Exploring Butt Valley Reservoir

By Mara Dobyns

We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful and bountiful area that sometimes it can be hard to choose which lake or hiking spot to explore next. Often we can have our fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping desires all filled in the same spot making it relatively easy to make theACwhole family happy. But with so many awesome options the question still lies unanswered. Where do you go?

man reading mapHere’s a fun way to pick. Pull out a map of the area, close your eyes, and point. Or if you’re like us, your friends will invite you to camp with them and have the campground picked out leaving you to simply pack up and enjoy.

Between the endorphins from hiking, breathing in the fresh, intoxicating, mountain air, the refreshing lake water, the smokey smell of the campfire and sleeping under the stars, camping really makes me high on life. Something about being out in nature makes me feel at peace and appreciative all that life has to offer.

On my family’s most recent camping trip we ended up just on the other side of Lake Almanor at beautiful Butt Valley Reservoir in Plumas County. The lake is about five miles long and well known as a great fishery for trout.

Upon arrival my husband and I decided to venture outside the campsite. We drove around the lakeside and ended up free style hiking up the mountain for a better view of the lake.

Although the hike turned out to be more of a full body climb the views were well worth it. Feeling on top of the world, we snapped a few pictures at the top before starting our hike down.

My favorite quote from the hike comes from my toddler Vivian. When daddy asked if she wanted to hike up the mountain her response was perfect. “No, I want you to carry me up the mountain.” We both laughed out loud.man carrying child

Next we returned to the campground to set up our home away from home for the night.  Our spot was just close enough to the water with a convenient pathway through some greens leading directly to the beach.

There’s not too much I love more than falling asleep to the sound of the water lapping in and around the sandy shore. I fell asleep snuggled up to my baby girl who was loving every minute of the outdoor life and stayed up way too late by the campfire enjoying it.

We awoke to the sound of birds greeting the morning light. One bird in particular swooped right over our tent waking Vivian with the exciting sound of its wings. Almost simultaneously with the swooping noise of its wings her eyes popped wide open and her lips curled into a beautiful good morning smile as she let out a soft giggle before closing her eyes to sleep again. I will treasure that moment of nature and family forever.

We spent the rest of the day with good company, soaking up the sunshine, going in and out of the water, and enjoying gorgeous views. I can’t wait for our next outdoor adventure.

5 Easy Tips to Camp like a Champ
1. Remember to talk to your kids about what to do in case of bears or other wild animals.
2. Pre-cook special dinners so when it’s dinner time all you have to do is reheat and enjoy.
3. Plan extra fun activities for the kids like tie dying, jewelry making, or an Easter Egg or color hunt in the woods. (For the color hunt bring sand buckets and see who can collect as many colors from the woods as quickly as possible.)
4. Pick a theme. Consider picking a theme that everyone you’re camping with has to follow. Make a game out of it by setting a system in place to fine or reprimand people if they don’t follow the themes rules. Have them cook smores for the entire camp or maybe do something silly in front of the group like sing a song or hop on one leg while patting their head and rubbing their belly. Thanks for the idea, Liz!
5. Story time. Gather around the campfire and form a story together by  having each person in the circle add one word at a time to the story. This is a fun and easy way to include everyone and is guaranteed to make you laugh. Have a great time camping!

Camping Check List: Tent Tarp Mat for tent entrance • Sleeping bags Pillows/blankets Air mattress if needed • Air mattress repair kit • Air pump •  Utility bags for storage and garbage • Lots of water • Matches/lighter • Cooking supplies • Coffee pot • Barbecue skewers • Tin foil • Hand sanitizer • Clothes for all occasions • Lake shoes • Hiking shoes • Towels • Toilet paper • Sun screen • Bug spray • Flashlights/lanterns/ head lamps • Whistle • Extra batteries • First aid kit • Axe • Rake • Pocket knife • Small shovel • Maps • Bungi cords/straps • Fishing gear/license • Camping chairs • Hammock • Camera • Sunglasses • Water floaties • Squirt guns • Life jackets • Kayaks/boat • Paddles/boat • fuel •Walkie talkies  • Bikes and helmets • Radio • Reading material • Board games/Playing Cards • Coloring books/crayons  Always remember to pick up trash when you leave, leaving the campsite better than you found it.