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Mineral King, 4th of July 2005 Print E-mail
Written by Kevin   
Tuesday, 05 July 2005
Me with my Boys in Mineral King

Day 1

I started out the day by going to work, leaving Julie to finish packing the car and come pick me up at work later. We were having a potluck for the 4th of July at work that day, so Julie was also going to bring some desserts that she made. She showed up at my work around 10:30 and we spent the next hour and a half talking with people, and eating at the potluck. After lunch we got on the road to get up to Sequoia as quickly as possible. Once on the road, the trip was rather uneventful until we got off highway 99 and headed up highway 65 towards Sequoia. We traveled without incident on highway 65, until we got around the Porterville area., There we were stuck in 2 separate traffic breaks for roadwork, where it appeared that no work was actually being done. Sitting through those 2 breaks had delayed us about 40 minutes. We jumped off the highway in the Lindsay area and took some back roads (I used to have a friend that lived up here, that's how I know the roads) to meet up with highway 198, which goes into Sequoia park. We ran into yet another traffic break, however this one we happened to hit just as it was being escorted through, so it only delayed us a couple of minutes.

We drove by Lake Kaweah which I was amazed to see. I used to travel up to this area a lot, and can't remember the last time I saw this reservoir full. We snapped a few shots while driving of the full lake and headed on up to Mineral King. We drove through Three Rivers, and passed the turnoff to Mineral King, as you must check in at the foothills entrance, just a little further up the road. Once we checked in, we turned around and headed back to the road to Mineral King. Once on the road.... that's when the fun began.

Due to all the delays, and the fact that there are so few campsites in Mineral King (about 60 total between 2 campgrounds) I was in a hurry to get up the hill to secure a campsite. Very quickly we realized how "small" of a road this was. For those who have never been to Mineral King, it is a very old, sometimes dirt, and sometimes only wide enough to fit 1 car, road. We headed up the road quickly and at one point I asked Julie if something was wrong, and she said that she was concentrating on keeping her lunch down. Apparently Julie wasn't the one we had to worry about. Just before reaching the sign that signifies the boundary to the National Park I heard Blake in the back seat whimper, and then a strange wet sound. I turned around to see Blake emptying out the contents of his stomach onto himself and his car seat.  This he did about 3 - 4 times before he was finished and I have to say I was amazed at the amount of puke that can come out of a such a small child! We stopped literally at the park boundary to clean off Blake and his car seat. We decided that his outfit was a loss, and put it in the trash bag with the rest of the paper towels that we used to clean him. Finally after about 15 - 20 minutes of cleaning we were on the road again.

Our Campsite

The rest of the trip was without major incident (we did turn off the DVD player we had running for the kids, and open the car windows to try and keep Blake from puking again), and saw a few deer on our drive up. We finally made it to the campground areas and were surprised at how remote and small it was back here. We passed through the Silver City Resort (once again, very small) and finally made it to Cold Springs Campground where we were staying. All of the "easy access" sites were taken, so we finally found one large enough to accommodate our tent that was right off the road, but up a small hill. We had the fun of lugging all our gear up this hill, and then setting up the tent. By the time we were finished setting up we were all exhausted and I had a raging headache.

We decided to head to the resort to see if we could get some aspirin (we forgot to bring our Advil) but it was just before 9 pm, and by the time we got to the resort it was after 9 pm to find that the store closed at 8 pm. We turned around and headed back to the campground, and got into the tent to go to bed. After fighting with the children, we finally got them to sleep, and then Julie and I eventually dozed off to the sound of the rushing river below us.

