The camping trip that wasn't.....
We originally intended to drive up Friday, stay overnight about an hour outside the park, while my friend Snork came up Friday and snagged a campsite, meeting her there Saturday. Some crazy cold weather forecast changed our plans a bit, the Snork's decided to pass on the trip, and we booked another hotel for Saturday night as well. Kind of a bummer, the girls (and me!) were looking forward to a fun weekend in the park with them, but what are you gonna do.
Lucky for us, it turned out to be super PERFECT weather - high's around mid-50's in the mountains, and not unreasonably cold in the mornings. Beautiful hiking weather.
#1 gets out of school pretty late - around 4 - which was the catalyst for our decision to stay outside the park the first night. We ended up leaving OC around 7, hoping that LA traffic died down a little bit. We made pretty good time, and made it to our hotel around 11:30 (and man, we were really glad we weren't driving another 2 hours up the mountain to set up a tent).
The drive up? SUPER foggy. When we arrived, we asked a ranger at the Foothills Visitor Center for some good options for one day, with a 6 year old. She gave us a couple of excellent suggestions, and told us the forecast was clear and sunny. Really? Huh.
|When giving a kid directions on photo ops... be specific. Like, Hey, take a picture of us WITH THE ROCK we climbed up...|
|Imagine the above picture, on this.|
There's some construction on the 198 into the park, delaying traffic for about 20 minutes - the road becomes one lane, and they stop inbound traffic for 20 minutes to let outbound traffic run, then alternate. We happened to hit the light both directions RIGHT when it turned red, so we had heaps of time to enjoy the scenery...
After driving up the 198 a bit, we were REALLY glad we didn't attempt it at night. It's not bad in the daylight, but I can't imagine having to drive it at night, after driving 5 hours to get there.
We hit the Giant Forest, and it was still super, SUPER foggy. It was so, so pretty - giant trees, everything green, like a fairy land. Kind of magic.
We broke through the clouds, and hit up the first area that the ranger suggested - Lodgepole campground, where we originally planned to camp.
After picnicking and storing our food in the bear lockers....
|Really? Will you REALLY?|
we headed down to the river to try some fishing.
It was not super successful, but it was super duper fun.
|Gabby requested to caption this "Log Walking for a Child"|
After Lodgepole, we drove back down to the Giant Forest to see the General Sherman tree, Crescent Meadow, and Tharp's Log.
|No headless dancing?|
General Sherman tree trail is only about half a mile long, but it's down hill to view the tree, then uphill on the way back.
Did you know it's hard to hike uphill at 7,000' altitude?
Crescent Meadow Loop (to Tharp's Log) was about a 2 mile loop, through forest and, duh, meadows.
|Unclear what that rock did to earn The Look...|
We didn't want to drive back down that road in the dark, so we headed out of the park, and got to our next hotel in about 30 minutes - not nearly as far a drive as I expected.
On the way out of the park, ALL of the cars on the road were stopped. People were just out of their cars, standing in the road taking pictures, of 5 bear cubs on a hillside next to the road - one in a tree, 4 roaming around just a few feet from the cars.
Now I want to have a pet bear, because they were the cutest EVER.
We ate delicious, delicious greasy pizza at Pizza Factory.
Sunday morning, we hiked out to the river behind the hotel (maybe 1/4 mile out back), and tried some more fishing (still no luck).
We hit We Three Bakery before heading out of Three Rivers.
We took some random back roads home, took hours and hours, found fresh produce stands selling the cheapest, most delicious fruits that we ate during the drive, and made it home in time for dinner.
We'll definitely be coming back - the park was a bit closer than Yosemite, making it way more manageable for a long weekend - if we could take off earlier on a Friday (obviously on a day #1 is not in school), it would be ideal. We barely scratched the surface of what the park had to offer - I was DYING to do Mineral King, and Kings Canyon, but it didn't make sense in the time we had - so we'll be planning another trip in the late spring.
but so far no luck.