April 7, 2018 · Stanislaus National Forest
Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.
The rain had been pretty consistent and intense the last few days in San Francisco, and it seemed that it was going to peak this weekend. Yosemite shut down all its campsites and cancelled everyone's reservations. The Stanislaus area had a similar forecast, and when I talked to the ranger at the Groveland station, the advice was to “be careful of the rain”.
Despite the high potential of a completely miserable backpacking trip in the rain, Simmy was enthusiastic and convinced me we should go anyways.
Stani, Simmy, and I left the city around 6:30am, after making a quick pit-stop at a Starbucks for breakfast and coffee. The rain ranged from drizzle to downpour as we headed east along the highway towards the Sierras. We got to the empty trailhead by 10am. We had a 10 minute window to get changed in the parking lot before the rain started again. We were hiking by 10:20am, clearly the only ones on the trail.
We were mostly dressed for the occasion: rain pants, gore-tex jackets, all our gear stuffed safely in dry-bags. The one exception was Simmy's shoes, which were probably soaking within the first mile. Against all odds, spirits were high and most likely responsible for pushing the clouds away, and brining us clear skies by the early afternoon.
Blue sky was peaking out behind the clouds. We explored a little bit past the end of the trail at the foot of Preston Falls. The terrain was pretty rough, so we went back to the end of the trail and setup camp in a grassy field. The sun was out in full force before long, and we draped our socks and wet gear over the branches of a dead tree that had fallen over during the last winter.
After a nap, and playing fetch with Stani, we explored closer to the river, and decided to move our camp to a better location. We also spent some time gathering as much dry kindling in hopes of starting a fire later in the evening.
We ate three cheese mac & cheese for dinner, sipped whiskey, slowly built a fire, and enjoyed the stars.
We were up around 7am, and the sun was slowly drying off the dew from the previous night. We took a relaxing approach to getting started. We sipped on warm drinks, had granola, and figured out our next moves.
We waited for our tents to dry off before packing camp up. The best way to pass time at camp is playing fetch with Stani, so that's what we did.
We packed up as soon as things were dry, and headed back down the trail towards the car. It was a completely different experience walking through the area without the low fog and rain. After 2.5 hours and a few rest-breaks, we were back at the car.