It's summer camping time

Summer is definitely here and not just a little bit, but a whole bunch. We're half-way through this hot season now and finally we're heading downhill toward the cooler days of fall. Heck, we've hardly even used our new tent yet. We wouldn't have purchased a new one if it wasn't for the record-breaking winds that bent all the support rods in our little dome tent. Last summer we went to a motorcycle rally in Washington and we camped out right on the Columbia River Gorge for a whole week. We got hit by 50 mph winds every day. It was an adventure, I must say.

Anyway, when we got home we tossed out the little, old, broken-down tent and bought a new, top-of-the-line three-season one. We figured if it could stay up in some of Fish Springs' big winds, it would be fine for us, especially if we camped in a forested area instead of the wide, open space along the Columbia Gorge.

For our first camping trip this summer, we rode our Honda Goldwing motorcycle and towed a little trailer behind to carry the new tent, sleeping bags, air mattress and cook stove. We didn't go very far, just 16 miles northwest of Susanville to a fisherman's paradise - Eagle Lake. This is the second largest natural lake in California and it has 100 miles of shoreline. It's famous for a unique subspecies of beautiful rainbow trout. The last time we were there my husband caught a couple of 3-pounders for our dinner. This time we ate chicken.

We checked out three campgrounds before we found the best one for us. We liked Aspen Grove because it was all tents - no trailers allowed. No reservations either, it was first come, first served. We chose a walk-in campsite that was spacious and secluded and we used a wheelbarrow to haul our supplies in. It was a short walk to a clean bathroom with running water and flush toilets and a little farther to a great, sandy beach. Eagle Lake water was clear and clean and just the right temperature for swimming. I loved it.

There's a neat 5 mile-long paved trail that's great for walking, jogging or bicycling. It runs along the south end of the lake to Aspen Campground. The elevation is 5,100 feet, about the same as Fish Springs, and the night-time temperature was nice and cool - great for sleeping. It was pretty hot during the day but there was lots of shade from all the tall pine trees. We had no problems with mosquitoes. The fee to camp at Aspen Grove campground was $18, or $9 if you have a Golden Age Passport. Other nearby U.S. Forest Service campgrounds allow tents and trailers and one of them, Merrill Campground, even has full hookups.

For more information regarding the various campgrounds around Eagle Lake, call (530) 825-3443. And for reservations, call Reserve USA (877) 444-6777. Do it soon, there's only six weeks left of summer.

n Linda Monohan can be reached at 782-5802.


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