On a Monday afternoon we returned to one of our favorite campsites, Lake Hemet. We last visited on the July 4th weekend, and we liked the place a lot in spite the innumerable holiday weekend campers we had to content with. Once we were on the lake you could get away from the hordes and it was a beautiful spot.
Visiting in October, on weekdays, was completely different. The first thing I noticed as we drove up the mountain was the distinct brownness of everything on SR79 and 371. It hasn’t rained in Socal for about 7 months and it shows. Right now it’s as dry as it gets here. We saw remnants of some small fires along the 371.
The second thing that struck me as we climbed upward was the yellowish-greenish-brownish color of the scrub (manzanita, creosote bush, etc.) along the road, in fact as far as the eye could see. It’s an unusual color; there’s no name for it. I guess it’s what fall looks like in a high desert setting.
Upon entering the campground and finding our spot we noticed a lot more permanent-looking “campers” tucked into their sites. RVs and trailers with porches, sheds, woodpiles, makeshift enclosed add-on rooms – these are not rigs you pack up and go in an afternoon. My only explanation for this is that it’s a cheap
retirement option. Pay $20-40K for a used RV, get it here, then pay $400-500 per month for a long-term space rental and you’re good to go. That’s a LOT cheaper living situation than anything else I can think of in Socal, and the setting is beautiful. My first reaction upon seeing all this was…who in the world would live like this? My more considered reaction is…I get it. Simple, cheap, peaceful, safe, and surrounded by beauty.
When we left the Temecula area it was 91 degrees. The temperature at the lake was a much more comfortable 81 at the peak afternoon heat. We walked around the almost silent property and took in the views, some shown here. The lake itself was down about 8 feet from its spring 2019 high – I suspect that this level is more the norm. We’ll see how that affects the fishing tomorrow.
We enjoyed a simple meal of hamburgers grilled over charcoal, heated up baked beans, cole slaw and some apples from a tree just yards away. Camp grub at its finest.
Later that night we learned firsthand that the high desert nighttime is cold. We don’t have a thermometer, but I estimate it got down to 35ish. Cold enough to get your attention in the Socal uniform of T-shirts and shorts.
All told after our first afternoon and night back at Lake Hemet I am very satisfied. It’s a peaceful place. The lack of cell phone service and Wifi is disconcerting at first – we’re so seldom disconnected these days – but even that feels good this morning. Now for the fishing…
Postscript from day 2. Double disappointment. While the half-day fishing on the lake was beautiful, we caught no fish and didn’t see our eagle buddy. That’s fishing. Before we return I’m going to do some research on this lake and lake trout fishing techniques to be better prepared.