For a much needed break, at least for me (but probably for all of us), BEG came for a visit and we went on a camping/hiking/backpacking expedition with the Fire Chief for a week in Kings Canyon National Park.
For some reason the Fire Chief and I always seemed to be matching...
After being warned about "winter conditions" persisting in most of the Park, we decided to do half of the Rae Lakes Loop, choosing to head into the back country via Mist Falls and Paradise Valley. Indeed water levels were high, making "stream" fording extra scary and challenging. Mist Falls was misty as usual, and we made our first camp at Lower Paradise Valley.
Our camp site was lovely, and a herd of deer came to hang out (stalk) for quite some time. So much time, in fact, that they were there always. We later learned that the deer like to eat your socks at night if you leave them out to dry after a full day of hiking. Apparently they like the salt. We put our socks away.
Who me? I'm not looking for anything... you don't happen to have any tasty socks by any chance, do you?
On the second day of our adventure we were en route to Woods Creek Crossing for camp, and were passed by an actual mule train. The pack leader was not particularly friendly, and later, on our return, we found the trail was loaded with mule train poop.
Perhaps it was because the water level was unusually high this year after we finally had some decent winter snow pack, but I am still not entirely sure what idiot would try to head out to the falls on this rock?
A really gorgeous valley that we strolled through after quite an extended climb up and up and up (there was more up to come).
Looking towards more up from the valley, we were soon to encounter a grouse on the trail. I tried to convince it that it wanted to trot over into our campfire later that night to provide us a delicious meal, but it just stared at me with beady eyes and never came.
Our camp at Woods Creek was quite spectacular, and an interesting thing happened up there. After locking our food "safely" in the bear locker, I went back to get my toothbrush and a mouse came running out after getting caught in the beam of my headlight. Sure enough we found that the sneaky little bastard had eaten through the bags of food that we had not put back into the bear-canister, which we were required to carry with us. This resulted in the re-naming of the bear-canister as the mouse-canister, stuffing our food in that, then putting it back into the bear locker so as not to loose our breakfast...
My favourite rock on the trek down from Mist Falls, with a fabulous U-shaped valley in the background. This was our fourth day, at the beginning of which we were greeted by BEG's new sweater having been partially consumed during the night by a marmot, and at the end of which we successfully had backpacked 30 miles. Beers and a shower were in order.
The next day, to keep things light, we decided on a 10 mile day trip on the Redwood Mountain Loop, which is actually a combination of trails from the Redwood Saddle trailhead.
As expected, we found enormous red-barked giant Sequoia trees, which never cease to amaze me.
Another remarkable fact is that the size of a Sequoia pine cone is maybe only 2 or 2.5 inches long, while a Sugar Pine cone is about a FOOT long!!! We thought it would be funny to stick a full size Sugar Pine cone in this little sapling...
Among the trees other interesting plants were also encountered. This "flower-mushroom" looking thing is a Snow Plant, which is a decomposer like a mushroom, but apparently is considered part of the blueberry family???
I have no idea what this pretty flower is, but I thought it, and the beetle on it, were a good target for a photo.