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Sequoia National Park -- May 17, 2012
Sequoia National Park

Day 5
Liz spending part of "One Day on Beetle Rock"

Day 5. May 17, 2012. Lodgepole Camp to Buckeye Flat Camp.

Our last day in the Giant Forest area, we started leisurely with a nice camp breakfast and a hot shower for Liz. After packing camp, we headed back to Crescent Meadow because it is beautiful and we had many memories from there.

Just before reaching Crescent Meadow, we saw a California Gray Squirrel perched atop a boulder on the edge of the road. We stopped to photograph him, and to our surprise, another ran across the road in front of us. Then another, and a third ran across the road. Finally, our friend atop the rock joined the parade. I imagine the first was a female in heat, and the other three were male suitors. We got some good photos before they disappeared over the hill with the female still in the lead.

Day 5
Tunnel Log: remembering a proud day as a ranger

As we arrived at Crescent Meadow parking area, we were greeted by a big Western Rattlesnake! It was a big, strong snake, but it didn't stay around long for our photos as it dashed for a culvert under the road. We tried to pull it out, but it would have nothing of it. What a treat to see a rattlesnake at this elevation (about 6,800 ft)!

We walked slowly around the meadow, pausing often to admire the giant Sequoia trees, to photograph Douglas Squirrels and Pileated Woodpeckers, and of course to feed our fish. We didn't feed them a few days ago, so we made up for it this time catching flying insects and big carpenter ants for them. They seemed to appreciate the treats as they leapt to the surface to catch the treats.

Day 5
Giant Forest

As we were nearing the end of the loop trail, two park employees told us to watch out for a rattlesnake along the trail! Watch we did. We found the beautiful beast a few feet off the trail and shot dozens of photos and lots of video as it moved along. It was aware of our presence, but never detoured from its path, only occasionally buzzing briefly to let me know to stay back. We watched our scaly friend for at least an hour as it made its way along the path. Eventually, it crossed the loop trail and started up a hill that would take it so warm, south-facing slopes. It was truly amazing to watch a big, heavy-bodied snake for so long as it moved single-mindedly in one direction.

After all that excitement, we returned to the car for lunch. To our surprise on such a surprise-filled day, nobody came to join us for lunch. After eating, with about 40 minutes before our scheduled departure time, we made a quick jaunt up Bobcat Point. It turns out this is where our scaly friend was heading, but we never saw it again.

Day 5
Crescent Meadow

Back at the car, we departed Giant Forest and headed down the hill. We made it to the construction roadblock on time, but there was a delay, and we sat for half an hour longer than expected. No worse for wear, we stopped at Buckeye Flat Campground for the night. The campground was full of California Ground Squirrels, so it is a bubonic plague waiting to happen, but it was also full of American Robins singing on territory and Brown-headed Cowbirds waiting for the warblers to arrive.

After dinner, Liz relaxed in camp and I took a 4-mile jaunt in the failing light. After making my destination (Middle Fork Trailhead) well after sunset, I double-timed it back down the road, arriving in camp just at dark as another great day was coming to a close.

Day 5
Making friends with a local rattlesnake
Day 5
Jim and Liz: one last stop at Bobcat Point
Day 5
Buckeye Flat Campground
Day 5
Sunset on the high peaks above Middle Fork, Kaweah River

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120519

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