Monday was my birthday. It was a quiet day, as I knew it would be: my girls were at summer camp all morning, my husband and son have been visiting family in Florida, and I spent most of the day at home with my dog, so… no grand celebrations. Instead, I marked the occasion a few days earlier by taking my twins camping.
Top: Towering Pines (photo by Isabella)
Bottom: Ranger & Me (photo by Olivia)
During the day, we went hiking and gathered firewood, swam in the cool, clear mountain lake, and soaked up the sun on the rocky shore.
At night, we roasted marshmallows, played tree-tag with our flashlights, and cuddled together in the big, cozy bed I had set up in our tent.
At around 2:30 a.m. on our second night of camping, I was awakened by a little hand on my shoulder. “Mommy, I have to go potty.” Another little hand, “I do, too.” So we bundled up and stepped out into the cold darkness, following the beams of my girls’ flashlights over the pine needles. A few minutes later, as we headed back to the tent, I stopped and told my girls to turn off their lights. “Look up,” I said. They did, and we three stood there for a long while, holding hands in the quiet, pitch-black night, feeling small and safe in the shadows of the massive pines under a sea of stars. “Wow.” My daughters whispered. “The sky looks like a blanket.” It was my favorite moment of the trip, and one of the best birthday presents I have ever received.
Although we camped for four days and had many adventures, I have very few photos to share with you. This is partly because camping with two 7-year-old girls can be, honestly, a lot of work. It’s also because rather than relying on my camera’s semi- or automatic settings, I’ve lately been re-learning how to shoot manually. While this gives me much more creative control, it also means I am a bit slower and frankly, I don’t always have the patience. But mostly, I didn’t take a lot of photos because I just wanted to be present in each moment of our trip.
So I don’t have many new pictures, but I do have a lot of new memories, which are far more vivid than any photograph could be. It was worth it.
Wolf Creek Campground
Wolf Creek Campground has 42 camp sites for tents or RVs (no hookups). There are also three group sites down the road, also on the lake, for up to 50 people each. Amenities: picnic tables, fire rings with grills, drinking water, vault toilets, bear boxes. Wolf Creek has a great bike trail that goes around the lake; we’ll try that out next time. This trip, we stayed at site #30, where we enjoyed the nearby climbing boulders, mostly-shaded location, and unobstructed lake view. The entire campground offers stunning views of the mountain lake with the Crystal Range in the background.
The campground is located at 4,900′ elevation on the north shore of Union Valley Reservoir, in the Eldorado National Forest, California. From Sacramento, go 23 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50; then 19 miles north on Ice House Road (a.k.a. Forest Road 3); then 2 miles west on Forest Road 12N78 (partially unpaved) to the campground.
Wolf Creek Campground is generally open Memorial Day weekend through late September, subject to snow conditions.
Reservations are accepted four days to six months in advance of your first night’s stay. Call 1-877-444-6777, or reserve on line via the Recreation.gov website. Several “walk-up” sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis (not reservable). We showed up without a reservation on a Monday, and secured our choice of campsites with no problem, but do note that summer weekends are typically booked solid. A nice summary of general information about the campground can be found on the USDA Forest Service website.