Last weekend, TDH and I drove up to my grandparents cabin with some friends. My grandparents own two cabins in Twain Harte, a small town in Tuolumne County near Sonora, CA. The small town of Twain Harte is nestled in the mountains with a small lake right smack in the middle. I love it up there because it is beautiful all year round and a great place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In the summer it is a great place to sunbath and swim in the lake or go hiking in nearby Pinecrest mountain. In the winter it is a great place to go skiing or snowboarding at Dodge Ridge or just chill by the fire and stay warm.
To get from San Francisco to Twain Harte you have to drive down the 580 freeway to the I-5, which is not a very pleasant thing to do on a Friday evening amidst rush hour traffic. None of us had eaten dinner as we were expecting to get to the cabin by 7pm and were excited to enjoy a home cooked meal together. So when it hit 7pm and we were still gridlocked on the 580 freeway with our tummies growling, we realized we were going to have a fun ride ahead of us. The ride usually takes about two and half hours from San Francisco but that Friday evening it took us over four hours to get to the cabin. By the time we finally arrived it was almost 10pm and we were all famished. Luckily, I had brought my pre-cooked Daring Bakers Lasagna and all I had to do to get dinner ready was pop my lasagnas in the oven to reheat, make a quick salad, and warm up some French bread.
While I was getting dinner ready, TDH was busy getting the fire lit and the heater turned on to warm up the cabin. Although it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful, sunny, warm weekend, it still cools down quite a bit up in the mountains at night. After dinner we all took our wine out to the living room to sit by the fire for a bit, catch up, and enjoy some homemade tiramisu that Miranda had brought. By the time we were all stuffed from dinner and desert, it was already about midnight and some of our guests were getting tired so we let them go to bed and the rest of us moved back into the dining room and played Texas Hold ‘em until 4am or later.
The next morning we all hobbled out of bed, tired and hung over, but happy. My friend Miranda whipped us up an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs with sausage, sautéed onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and cheese. It was just what we needed to to soak up that remaining bit of alcohol left in our stomachs and kick start our day. My friends Sarah and Sarah (The Sarah’s) headed out to Dodge ridge to go snowboarding for the day. Dodge ridge is a small ski resort up in the pine crest mountain about 45 minutes from Twain Harte and a great place to go skiing or snowboarding in the winter.
The rest of us headed to Leland High Sierra Snow Play, also in Pinecrest. Snow Play is a place to go tubing in the snow. You can rent a tube and walk up the mountain for $18/day or you can rent a tube and get towed up the mountain for $20/halfday or $30/day. We opted for the lazy route and got tow-up tickets. On the weekends, this place is crawling with young kids having the time of their life.
We tried going down forward, backward, and on our stomach, we tried stealing some of the faster tubes to make it seem like more of a thrill, but after going down about three or four times we were all pretty much done and ready to move on. It probably is not worth the $20 if you do not have a kid under 8 years old but it was still fun to check it out, especially since this was the first time TDH had seen snow since he was a young kid.
After our short stint on the tubes, TDH, Ken, Cerena, and I went off to find the Pinecrest lake and do some hiking, while Miranda and Eric went off and did their own thing. There is a ton of great hiking up in Pinecrest and most of it is easy to moderate hiking. We were planning to drive to the lake and walk around a bit, maybe take some pictures of the lake and some trees. We were all pretty tired so we were not planning on doing anything too strenuous or difficult.
When we got to the lake, we started walking and found a path hidden under the snow. We decided to try to follow that for awhile, but before we knew it we were pretty far away from the car and had to make a decision: do we turn back around and dredge through the snow in our measly little tennis shoes or do we keep going and stick it out until we can get to the other side where the snow has already all melted? None of us were particularly fond of getting our feet soaked and slipping and sliding through the snow that covered the path and it did not look THAT far to walk around the lake so we decided to keep going. We kept walking, kept walking, kept walking, eventually we had to start climbing as the path slowly disappeared.
Well, we were in for a much longer, more difficult hike than any of us committed to. The hike around the lake is about three miles and fairly rigorous but it is not a bad hike if you plan for it, wear the right shoes, and bring snacks so you are not starving before you even begin your 2.5 hour hike hours. We did none of these things so after awhile this hike seemed quite intimidating, but we made it around and I am so glad we ended up doing the full hike.
There are parts of the lake where you are walking across the bridge over a river, rushing rapidly toward the lake, or walking over the damn looking straight down at all the rocks. It was fun, but we were exhausted by the time we got back to the car.
Luckily, when we got back home, The Sarah’s, Nathan, Miranda, and Eric were already there and dinner had already been started. Miranda, our chef for the weekend, whipped us up some amazing blue cheese stuffed burgers, which she served with avocado, bacon, sautéed onions, and mushrooms, and more cheese as toppings. They were so yummy and totally hit the spot! After dinner we all sat by the fire again and played a couple of games of Apples to Apples and Balderdash until around midnight when we all decided we were way to beat and went to bed. It was a great weekend with friends and nature and it was nice to be away from the city, without any internet, cell phones, or TV to distract us.
Below is the recipe for Miranda’s blue cheese burgers. These burgers are decadent and not for those trying to lose or maintain their weight. I might try in the future to make a healthier version but I am sure it will never taste as good as these did. It is a very general recipe and very adaptable to any size party or any particular preference or taste. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!