dispatches & explored

Segue: Kings Canyon

No “Might”s about It …

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This past Spring Break, whilst his big sister was touring Philadelphia, Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington DC, Trailmaster Cobra was eager for his own “big trip.” Having recently lost my job and with the missus synched to the school’s schedule, it was that rare week where we actually had. The. Time. So we decided for a little 3-strong family vakay.

I gave the little man a few options, but the list was queried with a simple “which one of these has the most camping?” Ah, my boy. 😉 The answer to that was Kings Canyon, and so on Easter Sunday we were on our way.

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Laters

The forecast was oh-so-tempting … 27 degrees with ice storms and lightning! Awesome. The little man was going to absolut — oh, yes, sorry, dear … forgot you hate the cold. So reservations were made at the John Muir Lodge. My erstwhile mini-mountain man was a bit disappointed to be lodging rather than braving the elements, but late that night whilst the storm dumped hail and sleet on us and the winds kicked up, he decided Mom’s choice of digs was the preferred lodging after all.

Day the first, the boy was ready to fish. So we packed up the pole and tackle and made our way to Hume Lake, in the adjacent Sequoia National Forest.

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We caught precisely nothing. But the boy is tenacious, and when he decides he’s going to catch something, he usually catches something, so it was a few hours of changing spots, lures, bait, rinse, and repeat. Later that afternoon, we headed out to Redwood Canyon, following the service road usually closed this time of year but this day only coated with a thin layer of ice and rime from the previous night’s storm.

Redwood Trail

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We only tramped a few miles in off-and-on drizzle, the little man and we marveling at the lush forest and its fallen giants. More storm clouds began to brew, and so we headed back eager to beat out whatever those clouds might yield.

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Back in the truck, we headed back to Grant Grove in thick fog and sideways sleet; a real treat for a 7-year-old explorer. Apres-hike, we spent the evening by the fireplace piecing together puzzles and working on his Junior Ranger workbook.

Day the second, the boy still hadn’t gotten his fill of fishing, and so more time was spent in the pursuit of dinner (this time along the banks of Stony Creek, where four years before I had the led the lady mountaineers of Troop 201 on a similar excursion).

Upper Stony Creek

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Nope. Nothing. Let’s go see some trees!

Stretch

That afternoon, the wee wanderer of the wood earned his Junior Ranger (Jay-level) badge. A proud moment, and one at which my missus always seems to cry tears of joy.

But that day, it was all Little Man could stand, he couldn’t stand no more! He wanted to camp so badly that ultimately our party parted ways: we off to Azalea camp, and my lovely bride (now accompanied my her mum) off to Lodgepole.

It was going to be a cold one, but as I’ve maintained several times over on this site, keep toes warm and bellies full and joy will abound. After he helped set up the tent and laid out the bedrolls by himself, I tasked him with laying the fire.

Tinder

Dinner Conversation

We drank tea and cocoa by the fire for hours, until Little Man stood and announced he was tired and ready for bed. The mercury had dropped to 29 by this time, so with woolly cap and fleece, I tucked him in to my legendary 1-pad/2-bag “kid cooker” system, and he was out like a light for a solid 9 hours.

The trick there is that 9 hours from 8:45pm is only 5:45am. The Steller’s jays and crows were making a god-awful racket long before the sun arose, and with their racket so rose the little man.

“Dad,” he whispered. “Can we get up?”
“It’s still dark, buddy. Let’s enjoy our warm beds for a while.”
“Okay.”
— 10 minutes later —
“Dad, can we get up now?”
“Oh, what the heck. Let’s cook up some corned beef hash.”
“Okay!”

Holy cannoli, it was cold outside. But we busied ourselves hauling water to camp and perfecting the no-match re-light from the previous night’s embers. I lit the stove and quite soon he was back on happy camper mode, sharing his repast with his new-found stuffed fox friend.

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We hiked out to the nearby mortars, and then up the road to the Visitor Center while the day struggled to warm up. We finished the day with a socked-in circumnavigation of General Grant and company.

For the Clouds

It was an entirely uneventful trip, with some fun weather. But considering how much those national park and forest trips meant to me when I was Little Man’s age, stuffed into a corner of the old Bronco, I’d wager this sojourn only served to further whet his appetite.

Get ’em out there!

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3 Responses to Segue: Kings Canyon

  1. Sean says:

    Great story! We always camped in the Sequoia side, usually down in Potwisha, because it’s awful cold up at the top, and make daytime journeys up the mountain.

    Don’t feel too bad about not catching anything. I fished Sequoia and Kings Canyon for nearly 30 years and I think caught two tiny brook trout in that entire time, and that was in like ’84. If he pulls something out of the streams/rivers your boy is a far better angler than I.

    That being said, there are few things as downright awesome as a redwood forest in a mist or in a light snow. Good times!

  2. Crash Stillman says:

    Ahhh my man,
    You know I can’t resist anything Kings.
    And that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.
    -DS

  3. Jack Elliott says:

    Good stuff. I got a few chuckles out of that. I’m eager looking forward to getting my soon to be four year old daughter out on a (super) short overnight backpack trip this year. I need a trail to a camp that’s about a hundred yards long, heheh.

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