Kings Canyon Camping Episode 1: The ARRIVAL & FIRST MORNING

THE ARRIVAL.  Driving the supposed 10 hours and 21 minutes from Phoenix, AZ to Kings Canyon National Park, CA was almost uneventful with the exception of the swaying tent trailer that required only 60 MPH, the unfindable Visalia Costco that was a Walmart (seems that Costco moved to a new building and didn’t tell Mapquest), and the Park Ranger who said the showers were closed for winter. He was mistaken much to my relief after the 13 hour trip with two crazy moms and eight kids.

We arrived at Azalea Campground with about 90 minutes of sunlight to spare.  Every camper was in motion getting tents set up, wood hauled, food in bear boxes, fire built, trailer leveled, etc.  THEN, being a mom, I went to the closest bathroom building that was just a hop, skip and jump from our campsite, only to find out that it was also closed for winter.  GAH!  Next time we will check bathrooms BEFORE we unpack and set up camp.  So, much exercise was had ALL week hiking the hill to the open bathroom facility.

We tucked ourselves into chilly sleeping bags and beds, turned the propane heater to low in the trailer and snuggled in for a cozy night.  My night time camping routine might seem needlessly silly to some, but it works for me.  Wool socks with sweat pants tucked into them. Long sleeve t-shirt tucked into the sweat pants to halt drafty freezing breezes.  Long sleeve flannel jammie shirt.  Long sleeve red Mickey Mouse hooded sweatshirt with drawstring hood that is tied down to a small circle that only reveals my nose and mouth.  And earplugs.  And hand warmers…. I hold them in my hands until they are toasty, then I put the little bags of comfy warmth into my socks for the night.  BAM!  Arizona woman sleeps in a thin tent trailer at 6,500 feet in October in comfort.

THE FIRST MORNING.  My initial recollection was that there was daylight instead of darkness unlike the other 42 times I awoke during the night. My nose told me that it was chilly out….. really chilly.  Next, an early riser who had already departed from the tent trailer cheerily yelled, “It’s snowing!”  Turning over and snuggling down deeper into my warm nest, I closed my eyes and groaned, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!”  But it was true.  Weather.com had predicted only a 40% chance of rain or light snow.  They were 60% wrong.

One of the books that I read to my children in preparation for this trip was about Johnny and Teddy (John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt) titled The Camping Trip that Changed America.  Mr. Muir took the President camping in Yosemite to raise his awareness of the vast and enormously beautiful landscape that needed protection and the National Parks were born.  The two men awoke to a snow covered valley below them and Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed it the “best day of my life!”  The President’s joy was his alone as I did not share his feelings upon seeing snow while camping in the Sierra Nevadas, but I was glad for the experience for my city-slicker kids.  Every kid should camp in the snow ONCE! Simply to say they did…. and lived to tell the story.

Banana pancakes have never tasted quite as delectable as they did that cold cold inaugural morning of our week’s stay at Kings Canyon.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

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