Public Post!

Getting away from life to go camp­ing in the woods is some­thing Mr V. and I try to pur­sue every sum­mer. We have a great col­lec­tion of sup­plies and both of us grew up explor­ing wilder­ness­es in our respec­tive areas of the world. With my Girl Scout troop, I went tent camp­ing to a bunch of dif­fer­ent local sites in San Diego, while Mr. V grew up fol­low­ing his dad from lake to lake in Michigan catch­ing fish. Between the two of us, there’s lit­tle a camp­site can throw at us that we can’t han­dle.

Over the 4th of July hol­i­day we decid­ed it was time for a break. Mr. V hadn’t had any days off for months and I’ve been in a funk with my health con­cerns. So Tuesday night we packed up the car and at a stu­pid hour of the morn­ing Wednesday we head­ed north. Around four or five hours lat­er we arrived a the Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park. I high­ly rec­om­mend any­one who can make the trip to these parks, do so. The for­est is beau­ti­ful, of course, but the trees… oh my lord the trees.

There is sim­ply no accu­rate way to describe how large these trees are. They’re called giant sequoia for a rea­son. The largest tree by vol­ume* on the entire plan­et, known as General Sherman, grows here. They’re so mas­sive that a cross-sec­tion trans­port­ed from this for­est to a muse­um back in the 1800’s was con­sid­ered a hoax until pho­tog­ra­phy was a thing. Probably the old­est known pics or it didn’t hap­pen.

Most of my pho­tos are ver­ti­cal sim­ply to try and cap­ture the sheer height of these mon­sters. And often even at a dis­tance they were sim­ply too tall to con­tain in a sin­gle pho­to­graph. Sometimes I man­aged to get Mr. V in the pho­to, to help with a sense of scale, but even then it’s hard to con­cep­tu­al­ize an organ­ic struc­ture any­where near this size. Seeing them in per­son fried my noo­dle. I could observe atmos­pher­ic per­spec­tive at work from the for­est floor to the tops of the trees.

The parks are high in the sier­ra moun­tain range, from 6k to 8k feet above sea lev­el. I live AT sea lev­el, which made any­thing more viger­ous than walk­ing around some­thing of a chore. I could breathe just fine, but it always felt like my legs were full of lac­tic acid after a work­out, burn­ing because I was mak­ing them work with­out suf­fi­cient O2. I nev­er adjust­ed to this. Infuriatingly, Mr. V had no issue with the alti­tude.

There are sev­er­al camp­grounds, muse­ums, vis­i­tor cen­ters, and spe­cif­ic, named trees to check out at these two parks. All the impor­tant places have paved roads and walk­ways. There are miles of great hik­ing if you can tol­er­ate the alti­tude and a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent lakes/streams in the area if you’re into water. The camp­grounds on the east­ern side are packed with peo­ple since it’s the pri­ma­ry entrance from Fresno and easy enough for peo­ple liv­ing or vis­it­ing there to day-trip into the park for their tourist fix. We stayed at a camp­ground called Azalea in Grant Grove fur­ther to the west, which was qui­et and half-emp­ty. Perfect for us. Grant Grove’s vis­i­tor cen­ter was less than a quar­ter mile from the camp­ground, so we walked up there for wifi and beer when nec­es­sary.

We had a great time. There was a lot of walk­ing (so much walk­ing), some fan­tas­tic water for fish­ing, and we dis­cov­ered sev­er­al sum­mer camp lodges for kids that would have been so epic to expe­ri­ence as a child. The weath­er was per­fect, upper 80’s at the peak, which left us with beau­ti­ful shady loung­ing sies­tas. We have a ham­mock in our camp gear that saw a lot of use. Wildlife includ­ed deer (both male with new antlers and female with fawn), chicka­rees (pho­to below), jays, robins, lady­bugs, ground squir­rels, and ravens. There are black bears in the area but we saw no signs of them.

And of course, we brought the rats along for the ride. This is the first time Widget and Gizmo have gone camp­ing and boy, were they con­fused by the whole process. We pur­chased a larg­er car­ry case for them to lounge in, which they chewed on imme­di­ate­ly, and the first day/night in the park they nev­er came out. Day two I bribed them with yogurt and after that they were bold enough to explore both their playpen (anoth­er dog-tool con­vert­ed for our use) and the camp table.

Widget, the more adven­tur­ous of the sis­ters, decid­ed she want­ed to return to the wild and harass squir­rels. She got to crawl around on a tree stump and inves­ti­gate the leaf lit­ter under intense super­vi­sion. Gizmo, on the oth­er hand, made it clear she was a city rat and would have noth­ing to do with the out­doors if she could help it. I con­vinced her into my sweater some­times, but only with extra treats. They both had a very unique expe­ri­ence and based on their con­stant brux­ing I’d say they enjoyed them­selves. They were, of course, delight­ed to return home.

Mr. V and I returned on Saturday so we could have a day to rest, unpack, do laun­dry, and oth­er­wise prep for a work week. That day was very required. Everything in a camp­ing trip needs to be washed, rinsed, or oth­er­wise brushed clean in order to be packed away for long-term stor­age. And since it’s ear­ly sum­mer, all the pine trees are drop­ping their pollen, so we came home with a car, tent, and easy-up yel­low with pollen. There’s pollen on my new car’s touch­screen. There’s pollen inside my water bot­tles!

I’m back at my café now, work­ing on mpreg sto­ries. I need to wipe down my entire car after lunch, and find a car wash, but that’s the usu­al cleanup after a camp­ing trip. We’re excit­ed to be back and already plan­ning our next adven­ture out.

*Largest Tree By Volume, not to be con­fused with tallest tree, old­est tree, biggest tree cir­cum­fer­ence, etc.