As the new year started to creep up on us, my wife and I came up with resolutions as many people do for the 1st of the year. Ours was simple… Get out and explore more. Whether that be within our hometown to places that we have never been, planning overland trips with our close friends, or going to places like Moab to take in the gorgeous sights and beautiful red rocks.
We like to think that we started the new year off exactly how we had planned; a weekend away in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California.
We started our way on Highway 101 north to get to Highway 20 where we split off of the road through Potter Valley, Ca and onto the National Forest. Once we arrived to our first off pavement driving we were amazed at all of the snow and ice at such a low level. As we drove in the 10-mile dirt road, that would dump us into the Lake Pillsbury Basin, we noticed a ford escape having some trouble in 2wd coming up the ice covered hill. We stopped and asked if he needed help, and he was sure glad we did. We hooked up the tow straps and pulled him up the hill a mile or so out of any snow & icy conditions. He thanked us with a handshake and a smile and we went on our way.
As we arrived at the Lake Pillsbury Basin we immediately looked for prime locations to set up for lunch. We had been traveling most of the morning and it was 3 pm by now. We found a beautiful lake view just off the road and we let the dogs run around and began to cook lunch.
After lunch, we explored more of the area. The evening before we arrived it went down to 14 degrees overnight and much of the snow was iced over leaving many parts of the trail to sketchy to adventure on our own with only 1 vehicle. We safely turned around and decided to return to our lunch spot because the view was just too epic not to wake up to the next morning.
Prior to the sun going down, we went out to collect some firewood knowing that the night would be cold and staying warm was key! On our way to collect some wood, we ran into a local to the area. We stopped and chatted with her for a while about the history of the area, the current weather conditions, and the lay of the land. She was full of knowledge! It didn’t hurt that she sent us on our way with a mason jar full of brandy to keep us extra warm!
We returned to camp to set up the tent and get ready for dinner. Once the sun went down we sparked up the fire and stayed warm through the night with the brandy.
The next morning was what every adventurer dreams of… waking up to the sounds of nature in the middle of the forest with an unbelievable view.
We took our time in the morning to enjoy another warm fire, some breakfast, and tired the dogs out before we packed it all in and headed home reminiscing on the memories from the year’s first adventure and already yearning for more!