Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sequoia Overnighter

Since I have Monday off from work, I decided to drive up to Sequoia National Forest. I left on Saturday around 4:00 and arrived at my camping destination after sunset.

I found a nice secluded site along the Kern River away from the big campgrounds. After eating some chili and rice for dinner and reading a few chapters of my book, I was excited to get some sleep and was looking forward to a long day of exploring when I awoke.

Moon glow off the Kern/
Crickets sing under the stars/
Sand beneath my feet.

I woke up to a warm morning and was anticipating a good day. I drove up to the Sequoia grove of 100 giants and quickly revisited some of the trees I first saw last year. However, I was itching to hit a trail. I drove to a spot where there appeared to be a trail head.

There was a small group of hunters who were also parked in the dirt lot, rummaging through their gear and drinking some cokes. While putting on my hiking boots I was listening to part of their conversation. "I'm hoping to grow this beard like ZZ Top. I'm not going to shave until this thing reaches my nuts." Once I got my boots on, I was ready to hit the trail. I said hi to the hunters and talked to one of them for a few minutes. He told me he and his buddies were out for the weekend but they hadn't caught anything. After parting ways, I started looking for the trail. It led out into the forest and then quickly split into numerous directions and was not maintained. After looking around for a few minutes, I realized I was not prepared to hike in this area since I didn't have a map and it seemed very easy to get turned around and lost. Unfortunately, I knew I was going to have to swallow my pride and cross paths with the hunters again, only 5 minutes after entering the woods. I reemerged back into the parking lot where the hunters were still sitting, packing up gear, and talking.
"Back so soon?" asked hunter 1.
"Yeah, is there a hiking trail back here?" I asked.
"You got a weapon?" asked hunter 2.
"For animals or people?" I asked.
"There's all sorts of things that will eat you back there." Said hunter 3.
(I remember getting this sort of harassment from construction workers in Yellowstone. When my roommate Zach and I were hiking down the roads, several groups of workers seemed to get immense satisfaction reminding us that Grizzlies eat humans.)
"Oh I'm not too worried about that." I replied.
"There's bears and mountain lions back there. All it takes is one encounter with a lion." Said hunter 2.
I guess he did have a point there. After looking at their maps which they kindly offered, I decided it was probably best to go look for a trail that was better marked. I said goodbye to the hunters and got in my car to find another spot. Since I did not have an adequate road map either, I ended up taking a road that took me out of the National Forest. Once I realized that the road was going to eventually dump me back into the Central Valley, I didn't feel like turning the car around. I ended up having a nice Sunday morning drive through the California countryside and had to settle with a FAIL for this particular trip.

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