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Sequoia National Park -- May 2012
Memory Lane was Filled with Bears
Sequoia National Park

During mid-May, Liz and I went to Sequoia National Park for a week of camping, hiking, and birdwatching. The trip was a stroll down memory lane for us, as we had worked there during the five summers of 1982-1986 as Seasonal Rangers. Since then, however, we had never been back before now. It was nice to be back, and we were proud to have done our part in protecting this wonderful place. Map of the trip.

After some 25 years, some things were the same, some things were different. The trees, meadows, and birds were still here. One of the main differences, however, was the bears. Before, bears were a constant source of irritation, property damage, and incident reports as they stole campground food, broke into cars for food, and generally created a nuisance. This time, we saw lots of bears in the woods doing what bears do naturally: things like eating grass in the meadows, nursing young, and of course, yes: pooping in the woods.

Day 1
First time back since 1986

Day 1. May 13, 2012. Home to Sequoia NP, Potwisha Campground.

We had what seemed like a quick and easy 7-hr drive from home to Sequoia National Park. The drive was pleasantly uneventful, and we arrived mid-afternoon at Potwisha Campground.

Potwisha, at 2,000 ft elevation, is located in low-elevation foothills. We birded the campground, walked a short bit of trail, and took a quick dip in the icy Kaweah River before retiring for the night as a Western Screech Owl called from a nearby tree.

Day 2
Crescent Meadow: many fond memories

Day 2. May 14, 2012. Sequoia NP, Potwisha Camp to Lodgepole Camp.

We got up fairly early and birded up along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, then headed for Lodgepole Campground at 7,000 feet elevation. After setting camp, we drove to Crescent Meadow, an area with fond memories, and spent the afternoon hiking and birding. After dinner, we saw a bear along the road to Moro Rock, which we climbed to watch the sunset.

Day 3
Our old cabin site: many fond memories here too

Day 3. May 15, 2012. Lodgepole Camp to Lodgepole Camp.

After another of Liz's fine camp breakfasts, we headed over to see the General Sherman Tree: the largest tree on planet Earth. After visiting this and other big trees, we stopped by our old cabin. It was gone, but it was nice to visit the site of so many fond memories.

After lunch, we headed back into the Giant Forest and spent the afternoon hiking the Hazelwood and Circle Meadow trails. We encountered our second bear: a momma and cub, several deer, and lots of birds. After dinner, we couldn't let a few moments of daylight go unused, so we hiked up the Tokopah Falls above the campground, getting back to camp just as the last light was fading.

Day 4
Liz at Dorst Campground

Day 4. May 16, 2012. Lodgepole Camp to Lodgepole Camp.

We visited to Dorst Campground in the morning where Liz had worked two summers so long ago. The campground was still closed for the winter, but we had a nice hike down memory lane, which again was cluttered with bears.

Back at camp for lunch, momma bear with two cubs ambled in to join us, but with camera in hand, we chased them back into the woods. Momma let me know that enough was enough with loud huffing and a short false-charge. After lunch, we hiked the Congress Trail and saw another bear. Back in camp for the night; yet another bear came by camp intent on eating as much grass as possible before I bothered it too much.

Day 5
Bobcat Point: one last stop in the Giant Forest
Day 5. May 17, 2012. Lodgepole Camp to Buckeye Flat Camp.

Our last day in the Giant Forest, we headed back to Crescent Meadow. No bears this time, but we saw California Gray Squirrels, two big Western Rattlesnakes, lots of Douglas Squirrels and Pileated Woodpeckers, and of course, we fed our fish.

After lunch, with about 40 minutes before our scheduled departure, we made a quick jaunt up Bobcat Point. Back at the car, we departed Giant Forest and headed down the hill to Buckeye Flat Campground (about 3,000 ft). The campground was full of California Ground Squirrels, American Robins singing on territory and Brown-headed Cowbirds waiting for the warblers to arrive.

Day 6
Heading down the hill on the way home

Day 6. May 18, 2012. Buckeye Flat Camp to Home.

We took a short hike down to the river, broke camp, visited Hospital Rock and a Red-shouldered Hawk nest, then headed for home.

It had been a good trip refreshing memories from long ago, back when we were young and wild and freshly in love.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120517

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