Day 2

I have discovered my two sodas right before bed habit is bad when the bathroom is far away in the dark. I woke up at 3 a.m. and had to go pee so badly I thought that I might not make it. I have cut down today so that I might get a full night's sleep. I also woke to every sound all night looking for killer bears looking for kid meat. Julie bought a book on our 2001 trip in Yellowstone on bear attacks. She proceeded to read it to me on the drive of that trip, and ever since then we have been more aware of what might happen if a bear decides you are "fast food". My wife also has this neat bear perfume she wears. Every time we go to any National park, we see bears. Not when I go with other normal, non-bear perfume wearing people, just with her. And not just a bear say yards off, usually they are close enough to tell what religion they are ( if you know what I mean).

A Marmot

The kids awoke at 6 am we think, as we have no watch. There was no one else awake, so we know it was just damn early. We made breakfast as quickly as possible as Blake shouted like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors "Feed me". By the time we had eaten and dressed, we discovered it was 8, and headed over to the ranger station. The ranger station is quite small, more of an outpost than a station per se. The nice lady ranger gave us maps and we looked at the exhibits while marveling at the photos of giant rats, er, Marmots. They like to climb up underneath people's cars and eat radiator hoses and whatever else looks good, so people either tarp the entire underneath of their cars or surround it with chicken wire as the rangers warn them to do so or end up on Bubba's flatbed truck down to Three Rivers. We headed down to the meadow, and lo and behold, we saw the evil Marmot sitting on a stump saying "Hey, got any antifreeze?". We took his picture and moved on quickly to see Disney's failed to develop ski resort which is a parking lot for the trailhead into the alpine valley. It is very beautiful, and there is still snow this year, but we did not go hiking as we did not have marmot protection and Blake is too heavy to carry in a backpack frame any more.

Silver City Resort

After the meadow drive we headed up to Silver City Resort. It is a cute set up of 10 or 12 cabins and chalets for 100-300 bucks a night, but they also have a store there, and I needed aspirin or something like it desperately. They also had a playground where Kyle and Blake played with sand toys and went down the slide a few times. We got the aspirin and salt and pepper, plus some pancake mix and raspberry syrup that they make up here. It was better than going to the little restaurant for 9.00 a person for breakfast. After leaving the store, which we found did not sell firewood, we went to see Atwell Mills campground. We did not stay there because we weren't sure it was the nicer campground. It is however, the only campground where you can camp underneath real giant Sequoias. *sigh* I'd say maybe next time, but with Blake's performance the other day there may not be a next time for a long time to come.

A Black Bear and her cub.

On the way back to the campground Julie's bear perfume kicked in and we saw a mother black bear and her cub about six feet away from us on the road. We stopped and took some cute pictures and then the ran off. After returning to the campground we went and checked out the walk-in sites at the cold springs campground. Walk in, hahahahahaha...... After a 1/4 mile schlep over a stream you find several really cute campsites that only crazy people could get to with all their gear. After a brief apology to those stuck there (because the campground was full by today at noon), we headed back to our campsite and then on a 1/2 mile round trip nature walk. It was a pretty pleasant way to go, but the altitude makes me light headed, and I have to carry Blake when he gets tired. so that dampens the enjoyment a bit.

This evening we had our traditional hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner cookout along with the gratuitous roasted marshmallows. Kyle was so excited and then ate only one and decided it was not for him and he'd rather watch a movie. Kids today.

Day 3

Today we decided that we'd had enough of sitting around camp and today we would head to town. We had to get ice anyways, and after realizing that the little store in Silver City didn't even sell firewood, we decided not to even ask about ice and just head to Three Rivers after breakfast. We did have a great breakfast of pancakes with raspberry syrup that we picked up at the Silver City Resort the day before. After breakfast we quickly got dressed and got in the car to head to town.

The View from the Gateway Restruant

An hour and a half later, we finally made it down the hill and into town. Our first stop was the main market in town to pick up some ice.... and of course some liquor. After the store we were all hungry so we looked around for a restaurant to eat lunch at. We decided on a place called The Gateway which is just about a quarter mile outside the main park entrance, where the East fork of the Kaweah meets up with the Middle Fork. I've driven by this place many times before and never stopped to eat before, and what a mistake that has been. First... the view from the restaurant is beautiful. It sits right on the shore with the a great view of the river and of the Pumpkin Hollow Bridge. Second, the food here is very good! It was not the best food I've ever had but it was a very tasty lunch, even Kyle and Blake finished their meals.

