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My Kind of Camping

Jul 02, 2015 01:54PM ● By Elena Hutslar

Backpacking: The Over the Hill Gang

by Tillie Herman


 At 48 years-old, Tillie was the youngest member of a group of seven women in their 50s who started backpacking together in 1973, calling themselves The Over the Hill Gang. They backpacked together every year for the next ten years.

My favorite trips were to Lake Ediza, near Mammoth Mountain wilderness area, and Chain Lakes, near Yosemite. Both are so beautiful. Chain Lakes was at the top of everyone’s list, so we went three times. 

Back then, freeze-dried foods were the thing, and they actually made some pretty good casseroles -- a little salty -- but tasty after hiking all day. My favorite was the meat and noodle casserole (“just add water.”) But the best meal by far was always the day we packed out and hit a salad bar on the way home.

At the end of our first trip, we hiked out and loaded a couple of packs into the trunk of Beulah Curtis’ Mercedes, back at the trail head, when we noticed all this fluid had leaked out onto the ground under the front of the car. We opened the hood and startled a huge marmot that had crawled up into the engine compartment and made a meal out of a couple of hoses. Fortunately, we had driven up in two cars, so the rest of us could get home while Beulah spent a couple more nights in Fish Camp to wait for repairs.

One night, my tent buddy and I couldn’t sleep, so we left the tent open so we could see out. We had left our backpacks leaning up against a tree with all the pockets unzipped in case bears got curious, and several chipmunks entertained us by popping in and out of our backpacks, munching on granola and cracker crumbs left in the pockets. 

My advice to potential backpackers is to go out and try it.  You don’t know what’s really up in the Sierras until you get off the road and go see it.  Pack as little as possible; you just don’t need all those creature comforts.

Family Camp

by Dana Greenroad


Every September our church holds a long weekend of “family camp” at the KOA in Watsonville near Manresa Beach. We have attended for years, and even though our kids are older now, they still try to make it for a day or so. Our family always seemed to have the most people because our four kids brought friends. We would get one of the biggest and best cabins by the woods with its’ own fire pit. Walking to the restroom in the middle of the night can be creepy when the whole camp is asleep and it’s dark; you can practically feel the raccoons staring at you, so you make that trip as quickly as possible. But, really, that just adds to the excitement of it all.

Saturdays are always chock-full of fun. We have a big breakfast made by the men's ministry group - eggs, bacon, bagels, and coffee – yummy! Then we have a fun worship service down by the fire pit followed by a big family game time, and I mean big. The whole church gets involved and it is a blast. In the free afternoons our family usually spends time at Manresa Beach, just a mile away. Saturday dinner is the best meal of the weekend: a catered Italian feast with two different pastas, a huge salad, and baskets of French bread. Dessert is a buffet of homemade treats. And, of course, s'mores are a given all weekend long. Family camp will always be one of our fondest memories together.

Heaven on Wheels

by Sherri Morrison


We have owned our fifth wheel since 2009. My husband has fond memories of camping with his family as a child, so it’s something he’s wanted for a long time. Me? Well, I knew if I was going to do this camping thing, it was not going to be in a tent. Been there, done that! Previously, I wasn’t aware that my husband wanted a "Westin on Wheels" or "Sherri's 5-Star," as he jokingly calls it.  

Our fifth wheel is 36-feet long with three slide outs, and it is equipped with a washer/dryer, fireplace, and two flat-screen TVs. I have to admit, we have really enjoyed it. Our fifteen-year-old son, Bradley, loves it too.  We love going to Truckee and camping at Coachland RV Park and to Felton (near Santa Cruz) at Smithwoods RV Park, both with full hookups! We have taken it to Burney Falls and Patrick's Point, state parks with no hookups, but, fortunately, we purchased a generator, so we can go without hookups for about a week.

We have fond memories of camping with our neighbors, the Lobao family, as well as the Olson family. Our favorite meal is anything on the BBQ, especially a nice rib eye. My rum cake is always on the list for dessert and, of course, s'mores by the fire pit.