The Sequoia Backpack, 2010

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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.

 

 

 

 

We stopped at the bottom of the mountain and had lunch at the Gateway Lodge.  The "boys" went swimming in the Kaweah River.

Greg's in, Devon's trying to get up his courage.  The river is between 5' and 8' feet deep.

Now they're both in!

Big greasy lunch on the patio over the river.  It was about 95 degrees in the shade.

Lodge on the left, Kaweah River below.

Up in the Sequoia Park now, in front of the General Sherman tree.

Looking up the Sherman tree.

On the "path" to the top of Morro Rock.   From the top of Morro Rock you can see the first three days of the trail.

On the top of Morro Rock, 14 miles in the distant background you can see where we'll be hiking to tomorrow.

We took our Scotch and Whiskey, hors d'oeuvres and Greg had a cigar.  Lots of comments from the "tourists" about how we knew how to travel!

By tradition we stay until the sun sets!

Dinner at the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia.  Greg & I had beers, Devon had Root Beer.

Leaving Crescent Meadows, 14 miles to Bear Paw Camp!

 

At the start of the High Sierra Trail to Bear Paw Camp.

Leaving Crescent Meadows we hiked through the Giant Sequoias.

 

Devon & Trent.  Notice that I'm [Trent] the only one carrying a backpack.

On the trail.

Looking back towards Crescent Meadows and the trailhead, about 2 mile distant.

Rest stop, hydration stop, & "Goo" stop.

Looking back down the trail towards the trailhead.

Here's a packer taking in supplies for the tent camp.  There's no roads.  Everything is brought in via mules.

In the background, beyond the big rock formation [over Greg's left shoulder] is where Bear Paw Camp is located.

Miles to go yet.  Devon was in full "whine" mode at this point.  "How much farther?"  "Are we there yet?"

Lunch stop by 7 Mile Creek, about half way there.

Lots of water and waterfalls along the trail.

 

 

Bear Paw Tent Camp.  Six tents, two beds in each, on wooden floors.  This place is NOT cheap, $454 a night for the 3 of us.

The "dining" tent and porch.  For the $454 a night you get a tent, dinner & breakfast, a hot shower & a flush toilet.

 

On the porch, late afternoon,, the meals were good! 

Three views across the canyon as the sun was going down.

The boys recovering from the 14 mile hike.

Full "recovery mode".  The price of this establishment is reflected in the fact that virtually everything is packed in on mules.

Just as the sun was setting.  Hamilton Lake is 6 miles farther on with Kaweah Gap at the top of the ridge line.

We had a campfire of course!

After breakfast the next morning.  Getting ready to hike out.

I'd have rather sat on that porch all day,,, but at $454 a day,,,,,

On the hike out we crossed the little foot bridge at Buck Creek.

Everyone's pretty "footsore" by now.

Our last look down into the Kaweah Canyon.  The river is about 3,000' below us.