Packing Dates: September 5-7 (“Labor Week”), 2010
Distance: ~ 5 miles
Trail(s): Offroad
Where’s it at? Crystal Basin Recreation Area (near Kyburz), CA


Dispersed camping is allowed in most National Forests, which this was. Definitely do check with the rules and regulations of whichever one you decide to visit. There are a number of areas that I have tried dispersed camping around the Crystal Basin Recreation Area: Airport Flat area, Gerle Creek area (though not by the reservoir as it’s forbidden!), and now near the West Point campground area. All you need is some water, some toilet paper and the rest of the gear you choose to bring and you’re all set.

On this trip we didn’t bring any gear at all really. Well, we had a couple knives, some rope, some fishing poles and tackle, a flint and some water to start us off with. We built a shelter immediately which occupied several hours. The site we picked was well suited for it. It was more or less a bucket list item of mine to do a night or few in the woods without all the traditional camping gear. In fact, we didn’t bring any food with us and only drank water. We intended to gorge ourselves with fresh lake trout of various makes and models but ended up only catching a single fish, and while it was a keeper it certainly wasn’t a meal for two.

Brr…the shelter was not very warm at all. We did bring pretty warm clothing but it still made for some of the most miserable sleeping I’ve personally ever experienced.

The photos are of the shelter and general area surrounding the site. Also click the link for the video walkthrough of the shelter. It was nicely padded with evergreen bows for the mattress. We used a couple really big logs for the basic framework and then stacked longer and skinny logs along that, topping with bark strips and more evergreen. I don’t believe that any trees were killed in the process. We took lower branches from some of the nearby living evergreens but the whole framework and bark was from downed trees in the area. There was so much wood on the ground that we didn’t have to walk more than 50 feet in any direction to have all the wood used for the shelter as well as the continuously burning fire. BTW, you have to get an annual fire permit to have fires in this park, but it’s free and lasts a full year (not calendar year).

Photos from Camping Union Valley Reservoir (click to enlarge)

Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir
Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir
Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir
Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir
Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir Dispersed camping (and gear) at Union Valley Reservoir

Video from Camping Union Valley Reservoir (click to play)

The Shelter

Directions to Camping Union Valley Reservoir


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