We just got home from a short camping trip to Barton Flats campground in the San Bernardino National Forest. Barton Flats is one of our favorite “local” campgrounds being just 80 miles from our house.
The campground sits at 6,400 feet so it was much cooler than where we live, which was roasting hot. Campsites are large, so social distancing is easy. Some fellow Airstream friends were right across the road, so we did some safe socializing around their campfire at night, which was a lot of fun. We hiked, relaxed and I got in a little astronomy outreach. Our only concern was the large Apple Fire that was burning not far away. We did keep our eyes open to that just in case it staring moving towards our campground.
Since we’ve been to Barton Flats a number of times and written about those trips, this will be a short post. If you need more detailed information about our camping at Barton Flats and neighboring San Gorgonio campgrounds, it’s not hard to find those posts on our website from the home page.
Right now it’s rather difficult to reserve a campsite anywhere because so many more people are camping these days to get away from coronavirus restrictions. We store our Airstream at a dealer storage lot and when we picked it up there was NO inventory for them to sell, none. We spoke with a person we know that works there and he told us they did have 40 more ordered and that they were already sold even before they got to the dealership. That’s unbelievable. This particular dealership always has a large inventory of Airstreams for people to choose from. He predicted that in a couple of years, if the virus thing has blown over and people start doing other things, there will be a glut of used coaches for sale. That would be a good time to buy if you are in the market. Right now it’s a good time to sell if you need to get rid of an RV, demand is through the roof.
Back to Barton Flats. Our first hike was on the 2.5-mile Rio Monte Trail that is accessed from the campground and ends at the Rio Monte Panorama, which overlooks the deep gorge of the Santa Ana River Valley. This is a very pleasant hike that passes through huge trees, San Gorgonio campground, OSO group campground and a park ranger amphitheater. The view from the panorama is beautiful. While hiking, we stopped to smell the Jeffery Pines which must have looked strange if anyone saw us. Jeffery Pines smell like butterscotch, in case you are wondering. We took our dogs with us on this hike. They are getting older and it showed. Our large male German Shepherd pooped out on the return hike at a neighboring campground. My wife stayed with him while my daughter, our other Shepherd mix dog and I hiked back to our campsite so we could get the truck and go pick them up. Poor guy! The female didn’t do much better, but at least she did make it back to camp. I guess we need to limit the length of their hikes, which they really enjoy, from now on. I’m probably next on the list.
Our next hike was along the 2 plus mile Jenks Lake trail that can be accessed from the campground. Much of this hike is along an old logging road that ends at Jenks Lake. There are lots of big trees and the trail has a fair altitude gain going to the lake. The return hike is much easier. In addition to the beautiful scenery, Jenks Lake offers picnicking, fishing and non-motorized boating that includes canoeing and kayaking. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout and there are also some largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and catfish available. There were a number of people fishing all around the lake. Fishing is also available in the nearby Santa Ana River, but to get there is a long hike. My daughter and wife enjoyed watching a couple of duck families swimming in the lake with their ducklings.One night I set up one of my telescopes to catch a view of Jupiter and Saturn for our friends across the road and us. It was hard finding a good spot to set up because we were surrounded by very large trees. Only a couple of patches of sky between trees were available and the views only lasted for a short while. Despite some atmospheric turbulance, Jupiter and Saturn looked pretty good so everyone was happy. It’s always fun to see the reaction from people who don’t get to look at planets through a telescope very often.This not so little guy landed on my astronomy gear one night. It’s a ten-lined June beetle, also known as a watermelon beetle. These things are found in the western United States and Canada. They are attracted to light and feed on foliage, lucky for me. Supposedly, they make a hissing sound when touched or otherwise disturbed, but I didn’t hear any hissing. I’m from the mid-west and grew up with the typical brown colored June Bugs, so this one is new to me.
We were at Barton Flats for 3 nights and 2 whole days. It was a great getaway for us. This is probably the last camping trip we’ll be taking with our daughter in the Airstream. She’s moving to Washington state in August. We’ll miss her a lot but it’ll give us an excuse to travel through California and Oregon to Washington for a visit a few times a year.
Being stuck at home because of this virus is getting real old, so please everyone, wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands so we can all get past this thing. Stay safe and maybe we’ll see you on the road somewhere.