Heaven It Ain’t: Sleep Somewhere But NOT Here, Tree of Heaven Campground CA
Tree of Heaven Campground? Ahhh…Memories, Memories…
I-5 sure isn’t the way it used to be. No more mellow, mosey, laid-back and copacetic. These days, it’s a white knuckle experience, even in the shadow of woo-friendly Shasta.
For today, you’ve been at this too long already. You’ve not only trashed your driver’s digits, but whines emanate from the passenger seat ‘cos the derrière of your beloved companion, dog, human, or imaginary friend are firmly embossed with car upholstery dents and ridges.
Your whole being—not to mention said whiny riffraff—directs you loudly and firmly to call it a day near Yreka CA and pull in to the near-to-I-5 USFS budget-compatible overnight spot, seductively named the Tree of Heaven Campground.
Tree of Heaven is located in the Klamath River canyon, on Route 96, just north of Yreka… The road curves and swerves along the walls of the canyon, with a steep drop to the river below. Don’t even consider this little drive at night, since with no guardrails you’ll approximate a death wish via deep six.
The Klamath water gushes profusely, through narrows, around bends, in riffs and eddies, even in a drought. Hardy vegetation clings to the walls of the canyon. Birds circle overhead, benign and predatory. There are few dwellings: nowhere really to put a house. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Klamath is designated a National Wild and Scenic River.
So far so good. You see the sign for the campground and head down into the canyon on a steep and narrow grade with sharp turns. Remember as you work your way down that you have to be able to get back out of there too: this should not be a problem except for plush motorhomes, overburdened trailers, and autos with spluttery motors and transmission issues. All this is a minor detail.
The Tree of Heaven campground is well-located
Tree of Heaven sits right on the banks of the river. Large trees of many varieties shade the sites: there are some very impressive specimens, including the eponymous tree. A nature trail with informative signs follows the river for perhaps 1/2 a mile. The birds are chirping and fussing as they settle in towards evening. An idyllic site.
What could be better?
You’re just sitting down to your low-budget campground dinner, enjoying the light breeze off the river, the sounds of bugs, birds, frogs, letting it all sink in and nourish your drive-fatigued limbs…..
An aroma drifts through the Tree of Heaven campground……You stay put: winds have a way of shifting. They shift. Gosh, isn’t the same aroma coming from the other direction? Yes, indeedy.
You realize all too late that that some USFS official was an aggressive pit-toilet-requisition-signer. The campground is well-endowed in this regard. Maybe in the ’80’s before composting toilets? Stupid question.
To capitalize on this extraordinary feature—and perhaps cognizant of the result—ReserveAmerica even advertises the Tree of Heaven campground with a photo of the toilets. Seriously.
Whatever: you are surrounded
As night falls, toilet backwash envelops the campground. It seeps into every nook and cranny. Even the riffles in the imposing trees can’t flush it out. Everyone and everything, odor and opinionated 62 plusser, are held captive by the steep walls and tight curves of a spectacular river canyon.
And that’s not the end of it. What else could a canyon possible trap in a slumbering campground? Well, snoring for one. Plenty enough to keep everyone awake and grumpy. And the, ummm, bellowing offspring of bad eating habits. That doesn’t work for Muddy Boots, either.
But…..How can Muddy Boots put this delicately? [Let it be acknowledged, alas, that for Muddy Boots tact and discretion are a work in progress and not a lifetime accomplishment.] This is a daunting challenge.
Ahhh, heavens to Betsy, the Old Masters will assist.
The Tree of Heaven Campground is ranked somewhere in the category of Tree of Lust and Lovemaking, a veritable Adam and Eve, Garden of Earthly Delights, paradisical sort of place without the requisite artistic finesse or traditional cavorting. Yes indeedy, the sounds of romance amplified a thousand times bounce off the canyon walls at midnight, 1 am, 2 am 3 am 4 am 5 am.
Ahhh, shades of idyll, busy birds, lusty vegetation, exotic creatures of the deep and river bank, but not a whole lot of sleep happening at Tree of Heaven….
Tree of Heaven campground photo credits. Featured image, Klamath River canyon: CC BY 2.0 by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region, via Flickr. Top panel, left to right…Share the road on I-5: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Richard Masoner via Flickr. Lumber truck on Shasta Mountain: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Harold Hollingsworth via Flickr. Mount Shasta and I-5: CC BY 2.0 by Iwona Kellie via Flickr. Middle panel.… Klamath River from the river bank: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Bishma via Flickr. Ducks on a rock: CC BY 2.0 by Linda Tanner via Flickr. Campground panel…. Tenting at Tree of Heaven: CC0 Public Domain, USFS, USDA. View of empty campground: ReserveAmerica. Toilet panel.…. Tree of Heaven toilets: ReserveAmerica. Tree of Heaven: CC BY 2.0 by Derek Markham via Flickr. Old Masters panel… Peter Paul Rubens: CC0 Public Domain via Wikimedia. Hieronymous Bosch: CC0 Public Domain via Wikipedia. Louis Cranach the Elder: CC0 Public Domain via Wikimedia. Hieronymous Bosch: CC0 Public Domain via Wikimedia. No outlet sign: CC BY 2.0 by Alan Levine via Flickr.