We took a crack at backpacking over the fourth of July weekend. Originally, we had planned to backpack through the Bridge To Nowhere, up further past the bungee jumpers that frequent the bridge. Little did we know, this is a really popular spot for pretty much…everyone. Mostly drunk young people it seemed. So, with the advice from a sweet little lady from the ranger station we headed to Crystal Lake Campground in search of “Little Jimmy” a trail that starts at the campground. We arrived at the campground, and to our surprise there really weren’t a lot of people there. What we did find was a serious lack of water. There were very few working spigots for roughly 80 campsites. And, with the coming holiday, we knew that’d be trouble.
We started out hike to Little Jimmy in good spirits, but were soon beaten about half a mile in by the heat and ridiculously steep incline (that’s the problem with the parks surrounding L.A. – most of them are jagged peaks whose trails just go straight up and straight down). We were unable to find water anywhere along our hike. All the hikers we passed coming down the trail could attest to the fact that there was also no water further up the trail from us – Little Jimmy or otherwise. We were fortunate enough to find a little spring run-off on our way to Deer Flats Group Campground and stopped for lunch to enjoy it. It was just a trickle of water – you suck water through a straw faster.
We ventured on to Deer Flats Group Campground in search of water and nice spot to pitch out tents. What we found was a completely abandoned camping ground for RVs that clearly hadn’t been serviced in 10+ years. It was eerie, and the fact that the doors to tall the bathrooms swung freely and the roads were overgrown wasn’t comforting either. We could still hear the hollers of the people down at Crystal Lake campground, but how had no one found this? We decided that the road closure at the trailhead (I didn’t mention that the road is closed with a barrier and the trailhead begins there) must have, at some point or another, lead up to this abandoned camp. There was no water here, either.
We followed the road from the abandoned Deer Flats camp back down to Crystal Lake. We ventured beyond the open loops to the ones that were closed off to cars and eventually found ourselves a nice little camping spot with water access and away from the crowds. The next morning was the 4th of July and the camp filled up really quickly with people out the enjoy the weekend. We got in and out just in time. We weren’t disturbed and everyone had an all around good time (despite California being drier that popsicle sticks in the middle of the Sahara).