Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I went camping. It never crossed my mind that beyond the urban landscape I intently devoured my entire childhood through my adolescence, was some of the country’s most beautiful terrain to explore, hike and camp in. The first time I saw my husband with a headlamp on, setting up our tent in the dark in Big Sur, I shrieked with delight. It’s still nearly impossible for me not to not have an ear to ear grin wearing one, as utilitarian as they are. After my first trip up the California coastline, I secretly vowed to spend the next several years shedding my city slicker coat and never go too long without sleeping sans roof.
I’m not as bold as I was to sleep without a tent, waking up drenched in sea air or covered in mosquito bites once or twice was enough. I’m a tent kind of gal, and despite all the beautiful rigs you’ll see around Topanga Canyon and on the road, I still love pitching a tent. It’s collaborative, requires some patience and is an ideal way to slowly acclimate to your resting spot of choice.
Along the way I’ve learned a bit of camping etiquette — a lot of people frown upon location tagging campsites for example. Many years ago I location-tagged a photo I posted to Instagram while visiting BLM land that we often frequent. It was an innocent post, and I had no insight on the damage that can do, until a stranger commented, “DELETE THIS LOCATION TAG”. I felt ashamed that I had done it, asked my husband about it and he kindly explained to me that some of the best places should be kept low key and secret. Several years after that lesson learning post, I saw firsthand the implications social media can have on a place; the land was packed, noisier, and littered. Which leads to maybe the most important rule of camping: Respect the land in other words, Pack in Pack Out — leave absolutely nothing behind.
At the start of summer, and in the midst of an unprecedented drought, I yearned for dips in a river, so I pulled a map of California and cross checked it with the state parks website to plan our next camp. To my dismay, every single booking was taken. I checked Washington state, knowing water runs a plenty and funnels down to Oregon. Those campsites too were all taken. All of the West Coast campsites adjacent to the sea or fresh water was unavailable. I could only be happy that more people were spending time outdoors, but after hours or research, I felt the scarcity of sites was disappointing. Then I recalled a friend suggesting HIPCAMP, a website, like AirBnb where private land is offered to campers in an array of forms, from open camping, to more polished experiences like yurts, Airstreams and treehouses.
That is how I discovered Cedar Bloom Farm, while I was tracing the Illinois River on the map. Itrests on 99 acres of protected forest, on unceded Takilma Territory just outside of Cave Junction OR, off the 199 Redwood Highway. Cedar Bloom was purchased in the spring of 2017 by Spirit Weavers Gathering as a place of peace and healing, for all walks of life. Given that the campsite is posted online and on Instagram to stumble upon, I feel I can share this slice of heaven with you, and yes, it is a strictly pack in pack out piece of land.
My reservation for the night, 1 tent and RV site, was $55 dollars, less than most state park camping fees. Upon booking, a friendly host sent me excellent details on how to arrive, along with the land’s noise guidelines (thankfully you will not find yourselves perched next to a noisy camp through the night here), what could be expected, a clothing optional ‘mermaid’ swimming hole for example, and that someone would meet me upon arrival to show us around the property. Their camp store on site has most things you could need, and locally made offerings, but I will suggest packing a river float.
We were greeted first by a family of fawns. Hardly a few days old, they trotted by us with their mother, stopping for a long hello. To my surprise, I got a text from the host, ‘Someone from Topanga Canyon will be greeting you, a friend!’ What a treat it was to see her. She shared she works on the land as a camp host. She showed us around the property, a gorgeous sauna and outdoor showers with views of the river, and the swimming hole was a short walk away. Lastly we were shown the kitchen. I knew there was one on the property but this kitchen is a chef’s camping dream with everything you possibly need to prepare a lovely meal with friends. One camper nearby had a worn cookbook open, headphones on and danced around while preparing what appeared to be a garlic confit. I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
On the land you will find A frame dwellings, for those who don’t fancy a tent, there are also some geodesic domes, and a grand one most frequently booked for weddings at $220 a night respectively. I think one of the sweetest parts about the property is that you can get married there and invite all your friends to camp… and if you do please invite me. @spirirtweavers @cedarbloomfarm
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