We spent this last weekend in Sequoia National Park with a couple of friends. Not everything about the camping trip went according to plan, but it was wonderful all the same.
We arrived late Friday night to Potwisha Campground, unloaded the car, and set up. As is the norm on our camping trips, we brought plenty of good campfire food and lots of wood and kindling, all of which went unused because it turned out there was a campfire ban in the campground. That’s right, no fires allowed. Only propane and natural gas camp stoves were allowed, and of course we don’t have one of those.
We decided to just go to sleep (it was already 1 am) and figure out the eating situation the next day. We had a hike planned to Eagle Lake. In the morning we got up, made do without coffee, and had some pastries and fruit for breakfast. With lots of water, snacks, and PB & Js packed, we headed off for the hike.
The road up to Mineral King Valley was a lot longer and more windy than any of us expected. Spirits were flagging when we finally arrived, but the scenery in the valley instantly put everyone in a better mood. The Modern Hiker article described Mineral King Valley as “sublime” and I think there is no better word for it. It was just incredible.
We found the trailhead and set off on the hike. It wasn’t long before the altitude started affecting us and we were all winded. By the last mile of the hike, I was pretty dizzy and had to make frequent stops to catch my breath. It was all worth it once we reached the lake, though. The water was absolutely crystal clear, and not as cold as we expected – even though there was snow still on some of the surrounding slopes.
We wet our feet and legs, rested, and had our snacks by the side of the lake. Anna took a dip. Once we were rested up, we headed back down. The hike down was so much easier than the way up. I had to stop a few times for some photos, especially when a family we passed pointed out a sage grouse by the side of the trail.
When we got back down to the valley, the air was that perfect mountain summer evening temperature that feels like the whole world is holding you gently. Everything smelled like clean, high places and earth. I would happily spend weeks and weeks up in Mineral King Valley.
In order to get back to the campsite, we had to actually exit Sequoia National Park, drive through the town of Three Rivers, and then re-enter. As we drove back, tired, dusty, and hungry, we discussed the food situation. We had no way to cook the food we had brought. Why not just…grab a pizza as we drove through town?
So we did just that and everyone was happy. And that was how our camping trip turned into a glamping trip.
We also managed to toast a marshmallow and make a single s’more over a little candle Anna made out of Babybell cheese wax and a match. Don’t tell the National Park Rangers about that one.
On Sunday, we visited General Sherman and paid our respects before driving back down into the valley, through the Grapevine, and into LA once again. Back to the smog and back to our offices.