The Sequoia Backpack, 2010
On August 17th we [me, Greg Hunter and Greg's 12 year old son Devon] went on a 3 day trip to Sequoia National Park. We drove up Highway 99, then over to Three Rivers where we stopped at the Gateway Lodge for lunch. After lunch, and because it was about 95 degrees in the shade, Greg & Devon climbed down the rocks and went swimming in the Kaweah River.
Leaving Three Rivers we drove on up into the park and checked in at the Wuksaki Lodge. Then off to explore a bit,,, hiked down to see the General Sherman Sequoia tree which is supposed to be [?] the biggest tree in the world. Lots of foreign tourist about, mostly from Europe.
Just before sundown we hiked to the top of Morro Rock where by tradition [my tradition having done so 3 times previously] we stayed until nearly twilight. From the top of Morro Rock you can look east and see where Bear Paw Camp is, 14 miles away. That's where we were headed the next day. We had "borrowed" a ice bucket, a bunch of ice and some glasses from the lodge, took our Scotch & Jack Daniels, some hors d'oeuvres [Cocktail Weenies] and celebrated the setting sun on the top. We were certainly getting a lot of envious looks from the other hikers up there as we had our drinks. Then back to the lodge, dinner in the lodge's dining room, back to our room and bed.
Breakfast at the lodge the next morning, over to park headquarters for our trail passes, and then out to Crescent Meadows and the trailhead for the High Sierra Trail. The map shows it's 11 1/2 miles to our destination, Bear Paw Tent Camp, but it's actually 14 miles [verified via GPS]. The first half mile is through the Giant Sequoias then out onto the canyon wall where you can see the Kaweah River about 3,000 feet below.
The trail has a minor uphill grade to it for the first 13 miles or so, then 3/4 of a mile being a very steep grade into the Bear Paw Meadow area. Of course by the time you hit that grade it's late afternoon, it's hot [85 degrees], and you're "done in" and starting to "walk like one of Jerry's kids". But we got there in reasonably good time, having left Crescent Meadows at 9 AM and getting into camp about 3:30 PM.
Bear Paw Meadows has two sites, a "public" campground with water and "bear cans" for backpacker's food, and a commercial "tent camp". The commercial camp, operated under license by the Park Service, consists of a large dining/cook tent with a lovely "porch", and 6 "guest" tents. Each tent has a wooden floor, two beds and an oil lamp. The camp has one outhouse with a "flush toilet ", and a shower. It is expensive. The one night for the three of us, with one sleeping on the floor [Greg], was $454.
After showers we had our drinks [Whiskey & Scotch which we'd brought with us] on the "porch", using the last 4 ice cubes available at the camp, Greg smoked his cigar, and we speculated as to whether our feet [footsore] would ever recover. Then dinner. BBQ chicken, salads, potatoes, carrot cake, and more. The food is excellent. By then it was dark and Devon built a bonfire out on the rock ledge overlooking the Kaweah Canyon. The rest of the camp guests joined in and the camp hosts came up with marshmallows and pointy forks. Then to bed. It was dark out, a long ways to the single outhouse, so we pee'd in the bushes all night.
After a big breakfast the next morning we loaded up and headed out. Back 14 miles to Crescent Meadows. Whew, those last 4 or 5 miles seemed to take forever! We got back to the car about 2:30 PM, threw our stuff in the trunk, and headed down the mountain. We got back to La Canada about 8:30 PM.
One note about a trek like this: the day we got to Bear Paw the Park Service flew a guy out via helicopter who had a severe case of AMS [Acute Mountain Sickness] and cerebral edema. He was in critical condition, totally incapacitated and unable to even stand up let alone hike. His two companions told us it was because he hadn't "trained" for the hike, and hadn't properly hydrated during the hike in to Bear Paw. It's a lesson to be learned by those who want to do treks like this.