The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

Aubrae Opp

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

A favorite pastime for many people during the summer is to go camping. It’s a great way to unwind, relax, and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It allows you to unplug from technology and all the noise that seems to clutter up our daily lives and instead, connect with our family and the beautiful world around us. 

A certain contentment overcomes you while staring into a crackling fire that is slowly roasting dinner while you tell stories with loved ones. If you’re anything like my family, you’ll spend the rest of the evening by the fire and lantern light playing Uno and other card games. The day will have been spent swimming or kayaking and maybe some hiking to explore the surrounding woods until you're exhausted but happy.

This is a chance to have fun with your family so make sure to bring activities that everyone can enjoy such as cards and card games. Portable lawn games are great to use during camping such as ladder ball and giant jenga. Bring books to read in your favorite camp chair or by the shore of the lake or stream your camping near. Bring guide books about the area you’ll be staying so you can learn about the geology and local flora and fauna. After it gets really dark, take a little walk not too far from camp but far enough away that lights won’t bother the view and lay out a blanket and look up at the millions of stars you might not see on a regular basis. Test yourself on how many constellations you can find. 

Of course, the best activity of all is making S’mores! 

In my family, I’m known as the perfect S’more maker and I’m willing to share my secret technique with you. The trick to a perfect S’more is the tools that you use. You want a two-pronged extendable grilling fork. Place a marshmallow on each tong (unless you have a jumbo-sized marshmallow.) In between the two marshmallows, carefully wedge in the desired chocolate piece you will be using for your S’mores. Then slowly and carefully rotate the S’mores over the firepit without getting two close to the flame but close enough to see the marshmallow start to puff and brown up. This will start to melt the chocolate that is wedged between the marshmallows. When you’ve reached your desired marshmallow cooking point (whether you prefer it burnt or not) remove the marshmallow from the heat and place between two graham crackers or if you want to get really crazy…two cookies. This technique takes a little time and patience but it is worth it to have gooey marshmallows covered in melted chocolate. 

Another fun camping treat that I’ve heard of but have not tried yet is dipping a strawberry on a roasting stick into marshmallow fluff and roasting that over the fire and then drizzling that with a little Nutella. 

Nothing can ruin a camping trip like being unprepared. For me, a checklist makes it so much easier to not forget important items like the first aid kit or the tarp you may need if it rains. Or as we just found out on this camping trip, the powers of the sewing kit is underrated. Here is a great resource and camping list to follow for your next camping trip: 

Camping Essentials Checklist | REI Expert Advice

Location has everything to do with camping. There are plenty of beautiful areas to camp along the west coast and I know a lot of people who prefer to camp by the ocean. Growing up, my family always went camping at Patrick’s Point north of Trinidad, CA. As a kid, the car ride felt like it took forever and now you have to make reservations for the campground almost a year in advance because of how popular it’s grown. If you want to avoid a long trek to go camping and prefer the woods and mountains, I’ve compiled a small list of some great areas to go camping close to Butte, Tehama, and Shasta counties.

My family and I just went camping at Butte Lake Campground in eastern Lassen National Park. We were able to see Lassen and Cinder Cone. It had plenty of places to hike as well as lakes to go swimming. It was the perfect place for us to go and escape the heat of Chico and get away from technology as there is no service in this campground. 

You will want to double check the requirements on all these campgrounds. Some don’t have hookups and are tent camping only. 

Any campground in Lassen National Park (may need reservations ahead of time)

Butte Lake Campground

Forks of Butte Campground

Lime Saddle Campground (no hookups)

Philbrook Campground

Elam Campground

Lake Alamanor

Black Butte Lake campgrounds near Orland

Shasta Lake campgrounds

Castle Crags campground

Lake Siskiyou campground near Mount Shasta

The most important thing is to have fun! This is a great opportunity to connect with your family and the great outdoors. If nothing else, it will give you gratitude for your home and family.

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