Moving to and living at Cedar Springs – Kings Canyon National Park

So after 2 1/2 weeks of living in the cabin, I was able to move my RV to “Cedar Springs”, the staff housing area for travel trailers and motorhomes. The winter snow had finally melted enough for us to get in there, but it was still pretty wet and muddy. I took a drive to Cedar Springs in my car so that I knew where I would be taking my RV so I could be prepared…….I was pretty shocked and baffled as to the condition of the road. Cedar Springs was only a mile from “Wormwood” but you first traveled up a single lane paved road, then you took a right onto a dirt road that had chuckholes that were full of water, a road that was so deteriorated that most of what had been a paved road was almost gone, with crevices and craters where winter melt runoff had been flowing. The road towards the end became a hill that you had to access to the left to get over. Once I reached the top of the hill I see three trailers that have permanent wooden snow shelters built over them. The third one had been not been built very well because it had collapsed on top of the travel trailer and damaged the trailer. Right after that in the middle was the “Bath House” which included a washer, dryer and 2 sets of bathrooms with showers. Right past the bathhouse was my RV space which was clearly very wet with watering run down through my space and the other 5 spaces beyond me. At the very end was the RV of Doug, one of our maintenance staff.  I was not impressed at all and actually a bit ticked off with what was apparently considered a suitable RV space for living. At this point, I am here and don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. I did like the fact that we were up in the woods where it was quiet and peaceful.

I then went and retrieved my RV and made my way up that awful road with my 34 foot RV. I took it really, really slow so that I did not fall into one of the ruts and get stuck, nor did I want to shake and rock my RV  so much to knock stuff out of my cupboards. I managed to make it and then I had JR and Doug the maintenance guys help me get backed in and somewhat level. I wasn’t really happy with where I was parked because I was literally sitting in a mud hole on the driver’s side. I stayed put for a couple of days and decided I had to do something different. I was not level enough which was causing my refrigerator not to work and I did not like being parked in the mud…..I really wanted to put some boards under my tires to get them up out of the mud and water. I sought out JR and Doug’s assistance again……I had to pull my RV forward but in doing so being in that mud and water and being on a bit of a slope my tires and RV were basically sliding and leaning…….I kept on the gas pulling myself out of it, but it scared the crap out of me the way my RV was leaning so far. We decided that I could not go back into that same spot, so we re-maneuvered where I backed in more to the left toward the bathhouse where the ground was a little higher up out of the mud and used a couple boards under the right driver side tires to get me more level. I still wanted to have boards under the other tires but I wasn’t able to deal with this whole situation on my own and JR and Doug were not willing to listen to me or help me address my concern, saying it was fine. So that is where my RV stayed for the next 6 months and things got better as it dried out. One other issue with moving the RV over was that my front door and step was right over some new root and leave growth from the tree I was parked near. About a week later I got the big hedge clippers from the maintenance shop and spent several hours clipping back all the roots and brush so I could access my front door easier and not trip or keep scratching my ankle on the brush.

Just a few days later the other RV spaces were occupied with 6 rental trailers out of Bakersfield, CA. As our season was ramping up these trailers would be additional housing space for staff, along with the two permanent trailers, my RV and Doug’s RV which was parked at the end of the campground.

A few weeks later in the middle of May, we had a couple of good snowstorms that left us with about 3 inches of snow. I grew up in snow country and loved it, but at my age now (60 years) I just am not interested in living or having to deal with snow. The snow we had leftover from the winter when I had arrived had pretty much all melted so I won’t lie about flipping out over these snowstorms. My car was not outfitted to be driving in the snow so the first storm we got I hopped a ride to work with maintenance and then walked the mile home after work. The day was sunny and nice, but I also did not have the proper shoes, and with my bad knees it was not fun. Over the next few days, I was pretty frazzled with trying to figure out how to get to and from work. I was feeling disappointed that I was being viewed as an inconvenience by a few coworkers who had the ability and the vehicles to pick me up for work and bring me home. I ended up getting a ride a couple mornings with Doug the maintenance guy who also lived at the staff trailer park, but I had to go in on his schedule and he usually gave me crap. My general manager gave me a ride home a couple times. I got to the point I hated feeling this way so two other co-workers were kind enough to put some cables on my car and shoveled me out so I could use my own car. I made it to work the next day in my car, but during the day another snow storm came in. So at the end of the workday, I was feeling confident about driving home because I had cables on my car. Well, I was doing just fine till I reached the top of the hill that you have to go over just before you reached the campground and I spun out and broke the cable. So there I was sitting at the top of that hill knowing I could not go forward and not sure I was going to even be able to back down the bill….plus this road is one lane, there is no room for another vehicle so I am now blocking the road for anyone else who may be becoming. I called Doug in maintenance and told him my situation and that I needed help. I got out of the car and saw the broken cable was wrapped around the tire. I managed to get it all untangled and removed. I then proceeded to see if I could back down which I was managing to do when Doug arrived. He shook his head at me and said: “why were you even trying to drive your car up here in this?” I said, “because you told me that if I just had cables for my car I would be just fine, so I got cables on and this is the result”. Between the two of us, we managed to get my car backed all the way down the hill and out to where there is a “Y” and a wide area where we could park my car. Doug said my car was staying there until all this went away, to get in his truck and he would get me to and from work. Within about 3 days the snow had all melted and I was able to drive my car again.  I was never so happy to have this week and a half of chaos over with.

