience is near Twain Heart in the gold country. Run by a private organization, as opposed to a state or national park service, Roaring Camp Mining Company offers top notch gold panning and activities aimed at family fun. The site is a few hours south of the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, an excellent day trip north from Roaring Campground. Last minute campers have a good shot at getting a camp site at Roaring Camp. Watch your children light up when they find a few gold flakes at the bottom of their first gold panning experience, you pay extra for that of course. Check out all their activities on their web site: https://roaringcampgold.com/activities/
Visitors come from far and wide to visit the wine country and camp at the famous KOA campground in faraway Petaluma. Yes Martha, people visit Petaluma and exotic Cotati on their annual summer camping vacation. Who knew?
Kind of like camping in the backyard, you can pretend to be a visitor who is in the wilds out west. That scratching and sniffing sound you hear when the lights are out and you are snuggled in your sleeping bag could be a bear, or a mountain lion, or Ralph your Labradoodle. In any case, camping is fun and kind of scary.
A small group of scuba divers at the famous oceanside campground, MacKerricher State Park, near Fort Bragg, a two-hour drive from home, were up early one foggy morning preparing for an early dive. One diver looked across the rise at neighboring site, two raccoons were working the food cabinet built on the end of the table. While the campers slept, the coons would take turns raiding the cabinet, one would stand on the top and push on the doors with his feet, which would fold out against the hinge about four inches. This was just enough space for the second raccoon, on his back under the cabinet, to reach up and snatch
whatever was within reach. The thieves would jump on whatever treasure came out, say a bag of hot dog buns and tear into it. The upper coon would soon be pushing again while eating a dog bun with his extra paws. They took turns grabbing stuff including things without merit, like paper plates and flatware. Once they had all they could reach, they would gather up an armful and head for their lair to stow their booty. The campers awoke later to find their stuff all over the ground covered in muddy coon tracks. They laughed and said, “Looks like we’re going to town for breakfast.”
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.