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Old 08-30-2012, 07:29 PM   #1
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Jackass Meadow & Florence Lake

Yes, we took R2 down Kaiser Pass Road! For those of you who are familiar with it, it wasn't the worst thing in the world, but not the best either. And for those of you who are unfamilar, it's in the western Sierra Nevada mountains in California. It's 20 miles of twisty, steep, rocky, one lane road with sheer cliff drop-offs and no guard rails. Not for the faint of heart, or for the big rigs. I'd say a properly set-up rig (BRAKES BRAKES BRAKES!) with up to a 19 foot trailer would be fine. Anything bigger, don't try it. Well, we did it and survived. The worst thing that happened in the trailer was that the slider cabinet doors opened and ALL of our clothes fell out. Not so bad! Anyway, it was AWESOME up there. What a beautiful part of the world. I'll attach a few pictures. The campground is called Jackass Meadow, and it's perfectly level, nicely paved and maintained, and since it's so hard to get to, it's not crowded. The campground is just below Florence Lake, which is kind of unsettling when you look up at the big dam. There's a sign at the campground entrance that says to immediately go to higher ground if you hear the siren. We didn't hear it, thankfully. We did hear a lot of peace and quiet, though. We stayed 5 nights and loved every minute. We hiked a lot, boated a little, drank a bit (watermelon daiquiris made with our new hand-crank blender... check it out Hand-Crank Travel Blender : TreeHugger), laughed, read books, played music, visited with brother and his family (sister-in-law hates me now for making them go down that road!), and just thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Anyone else get down that hellish road and live to tell??

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Old 08-30-2012, 07:34 PM   #2
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What a great trip. I've always wanted to head up that way. I've heard the stories about Kaiser Pass... looks like they are mostly true. If we go, I think we'll leave the Airstream at home. Thanks for the wonderful pictures, too!
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Old 08-30-2012, 07:40 PM   #3
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a few more pictures from Jackass Meadow & Florence Lake

Heaven.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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We made the same trip in August 1998, prior to acquiring our Airstream. There were two vehicles in our caravan - our '96 Suburban and a camper on a Ford F150. Our Suburban went first down the road - we had walkie/talkies to communicate to the camper to warn them when there was approaching traffic.

This road is not for the faint of heart - but well worth it. The vistas were incredible. Jackass Meadows is a lovely campground - I'd go there again in a heartbeat - though, our kids will not. They found the looming dam and sirens very unnerving. The rolling thunderstorms added to their anxiety - sounded too much like the dam breaking. (It's a VERY OLD dam.) We were taking our canoe out of the lake when lightning struck the surface just a couple of hundred yards away. Loudest thing I ever heard in my life. It was AWESOME!

I don't know that I would take a trailer along that road - but Sprinter or Westfalia would be just perfect.

Virginia

A few pics from our trip:
Boardwalk at JackAss Meadows, Florence Lake, CA
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:16 PM   #5
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Wow! This is now on my list. But I think we'll take the Jeep + tent and leave the 30'er at home.
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:26 PM   #6
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Nice trip & pics, you two...looks like the top of the world.

You didn't tell me about the siren stuff, though! Yikes!

It's good you had that blender with you... Ply everyone with enough cocktails and they'd just say, "What siren??"
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:33 AM   #7
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Hi guys,

We have made the drive up to Florence Lake for day trips a couple of times while camping and racing sailboats at Huntington Lake (pre-AS days). The Kaiser Wilderness area has lots of interesting sights and some great boondocking opportunities, but agree that this road isn't suitable for a large rig or the faint-of-hart while towing. It is beautiful up there and we'll worth the drive. Looks like you two are having some great adventures and look forward to seeing you on the road again. Becky and I were just talking about our first meeting with you guys at Chrystal Cove Moro in Laguna Beach, so it is great to see your post.

Happy camping,
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:44 AM   #8
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Hey Scott! Great to see your post too! We haven't had as many adventures this year as I would like due to work keeping us close to home. But Kaiser Pass Road certainly fulfilled my yearning for adventure for a while! I hope you guys have been having plenty of your own excursions, expeditions, and exploits!
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:56 AM   #9
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Terry, here's a pic of the siren sign, and a couple of the dam. Notice that one pic shows water spraying out... a leak maybe?! Yes indeed, plenty of cocktails keep the mind off of leaking old dams!!

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Old 09-01-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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Whoa! That spraying leak is kinda freaky. I suppose you could use it as a shower.

Another beverage, please!

Is one of the campground loops above the dam? Or are they both below it. Perhaps it's a good thing that I could probably never even DRAG Greg over Kaiser Pass to get there.
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Old 09-03-2012, 12:10 PM   #11
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Both loops are below the dam. The good news is that there's a huge granite dome right next to the loop we were in, so you could very easily scramble up and escape the deluge! We spent several evenings laying on the granite, looking up at the stars, the Milky Way, shooting stars, and satellites. Heaven.

Something interesting about the water up there... The lakes are all man made and they're all connected by a series of tubes and tunnels. They refer to that water as the hardest working water in the world because it's used several times to make electricity as it goes thru all the dams and powerhouses. It's also used for recreation and eventually for irrigation down in the central valley.

Are you bored yet? Here's some history, if you're still interested in this most boring post ever!

The Big Creek Hydroelectric Project - California Engineering

I love this stuff. There's a great museum up there too, by Shaver Lake.

Happy Holiday, everyone! Be safe out there.

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