Memorial Day, which in not a national shopping day, brings with it solemn reminders of all the men and women in our military who died defending our nation. I do hope you took time to be quiet for a minute in recognition of what Memorial Day is actually about.
It also marks the unofficial opening of the “summer” camping, hiking, boating season, as well as the realization that the school year is just about over, and families are making plans to take advantage of the time off.
A little rain, thunder, some hail and snow in the high country may have slowed down some activities in the campgrounds, but it’s all about wonderful memories, and tromping about in the campground while spring storms are lurking in the skies are part of the memories and tall tales that evolve from such events.
By now, most of the recreation areas in the Crystal Basin and in Tahoe are open. Memorial Day weekend is the opening day, most of the time, for the recreation areas. This year some of them opened a couple of weeks ago.
If you are a boater, the boat ramp at Loon Lake is out of the water, which will be common at many lakes as the season progresses. Even with these wonderful rain storms we’ve enjoyed, the lake levels aren’t rising much.
In the Crystal Basin just about everything is open and ready for you to arrive. A few places aren’t open due to the King Fire, and are scheduled to open later.
Stumpy Meadows, Black Oak, and Big Meadows campgrounds were damaged in the fire, and will open later in the season.
Bear Group Campground, Kirkwood Campground, Padroes Point Campground and Woods Lake are scheduled to open June 12. Wrights Lake, the entire area, is still closed and while there is no posted opening date, generally Wrights opens sometime in June.
All of these places have to be cleaned of winter debris, spruced up, the water turned on, and generally made safe before opening. It takes a lot of people and a lot of time to get to all of the areas, and some just take longer than others.
If you venture up to Tahoe, start at the Taylor Creek Visitors Center, which is open. Pick up maps, advice, and wilderness permits, and plan your day, and your next trip, while you’re here.
As with the Crystal Basin, most of the USFA sites in Tahoe are open. D.L. Bliss State Park opened last week due to the lack of snow. What you’ll find around Tahoe are more open areas, earlier, due to the lack of snow.
Tahoe is also experiencing low water. Call ahead if you expect to launch your boat. Several spots have already announced they won’t be opening this year due to lake levels.
What is important to remember is that it’s still spring, and in the high country that means that it’s likely to be cold at night, and cool to cold in the day, depending on where you are. Anytime you are on a north facing slope, the temperatures will drop a bit.
If you are at a beach or developed picnic or camping area, your warmer gear is probably just a short walk away, in your tent or car.
Out on the trails, you need to have those warm layers with you, either in your pack or on your personal frame. Layers work very well, allowing you to put on or shed jackets, sweaters, gloves, and so on, as needed. Lightweight wool or synthetic layers are best. Leave your cotton clothes at home.
Always include rain gear when you are hiking. Your rain jacket also serves as a pretty good shield against cold winds too. Staying dry is very important when you are out on the trails, especially in the mountains.
Take your time, pack well, and enjoy these wonderful spring days.