We left at 5:00 a.m. I am rarely awake at that time in the morning, but I do enjoy it on occasion – what I don’t enjoy is a 5 hour car ride. However, it was a means to an end, and that end was camping. At five in the morning, the Pacific coast is barely waking up. We had the road to ourselves. The sunrise was the perfect way to begin our adventure, full of promise and beauty. The photograph above is one of the few I was able to get without power lines running through it. The downsides of having power and electricity.
We arrived at the campground and found the perfect site (which was actually in Kings Canyon National Park). We put all our food in the bear box, quickly set up our tent, and went in search of fire wood. Last time when we went in the winter, we spent quite a bit of money on wood. Since we were now in summer with dry wood, we decided to do some foraging. In all actuality someone left a copious amount of wood in the site next to ours, so we foraged that (but we did search for kindling and more wood when we ran low!). Very soon after we arrived, we had some guests. A doe and her two fawns. We saw them, and at least two other does, every day. They did not seem afraid, let alone aware, of our presence.
Since we didn’t have a full day ahead of us, we decided to visit Hume Lake to relax for a while before we settled down to cook dinner. It was a beautiful lake day and even warm enough to take a dip in the water. It was quite a contrast to when we were there in the winter – the lake was frozen over and snow covered the ground at that time.
Everywhere we drove, the clouds were unbelievable. You don’t always get these kinds of clouds in other places, but here it was commonplace yet awe-ful. The clouds don’t even notice how revered they are.
One place we always must go is Grant Grove to pay homage to General Grant Tree and all the other massive beings. The branches on these trees are the size of normal trees. That’s how big they are.
We wanted to swim in the river, so we stopped at a random place on Kings River that looked relatively private with calm waters. It turned out to be a great spot, albeit somewhat shallow. The air was warm, the water was cold, but we swam anyway, and let the water cleanse our hair and bodies.
When we were out foraging for more wood we heard what sounded like chainsaws (and I had come to get away from all that noise!) and saw a man wearing one of those orange and yellow working crew vests. Obviously, they were doing some work on trees. He shouts at us, “Hey! You want to see a tree fall down?” Of course we did. So, we witnessed it. And it felt remarkably like guilty by association to murder. Apparently the tree was a fire hazard because it had been struck by lightning at least once before. In order to protect the area, they cut it down. The crack of this tree was so violent in comparison to its normal, peaceful existence. I can understand wanting to protect the area, but at the same time, it was perhaps an unnecessary death, and fires in the tourist areas of these national parks need to take place as well. The land needs to be rejuvenated.
My favorite place was Buck Rock Lookout. It has an elevation of 8500 feet. You can drive up to the base of the lookout, however, it was a beautiful day, so we hiked from the campground, which was about 2.5 miles. The air was so fresh and clean and cool. You can only get to the lookout via a series of staircases leading up to the one-room building. It may sound frightening, but the stairs were very sturdy with guard rails the whole way, which, we read, wasn’t always the case. The fire lookouts used to get up there by climbing a pole with planks of board nailed perpendicularly to use as “steps.”
The woman who was currently the lookout was very friendly and answered all the questions we had. Such as, “Do you ever get struck by lightning?” And yes, she had. They have a chair with big, rubber tips at the end of the legs that they must sit on during a lightning storm. They are supposed to keep watch during these storms and once it passes, they plot on the map where lightning struck. All of these interesting jobs I hear about – how do people come across them?
All you could hear up there was the wind. I finally found it!