Kings Canyon/Sequoia Camp-out
Saturday–Monday, 14–16 Sep 2002
The 2002 camping trip looked to be a lonely one for a while. I got lots of questions leading up to the trip, but no one actually came out and said “I’m going.” I was beginning to think it would be another SMBC outing where I ride alone. That changed the Sunday before the trip when Dave Kerr spoke up. Then Helmut called on Tuesday and Fred finally got his act together Thursday.
Saturday morning Fred and I left the donut shop at 7:00 AM. We met Helmut and Dave at the Cozy Cup for breakfast.
After breakfast we gassed up and headed down highway 25. After a brief stop at the 25/198 junction to re-group we continued on through Coalinga to the 198/I5 junction where we took a rest break and a second gas stop. From there the road turned boring – a very straight shot into Visalia were we topped off our tanks one more time as the next gas stop was 2 days and about 170 miles away. Lunch was at the usual spot. The fish and chips haven’t changed.
After lunch we were off to find highway 245. In past years I’ve made an incorrect turn along the way, having to back track a short distance. However, I did not make that error this year. The fact that I saw Fred signing “go straight” in my mirrors had nothing to do with it, too. Highway 245 has more turns per mile than any other road I can think of. Highly enjoyable.
Highway 245 meets highway 180 5 miles or so from the entrance to the park. From the entrance its another 30 miles to the Sentinel camp ground where we picked two sites side-by-side and then headed off to the store about 1/2 mile away for beer, wood, snacks, etc.
With beer close by bikes could be unpacked and tents erected. With those small chores done the snacks were brought out to go with the beer: cheese, salami, crackers, nuts, other good stuff. Talk, food, beer, beautiful weather, great roads… what else could anyone ask for?
As it got darker thoughts turned to dinner. Dave broke out his package of sushi – just because one is camping doesn’t mean one cant eat well.
We weren’t that hungry having gone slightly overboard on the snacks; dinner was light. A typical camp-out evening followed dinner and clean-up. We sat around the campfire, enjoyed some more beer/wine/brandy, and told stories from our past. Well, Helmut told lots of stories. The rest of us listened.
The blue jays started screeching at each other about 6:15 Sunday morning. I got up and made a cup of espresso to get the juices flowing. Helmut was soon up, starting a pot of coffee. Breakfast (mainly scrambled eggs) was made and enjoyed by all. After breakfast we broke camp. Helmut was heading back to bay area as he had a golf date Monday. Dave, Fred, and I headed toward Sequoia for a second night of camping.
As we only had 60-70 miles to cover I intended to do lots of sightseeing. The first stop was at Boyden Cavern where Fred and I took the tour. At one point during the tour the turn off the lights while about 600 feet into the cavern. Very dark. Neat. But now I’ve been there and done that, so I won’t need to in future years.
The plans to stop at other touristy spots fell by the wayside on the way to the next campsite. The ride up the canyon was perfect with no traffic to speak of. Ditto for the ride down the Generals Highway into Sequoia park. We did stop briefly at Lodgepole to replenish the ice, beer, and snack supply. Once loaded up we continued down from the 6500 foot level to the 2800 foot level of the Buckeye Flat camp ground. Lots of 15 MPH hairpins. Fun.
Buckeye Flat is a small campground – 28 campsites – near the Kaweah river. The site we picked was about 25 yards from the river at a spot where the water was about 12-18 inches deep. Once putting some shorts on it felt great to wade into the river and splash some water, rinsing off the sweat and dust from the ride. Fred decided to walk across and then head down river for a bit before coming back. On the way back he found hole that was about waist deep. It didn’t seen to bother him too much.
Dinner was prepared and enjoyed before the sun went down. Clean up was made easy as there are two wash-basins in front of the lit restrooms. The only down side is lots of flys, gnats, bees, and other annoying flying things. A little insect repellant helped, but they didn’t really disappear until the sun went down and we started a campfire. We hit our tents about 10:00 PM.
Monday morning we had some coffee then broke camp, leaving sometime around 8:30. We stopped for gas on the way into Visalia. Once in Visalia I found that the restaurant I’d picked for breakfast was a) now named something other than I recall, and b) closed. A couple of miles later we found a great place on Main street, Cafe 225. Excellent breakfast. We’ll stop there again.
From Visalia it was the quick and boring ride home; 198 to I5 to 152 to 101, etc. Dave went directly from I5 to 152. Fred and I stopped in Santa Nella for gas and a brief respite from the superslab laying on a bit of lawn in the shade in front of Andersons. We were back on the road around 1:00 PM. I was home in San Mateo before 3:00.
A great trip. I think I’ll plan on doing the same next year, but taking in different tourist sites between Kings Canyon and Sequoia. Come join me.