Getting ready to hike up Moro Rock.

After lunch Kyle wanted to get some ice cream, so we headed back towards town and stopped at Reimer?s Ice Cream Shop and picked up some ice cream for the whole family. Once we all had our ice cream we decided to drive up to Giant Forest and take in some of the sights up there. After our fun drive up to the top of the hill, we headed straight over to Moro Rock. When we got there we decided that heading up to Mineral King was not an entirely bad idea. The crowds here were amazing.... The small parking lot at the base of Moro Rock was full and cars were piled up along the sides of the road to park. Hiking up to the top of Moro Rock was a fun experience as well, seeing as how a large portion of the path is only wide enough for one person, so you had to wait as the people coming down would pass, so the crowd going up could then pass. At the top there was at least 50 people already there, with even more behind us coming up. Kyle made it to the top by himself, but Blake of course had to be carried (it is a 300 foot climb in elevation in a 1 mile path). The view up here was great, with a lot of snow still on the tops of the mountains, but before long the crowds started to get to me and we headed back down to our car.

For fun we decided to drive over to the Lodgepole campground to see how busy it was. The parking lot at the visitors center there was crammed full with cars and there were people everywhere. It probably would have been nicer for the kids to stay there, but I think the crowds would have driven me crazy. After our quick drive by of the area, we drove back down the winding road to Three Rivers to get gas, and then back up the road to Mineral King once again. Once there we immediately setup for dinner. During dinner Julie and I decided that we would head back home tomorrow, seeing as how the kids could only do so much "sitting around, doing nothing". It had been a fun trip, but not one that we would recommend for people with small children. Overall Mineral King is a nice place to visit for a day trip, anything longer and you need to be the real granola type... "extra crunchy" if you know what I mean.

At the Campfire Circle

To finish off the day we took the kids to a campfire program they were having on "Mountain Lions, Bears, and Marmots.. oh my!". It started at 8 pm and the kids were already a little nutty by the time we got there. After about a half an hour of being there (and having to explain to Kyle that Mountain Lions do not eat Zebras), we decided that it was time to take the kids back to camp. We started up another campfire for our last night there and let the kids roast a few marshmallows before going to bed.

Day 4

We got up and had a quick breakfast before breaking camp. It was an extremely cold morning, and Kyle and Blake were both very happy that we were going home today. We packed up what we could before taking down the tent, and then put the kids in the car to watch a movie on the portable DVD player while we finished packing up. We were on the road by 10 am and by 11:30 we were in Three Rivers. Not to miss out on some great ice cream, we stopped once again at Reimer's Ice Cream Shop. This time Julie tried my favorite, Three Rivers Mountain Blackberry and I got that along with some Rum Raisin (Note: If you are ever in Three Rivers, you must stop and get some Ice Cream... it is some of the best I have ever had!).

Lake Kaweah, filled to the rim.

To avoid the multiple traffic breaks, we headed straight out to the 99 and then south towards home. On the drive back Kyle said that he wanted to go back to Mexico and that it was too cold camping. I asked Blake if he had a good time and he said "Yes". I asked if he wanted to go back and he resoundingly said "No". No more camping trips for our kids for a while I guess, or at least none in such remote spots.


Must take more trips
Written by rreelfs on 2005-09-18 18:50:15
I tremendously enjoy your writing. Ouit your job and start witing books (Just kidding about the quitting the job,) but do think about writing.
Written by cmyles on 2005-07-05 14:36:23
It sounded like a nice camping trip, and if I ever go up that way I will definely stop be the ice cream shop. Nice pictures of trip, it really helped to see the hiking trail only big enough for one person, it sounded a lot worse then it looked.

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