Stars Sequoias Showers - SEPT 12, 2008

This is about the two gorgeous nights I spent in the Sierras, under spectacularly starlit skies, beside the largest living things on the planet. This is also about my first ever experience waiting in line for a shower at a public bath. 

This is about my first car camping trip, which proved to be great fun and a great adventure.

 

"Adventure is just bad planning."
Roald Amundsen
Norwegian Arctic & Antarctic explorer (1872 - 1928)

 

After an extremely busy day (in fact an extremely busy week) at work, I rushed home to pack my bags and loaded up all of my “virgin” camping gear in to a rented Toyota Corolla. I used up every inch of the trunk and the back seat and was glad that I hadn’t agreed to carpool with the others in the group.

My wife and I drove four and half hours straight and got to our hotel in Tulare (pronounced “To Larry”) around midnight. The hotel was shadier than I had expected. There was certainly something quite illegal going on, but I couldn’t care less. The hotel staff was friendly and the room was just what I needed for a basic sleepover en route my destination. 

After some very basic continental breakfast we headed for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, stopping only briefly in Three Rivers to buy some Fire Wood for our camp.

The first activity on the agenda was a short hike in the Lodgepole area. The hike to Tokopah Falls is 3.4 miles round trip through beautiful forest scenery. The trail hugs the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River throughout and gains about 500 ft in altitude, mostly towards the end. The river hardly had any water and the waterfall itself was no more than a trickle. 

On the way back, we saw a fairly large black bear in the river, minding his own sweet business. I am sure he noticed us and the other hikers clicking away with their cameras, but he didn’t seem to care.

Thus far, this day had lacked any traits of a camping trip, notwithstanding the mini household I was packing in my car of course. But that was about to end in a matter of minutes. Unlike what one would expect, my camping initiation wouldn’t begin with the ceremonious striking of mallet on a tent stake or even the archetypal roasting of a S’more. The very first camping ritual I got introduced to was the not-so-glamorous public shower. Standing in a long line with over a dozen quarters in my hand I waited, still in high spirits mind you, for my very own eight minutes under a shower head. 

After what seemed like the longest eight minutes of my life, we headed to our campsite in Dorst Creek. In little over an hour the tents were up, the fire was lit and dinner was getting ready on my brand new Coleman twin burner stove.

We enjoyed our meal and admired the stars barely noticing our enthusiastic camp-neighbors and their Bollywood Antakshri

The next morning we decided to undertake a slightly more strenuous hike in Kings Canyon. We hiked to Mist Falls and back, a round-trip distance of slightly over 9 miles. The trail was mostly flat and sandy, except for the last mile which gains about 600 ft just before reaching the falls. Throughout we walked along what I think is Kings River. We stopped for a brief lunch break at the Bubbs Creek Bridge almost 2 miles into the hike. Unlike Tokopah Falls on the Kaweah, Mist Falls still packed a punch even this late in the season.

Later that night, the drive back to camp was almost uneventful, except for the fact that I almost hit what we now believe was a bear that materialized from nowhere and bolted across the General’s Highway just inches in front of my car! Makes me wonder – why did the bear cross the road?

Upon reaching the camp, we cooked, ate and sat around enjoying the much appreciated warmth from the campfire. This trip was to end soon, but we were already planning another. Hopefully sometime soon.

 

Some of my photographs from this trip are posted here.

 

 

 

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