Around June we had some tree cutters who were doing some contract work to cut down quite a few trees that had been damaged over the winter and trees that had become very damaged from bug infestation. The tree cutters camped in their tents for a couple weeks up where we lived in the trailer camp park at “Cedar Springs.” During this time we had bear encounters at the campground at least 3-4 times. It was a junior bear who I believe was lured in by the tree cutters camping…..there were the food smells from food storage and cooking. One of my co-workers living in one of the trailers just down from me saw him twice…..once when he was coming right out of his trailer and another time in the field behind his trailer. I saw him one day after work….. I was coming down close to my RV when I saw him walking across our little road to the tree cutters campsite. I stopped my car to get a picture of him through my window, but then at that same moment, I saw and heard one of the tree cutters truck come barreling down the road. I knew I had best get out of the way before he ran over me, he was going way to fast for this area. The bear continued to walk off to the side of the camp when the truck pulled into the area right where the bear was, while at that same time the bear took off running due to the rattling noise of the truck…….I really thought that the bear might get hit. I don’t think that guy driving the truck even saw him until after he had stopped and then saw the bear. Everything happened so fast…..I stepped out of my car as the guy was getting out of the truck and I asked him did you even see the bear? and I could see a look of surprise on his face and the way he said…..Wow, Yes!

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A bit earlier in the season, I had seen a black bear that looked like this one in our trailer campground. I had gotten up early to go into work and when I stepped outside my RV I saw him a bit of a distance off across the roadway near the woods where employees parked their cars. He was just slowing walking and then went in front of the cars. I thought he might come around and I could get his picture, but then I saw the back of him going towards the woods. I was a bit shocked seeing the bear, so I stayed right near my RV. I had not seen or been close to one in the wild before so I was taking precautions. I was bummed I did not get my own picture. The one I saw was about this size, no cub though and he had more blonde on his chest and more brown. This name, black bear can be misleading, as they may be black, brown, cinnamon, or even blonde in color.

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Day trip to Sequoia National Park

April 23rd I headed down the road to explore Sequoia National Park, which is the sister park right next to Kings Canyon National Park. If there were no signs indicating landmarks you would not even know when you are entering and exiting each park, they are sometimes looked as if they are one park.

This view shows one of the world’s largest groves of trees. Redwood Mountain Grove covers 5 square miles of more than 2,100 giant Sequoias trees that are larger than 10 ft in diameter.

Also here is the largest area of wilderness in the lower 48 states covering the span of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that includes both the National Forest and National Parklands.

Further along the General’s Highway through Sequoia National Park, I came across Clover Creek Bridge and Creek which is about a mile from the Wuksachi Lodge turnoff. Clover Creek Bridge is one of two bridges that were constructed in 1930. It is a concrete bridge with a masonry facade, giving it the appearance of a stone bridge which gave it a rustic style appearance that fits in with the surrounding area. There was a small pullout where I was able to park my car and go have a closer look. With it being late April I enjoyed seeing the creek while it was gushing from new snowmelt.

My next stop was the General Sherman Tree Trail. I took this trail which is a mile round trip. At the time I was researching information I found that the shuttle bus does not go to the lower trailhead until summer and I did not know that I could have gotten a handicap pass to put in my car and park in the handicap area because of my bad knees. If I had done that it would have been a much shorter and easier walk…..But I was determined that I wanted to see the General Sherman Tree so I made the hike from the main upper trail that sits at 7000-foot elevation, it is a paved, steep grade path with a few steps and bench seating along the way. There was still snow around and plenty of melting snow runoff.

About 3/4 of the way down you will come to a viewpoint where you can view the General Sherman Tree from a distance. With it being so tall its hard to get a photo when you are closer to it, so you can get a good photo of the whole tree from this spot. There are also benches to sit on and an interpretive sign here that tells you about the General Sherman Tree.

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When you finally make your way down to the General Sherman Tree there will be a lot of people lined up to take a photoshoot with the General. There is also a wooden fence around the perimeter of the tree to protect the shallow roots. As you continue walking there is a loop trail where you have the chance to see several other awesome trees, one being the massive fallen Sequoia that the trail goes through, two twin-trees, other Sequoias that have been burned or have interesting growths on them.

General Sherman Tree was named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman…..this trees claim to fame as the biggest tree in the world comes from the volume of its trunk. Some trees are taller, but no other tree has more wood in its trunk. General Sherman stands 275 feet tall and is over 36 ft in diameter at the base. It is believed to be 2,200 years old and weighs about 1,385 tons. The Sherman tree top is dead, so it no longer gets taller, but its trunk keeps increasing. Each year the trunk grows wider, adding enough wood to equal another good-sized tree.

The next stop was the Giant Forest Museum, which to me was not really a museum. Here you are able to talk with rangers about the Sequoias and hiking in the area. It also has a small gift shop and the rest is a display that shares the story of the Giant Forest and Giant Sequoia Trees. The village market building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places began renovations in 1999 and was converted to a museum and visitors center which was completed in the summer of 2001. The Sentinel which stands directly in front of the Giant Forest Museum is the 13th largest tree in Giant Forest, but the 21st largest in Sequoia National Park.

 On the way back I stopped and took some pictures of the Marble Fork Kaweah River…..So pretty.

And finally here are just some other random nature pictures I saw on my drive

 

Arrival to Kings Canyon National Park – April 2019

I left Phoenix, AZ on April 6, 2019, to head to Kings Canyon National Park where I would be starting a new job as Cash Auditor for 6 months. I found that my friend Chris, who had been living in California near Visalia for a while was still in the area and was heading out soon so I stopped and spent one night at the KOA near Visalia to see her. I had not seen her in about a year so it was good to catch up.

I pulled out of the KOA April 9th with a forecast of snow expected. I called Kings Canyon to get a more accurate weather report…..I was told it was not snowing at the moment and if it did it proably would not stick around. Well, I did not want to have to contend with snow at all in a 34-foot motorhome towing a car. The drive took me almost an hour going from less than 1,000 ft to 6500 ft at Grant Grove Village and all uphill on a two-lane, winding road. The going was slow…..but I finally made it, checked in and was told I could park my RV at the bottom of the small hill to the staff housing called “Wormwood.” There was still about 2 1/2 feet of snow on the ground and it was going to be a couple weeks before the staff campground would be free of snow. So in the meantime, I would be staying in one of the cabins, which turned out to be more rustic than I anticipated but I knew it would be temporary. I got my key to cabin #10….it was a short walk from the parking area. Most of the walk area was clear of snow except for a few patches. There were some clumps of snow on the cabin steps and I knew once the evening came it was going to ice up, so I asked the maintenance guy if there was a shovel and if we could get the snow off the steps to the cabin. He took care of that for me and I got a few things from my RV and brought to my cabin. The cabin was small with two twin beds and two locker units at the end of the one twin bed for clothes and personal items. One of the locker units had the two nightstands stored in it. I did not feel like dragging them out, so I used the other one that did not have to much stuff in it except for a few odds and ends.  I got a rag and started wiping and cleaning the locker, and swept the floor. The weather was not to bad during the day, but once the sun started going down it got pretty cold. Each cabin had one heater to use because that is all the breakers could handle, otherwise, the breakers would pop, which did eventually happen a few times over the course of the two and a half weeks I ended up being there. The heater helped somewhat, but it was still pretty cold since the cabins were not insulated at all…..they really were not intended for people to stay in during the winter, but there was only so much housing available. We had a common area not far from my cabin that had a kitchen along with two washers and dryers. On each side of the kitchen area outside were the men and women’s bathrooms and showers….. men to the left and women to the right. In the pictures below I have marked my cabin with an “Orange X” and the kitchen and bathroom building with a “Yellow X”

My first day of work was April 12th, so I had a couple days to get acquainted with things and do a little adventuring. My first outing was an eight-mile drive to Hume Lake and General Grant Tree which I have written about in a different blog post.

Hume Lake beginnings go back to the mid to late 19th century. During the 1800s the United States government began selling federal government land to the public. In 1888, two men,  Hiram Smith, and Austin Moore bought thousands of acres of timber for logging the giant redwood trees. They formed the King’s Canyon Lumber Company and began business. After experiencing financial problems, the company was reorganized & renamed the Sanger Lumber Company. By 1905, the Sanger Lumber Company began to decline once again, so the company was sold. Ira Bennett & Thomas Hume then bought the company and land together. Bennette & Hume decided they needed to move the mill operations to be profitable. The mill was moved four miles east to Long Meadow. The water from Long Meadow and Ten Mile Creeks was used to form an artificial body of water, which is now Hume Lake to store & transport the timber. Once again though, the company ran into problems and eventually closed its doors in 1924 because of a lack of profits and a large fire that destroyed over half a million dollars in lumber. The land was sold back to the government and on January 9, 1946, a group of Christian men opened the Hume Lake Christian Camp on 320 acres of lakeshore property.

 

 

 

Phoenix Zoo (April 6, 2019)

Visting the Phoenix Zoo was my last outing before leaving for Kings Canyon National Park to work for the season. I went with my friend, Mayshla who I know originally from Washington, but has been living here in Phoenix for the last few years.  We found the Phoenix Zoo to be very enjoyable and had great animals.

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The Phoenix Zoo opened in 1962 and is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States.  Founded by Robert Maytag, a member of the Maytag family, operates on 125 acres of land in the Papago Park area of Phoenix caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species, including many threatened/endangered species.

Admission for adults is $24.95, but you can save $1.00 if you buy online.