Posts Tagged ‘6500 feet’

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 3: GENERAL GRANT HIKE

October 29, 2012

GENERAL GRANT HIKE.   Day #3 brought sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s!  Whooo HOoooooOOOOooo!

During our stay at Kings Canyon there was a prescribed burn going on so the mornings and evenings were quite smokey…. which made for great sun ray pictures!

We took advantage of the clear weather and did the hike to the General Grant Tree which was a 1/2 mile from our campground.  This was our first glimpse of one of the BIG trees.  General Grant is the third largest tree in the world.  It started growing before the Egyptians built the pyramids.  Yes, it’s true.  Along the trail there were several fallen trees expanding our minds as to the enormity of these specimens.  In the middle of the trail the 7-year-old girl that was with us randomly announces to no one in particular, “This is a great place to shuffle” and proceeds to do the shuffle right there on the pine straw.  Priceless.

No, there will be no photo essay of General Grant…. my camera batteries died on this hike.  Bummer, dude.  But we did sit on the hill above Gen. Grant and broke out our nature journals and drew the immense fire scar on the tree’s back side.  While we sat there drawing, coloring and munching on beef jerky, groups of tourists came by from France.  We spoke with a few of them, but their English was about as good as our French.  About 90% of the people we met during our week stay were from France.  We still don’t know why….

Deer were plentiful in our campground and all around the parks.  These timid animals were not afraid of people or cars.  Sad.  Our girls were playing on the jumbo fallen log in the meadow behind our camp when a group of four deer came near.  The girls froze and whispered to each other as they watched the gentle animals graze.  Eventually one of the teenage boys yelled and the deer took off.  Nora had never seen deer run before.  She came scooting over to the camp and proclaimed, “Mom, they don’t run. They bounce!”  So cute!

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

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 2: The BLUSTERY DAY & STUMP MEADOW

October 28, 2012

THE BLUSTERY DAY.  As the snow continued to fall, we realized our plans for the day had slowly drifted away, much like the snowflakes we were witnessing making their listless trek to the white ground below.  National Park solution #1: Visitor Center!  Yeehaw!  A roof, heated rooms, a movie, warm bathrooms with hot running water, etc. etc.  Off we went.  We took in a 20 minute movie about Kings Canyon with the three teenage boys reading the last word of every subtitle.  Did my homeschooling-mama-heart good. I taught those youngsters to read when they were wild, little, dirty whippersnappers.

The ten of us wandered the displays, felt the sharp blades of the 20 foot saw that was once used on the mammoth Sequoia trees, looked into bird nests, examined various sized pine cones and felt the bark of the enormous trees.  Much to our surprise, there was a beautiful educational room at the back of the center that we inhabited for several hours.  Our art boxes were brought in from the cars and we homeschooled in our socks in the shadows of three enormous paintings of the life zones we had studied.  Perfect!

Each of the wall murals was abounding in animals and plants of each zone.  The kids had made diorama boxes of these exact scenarios and they recollected many of the flora and fauna.

Postcards were purchased, written, stamped and sent home to various recipients whose addresses we knew by memory. We ate granola bars and cheese sticks.  Of course, we also did the booklets for the Jr. Ranger Program!  What would a trip to a national park be without doing a word find puzzle???  We learned about backpacking canisters for bear-safe food storage… see the black can?

As the natives got restless, we had wheelbarrow races and then we played charades in teams with National Park dice.  No one will ever forget Austin’s portrayal of a space ship complete with noises… because we are all familiar with the sounds made by alien flying saucers.

STUMP MEADOW.  After lunch, the snow had turned to rain and then to mist, allowing us to venture out and see a bit of the park.  Our first stop was Stump Meadow where hundreds of the BIG trees were harvested in the 1850s.  You can’t quite grasp the vastness of this area from a picture, but I offer my feeble attempt.

All eight of our children fit into the fire scar of this big stump with room to spare.  We have been reading My Side of the Mountain and the sequel The Far Side of the Mountain about Sam Gribley who, at 15,  moved from NYC to the hills and made a giant Hemlock his home.  Every time we saw a new BIGGER stump or hollowed-out tree the kids would claim, “This one will be my home!”

One last photo for you which I titled “The Little Colombian and the Giant Tree.”  Yes, Nora is standing there at the bottom, but I couldn’t back up far enough to get the top of the tree in the picture.  They are BIG.

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

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 1: The ARRIVAL & FIRST MORNING

October 27, 2012

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.