A Fond Camp Memory
Copyright 2020 by Rachel Friedman
is an uplifting fact for all fellow campers out there: Just because
your method of transportation breaks down doesn’t mean that
your trip is ruined. I can attest to this personally based on a trip
that I went on over ten years ago. When our bus broke down in the
middle of a stream on the way to Zaca Lake, our camp counselors
probably did not anticipate how much fun we would have after we were
finally rescued by a tow truck. Before a forklift driver stopped by
and offered to get us aid, we were told that we would have to walk up
the narrow road in order to make it to our destination. I am not sure
what we would have done with the food and assorted pieces of luggage
if we had actually needed to walk those two miles, but thankfully the
issue was resolved before we had to deal with this problem. Our
initial concerns about the inauspicious beginning of our trip
vanished once we were able to finally enjoy the scenery. All the
same, I hope that they have since built up the road so that vehicles
no longer must drive on river beds in order to reach Zaca Lake.
Lake is an incredibly beautiful spot. It is located in Los Olivos,
California, which is only about two hours away from my house. The
lake itself is part of a campground that includes mountains, a lovely
forest, and two extremely beautiful bodies of water. We were told
that the lake, which is the larger of the two bodies of water,
is considered safe for swimming. I do not know if this is unusual,
but the water of the lake always seemed to be the color of deep green
glass. While we were assured that the color of the lake was not an
issue, yet, I was reluctant to go swimming in it because of its
unusual appearance. So, I went wading while the other girls
for the second, smaller pond, when I was there it was covered in a
picturesque layer of green algae. While we were warned not to swim in
this pond, it is still a great spot to take pictures, if you do not
mind leaving the main road and walking through some of the brush.
Apparently, people become concerned if one tries to swim in
algae-filled water. I personally thought that it looked even more
interesting to explore than the main lake.
an animal lover, I was enthralled by all of the local wildlife at
Zaca Lake. My favorite animals were the deer, which we seldom got to
see on regular outings. Whenever we weren’t swimming in the
lake, we would try to stalk the deer in an attempt to see who would
be able to get the best photographs. I believe that I may have gotten
the best picture when I managed to get within a few feet of the deer
on my last day and take a quick photo. They were so accustomed to
humans that they did not seem to be alarmed and only moved away
camp administrator had managed to rent a couple of nice cabins for us
to stay in for the weekend. They were lovely rustic wooden
structures, but thankfully they and the bathrooms were in good shape.
While I am a big fan of nature, I'm afraid that I object to it
interfering too drastically with my comfort. The cabins even came
with access to our own kitchen, where we could prepare fresh food.
we were unable to go swimming and searching for deer all of the time.
Thankfully, there were many other activities that our camp counselors
had planned to keep all of us eleven-year-old girls amused. We loved
helping cook meals in the kitchen, there were fun sing-alongs, and we
made more of the lanyards and beaded jewelry that are so popular at
camps. This might seem slightly boring, but we were all really
pleased to go on a big camping trip to a place that none of us had
ever gone to before.
were some concerns about the area around Zaca Lake, which were
repeatedly addressed. The camp counsellors would tell us every day
that we had to make sure that we avoided the poison oak that grew
within the area. Whenever they could find poisonous oak, they
would call us to come and look at it, just to make sure that we could
identify the plant. There was also some concern about snakes and
ticks, and some apprehension about bears. We were repeatedly warned
not to wander away from the group and to avoid walking in any
particularly tall grasses. These are potential issues that one may
have to face in any campground or on any hiking trail in California
and should not prevent people from traveling to enjoy this scenic
spot. I personally was somewhat disappointed that we did not get to
see any of the more dangerous animals, albeit from a safe distance.
may surprise some people, but Zaca Lake can be slightly chilly at
night, even during the summer. It is probably best to bring
reasonably warm sleeping bags and light sweaters if you plan on
sleeping there at night, especially if you enjoy taking evening
strolls. I personally was pleased that there was a slight chill in
the air, as I love slightly brisk walks. The ground around the lake
is largely flat and easy to walk on, which is nice because the
lighting at night is less than perfect. I am not sure whether one can
go hiking in the nearby mountains, but I imagine that the views would
be spectacular, even during the nighttime.
understand that there are other scenic locations that have been
granted the status of national parks, but I would still strongly
encourage nature lovers to take the time to visit Zaca Lake
regardless of its humbler reputation.
In these troubling times when our access to travel is greatly
restricted, I believe that it is important for people to be made
aware of the wonderful campsites which are practically in their own
backyards. Even in a heavily populated area like Los Angeles, it is
possible to find little pockets of nature where we can explore and
improve our mental state.
have recently embarked on a career as a freelance writer. I
published a number of articles, most notably in Hack Library School
magazine, Kitchen Witch and Preservation Foundation, Inc. I
Southern California with my family.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story by Rachel
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher