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Holiday Haven

Holiday Haven Posted on 10/10/2015


***This post is long overdue. I have been wanting to post more frequently, especially about this trip, but life happened. A month, and a move back into my mom’s house later, here it is:***

Everybody loves a three day weekend. Labor Day is a holiday many people use to go outdoors. Beaches and campsites are known to be overcrowded during this infamous time. Ruby and I wanted to get out of town, but did not want to be in a crowded area. I hit the internet looking for camping that was free and secluded. It was important for us to get outside, but the odds were stacking against us quickly. Ruby had to work Friday night, I was preparing to move back home (where I now reside on the living room floor, I was starting my six week hiatus from rock climbing due to climber’s elbow, and of course it was Labor Day weekend. As I stumbled around the internet looking for camping I came across a location called Santa Rosa Mountain (SRM). It is  located right in our backyard, south of Idyllwild, the camping is free, and it took some off-roading to get there.

Then there we were looking at a shitty topo map I printed off the internet. It was 9:30 at night on a pitch dark dirt road. My adrenaline was pumping as we crawled seven miles up the road toward camp sites we hoped weren’t full. It took about 40 minutes to go only a few miles. The road had some steep turns and rocks to dodge, but we inched our way to camp sites. After passing an open site, and seeing occupied sites further up, we decided to unpack and settle in the first spot. We set up our nest in the metal tent (my blazer) and drank a few beers under the  star riddled sky.

The next day we decided to eat some breakfast and go on a hike. We walked across the road and went up the hillside to catch a view off the mountain. Then we decided to head up the road to see if any camp sites were open. I read there was the remnants of an old cabin at the very top of the mountain. On the way up the road there were some nice views of the valley below that made the walk a lot less monotonous. There were also interesting fire warnings painted on trees and rocks by the man who once owned the cabin up top.

We reached the top and saw many open sites that were prime real estate. I didn’t want to risk a flat, or have the oil pan get ripped out of from the blazer. I didn’t feel comfortable about the clearance of the blazer when looking at the jagged rocks I would be wheeling over. The top of the mountain was beautiful. We saw the remains of the cabin. All that was left was a fireplace.  We met  two families there. We saw them on the road in two huge off-road trucks. After having a chat with them, and soaking up the views, we went back down to make a camp switch. The new camp was far better than the first. We were right by a water supply, we had two tables and a lot of room. One table was up top by the parking area, another was down a path looking straight into the forest.

View into the forest from our picnic table

Ruby and I relaxed around our new found Holiday Haven. We enjoyed chatting on the picnic table. It was a very relaxing afternoon. We cooked food and laid around until the sun started going down. Our plan was to walk up the road to a clearing to see the sunset. That sunset was one of the best I have seen. The pictures do little justice to the beauty we saw.


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The next day we woke up early, packed our camp, and hit the dirt road. We decided to go up to Idyllwild for some lunch. That’s never a bad idea. This spur of the moment trip was short, but also very exciting. SRM is truly a gem to get away from civilization. It was nice to see only a handful of people around even on a holiday weekend. I almost don’t want to let the cat out of the bag on this place! But it’s too good not to share.

– James