In the summer of 1978, Larry Volmer was leading the boy-scout silver backpack trip.
The hikers were: Larry, Mark Houghton, Stephen Palmer, Nathan and Byron Graves, Lester Larsen, Glen Markam, Steven Markam, Ken Kramer, Dick Web and Jeff Web.
They hiked from the Quaking Aspen Meadow campground into the Golden Trout Wilderness. The team had a service project to complete. With the agreement of the forest ranger, they choose to cut up a log on Gray Meadow. The log had been blocking the trail for a long time and to get it out of there, the ranger even supplied the saw. The boys had to make four cuts to be able to roll the log out of the way. They were not happy about the hard work.
As a reward, they wanted to find some big pools to swim in. The ranger told them to follow Mountaineer Creek, so they did.
It was getting dark and it was time to find a place to settle for the night near the creek.
That is how the discovery of this camp came about.
Mark's rusty barrel bath in 1983. He upgraded to a solar shower by 2005.
You Are Getting Too Clean!
The camp is called “Barlow’s Camp”. It was constructed by the CCC in around 1931. The location is so far off the trail that no one, outside of our group, knows its' whereabout.
The California Conservation Corp (CCC) was formed during the depression, to give men some constructive work to do so they can earn money and send it to their families. They built all the trails in this area.
When the CCC left the site, they left many things behind. The remains of these are: a stove and a fire place made from rocks and mortar, steel chimney for the stove, pots and pans, clothes lines, pick-nick table, wood stacking area, and two 55 gallon barrels. The fire place has collapsed since the discovery of the camp, but everything else is still there and being well used by us, campers.
The year 1931 is stamped into the concrete on the stove top marking the establishment of the campsite.
More than one bear calls this camp home as we see evidence of their presence every time we return. They push things over, pull things apart, knock things around, reorganizing the site in our absence.
Larry and his companions found a grave stone about 100 yards from the kitchen area. They believe that it was made for a dog. They were unable to locate it for the past several years. It was probably buried by the falling trees and branches or by the debris the creek carried.
The original group has changed members somewhat in the past thirty years. Friends come friends go….There is an old board we are carving the years of our trips into. The guys usually hang it on a tree, but the bear takes it off.
The years on the board are the following:
1978, 1983, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2008.
The most recent campers include: Larry, Stephen and Bryan Volmer, Ken Kramer, Wes, Chez, Jonathan and Joel Morgan, Dustin Blyle, Joe Dodge, Chris Common, Durk Dopp, Beatrix and Mark Houghton, Buck, Spitz and Griz with several others that shall remain nameless on account of the statute of limitations.
The pick-nick table was reconstructed a couple of times since Larry found the place. Under the wood plank table top, a very rich Texan’s name is carved in. He was mostly known for aviation and movie production. To avoid exposure to this site and to the camp, I will not identify the man. We think this may have been one of the places where he spent some of the time during his disappearing acts in the 1930’s.
The 55 gallon drums are the perfect, bear proof, sealable, storage units we need. They contain numerous treasures, carried down mostly in Larry's backpack, and left there. To name a few: tent, tarps, cooking ware, solar shower, first aid kit, foldable organizer, broom, duct tape, dominos, almost all the camper necessities except of course food.
There is no shortage of firewood in this forest; however, the woodbin under the stove is kept full to keep some wood dry.
Larry and Wes had seen moving figures in the woods before, and since the shape, size and the color of these figures were undetermined, they identified them as ghosts.
They say, if you sit in the kitchen and looking upstream, you can see them walking back and forth between the distant pine trees.
In the summer of 2004, Mark, Beatrix and Buck spent two days on camp. We have not seen the ghosts, but Buck was restless and spent a lot of time gazing upstream.
Mark’s former dog, Griz, used to sit looking out that direction also.
The Houghtons and Buck spent a couple of days on camp again. We arrived just the night before Larry, Wes and Chez were leaving the site after spending their vacation days.
We played in the creek and found some nice pools. Buck was enjoying the fetch the stick game in the cool water while Mark and I were getting a good sunburn.
Our most recent trip, October 15th through the 18th 2008, included the following campers: Larry Volmer, Wes and Chez Morgan, Mark and Beatrix Houghton, Buck and Spitz.
We met on the evening of the 15th and spent the night near Clicks Creek Trailhead.
We normally hike on the Summit Trail, but we decided to try Clicks Creek Trail this time. The hike was harder than we thought and it took us a full day to go down and another full day to hike back up.
Despite of the large supply in the barrels in the campsite, we carried one of the greatest loads ever.