Photo: Gregory McDonald

A few weeks ago my friend Greg and I headed up to the Mendocino National Forest for a quick mid-week camping trip. Our plan was to drive south on Forest Road M1 from near Covelo, CA to Lake Pillsbury. When we got to the ranger station in Covelo, however, they informed us that the M1 was still closed due to snow. Doh. I guess that’s why it’s good to phone first.

After asking about our options at the Eel River Work Station (the smaller ranger station East of Covelo), we headed northeast up the M1 instead to a defunct camping area called Boardman Ridge. The area is accessed via an unnamed jeep road off the M1 roughly five miles from the aforementioned ranger station. We followed the rutted jeep road about 3 miles to the end of the line (Difficulty 2 out of 10) and then backtracked to spot opposite a meadow and pitched camp for the night.

The Eel River Work Station

Photo: Gregory McDonald

Pausing before heading up the jeep road

The unnamed jeep road to the site of the former Boardman Camp

Photos: Nik Schulz

On the trail

Photo: Gregory McDonald

We set up a tarp to shelter our site from the wind and forecasted rain, which arrived as predicted. We had wind coming in from both directions so Greg set up a little wind break in front of the fire as well. Being warm and dry under something as simple as a self-rigged tarp, while everything around you is cold and wet, is a pretty good feeling.

Greg strings the line for the tarp.

Our lean-to shelter

The shelter from the other side

The meadow across from our campsite

A valuable fire-making tool

Photos: Nik Schulz

One of the things I like to keep in the camp box is a cheap plastic cutting board. Using it to fan the flames makes an effective fire-starting tool.

One note on the fire. It was a little smokey even with the lean-to’s open sides. Next time we’ll put the fire completely outside the tarp and use some stacked logs to bounce heat back under the tarp.

Our camp’s axe collection

Photo: Nik Schulz

We both slept in our trucks that night to save the trouble of each of us setting up our tents. Both of our trucks have raised platforms in the back which, in conjunction with the folded back seat, make nice sleeping areas.

In the morning a quick cup of pine needle tea, and we were off.

Greg makes a cup of pine needle tea.

Photo: Nik Schulz

Coming back down the trail on the way back to civilization

Photo: Gregory McDonald