Camping

Camp Wishon

by Alyssa on December 4, 2011

in Camping, Exploration, Hiking

I’m back! Well, I’ve been back since last Sunday but my routine is only now returning to normalcy.

We left the Sunday before Thanksgiving on our traditional Thanksgiving camping trip to Camp Wishon in Sequoia National Forest. We were the only campers at the campground during this visit. It made for some very dark and quiet nights.

Camp Wishon is located along the Tule River, so we were serenaded by the sound of rushing water throughout our stay.

It was raining when we arrived, but luckily we made it to camp during the daytime this year. It continued to rain as we set up camp, made a campfire, made and ate dinner, and then settled in for the night. Luckily, the skies cleared the next morning, but there was snow topping the trees above us and frost covering all surfaces.

This is a picture of our bear box, where we store our food. We’ve never seen any bears in this area and we’d like to keep it that way! Once, we saw a fox on our drive up and we hear the occasional birds, but it is otherwise eerily devoid of signs of animal life when we visit. This may be because of the cold weather.

After assembling and packing a lunch of veggie, cheese, and ham wraps, we set off on our hike.

This fork in the trail is located about 1.5 miles into the trail. We always head upwards toward the upstream fishing spot, but one day I hope to explore the downward trail.

We follow the Tule River throughout the trail. At some points, we go deep enough into the mountain that we lose the sound of the river.

We stopped for lunch near a waterfall and I noticed what looked like red berries all over the foliage. It turned out to be thousands of ladybugs, which really freaked me out. I’m not a fan of bugs and swarms of them creep me out.

We rounded a corner and came upon this snow-covered hill.

And we kept walking into more snow.

We finally came to the crossing of the trail and the Tule River. This is the farthest we had come so far on our three trips to Camp Wishon. We were following the closest thing we could find to a trail map, which told us that if we crossed the Tule River, we would be rewarded with seeing a copper mine and miner’s cabin.

But due to the previous day’s heavy rainfall, the river was running high and swift, not to mention really cold.

So we pulled off our socks and boots, rolled up our pants and thermal underwear, and forded the river barefoot. Once across, we let our feet dry in the sun, put on our socks and boots, and saw this mine.

Following the trail directions, we climbed upwards along a steep and narrow path that was slippery because it was covered in snow and leaves. Then we encountered this fallen log (at the top of the photo). Because the mountainside we were walking along dropped off at such a steep angle, the trunk of the fallen tree was too large around, and we couldn’t ensure the stability of the fallen tree trunk, we decided it was safest to turn around at this point. We were only about a quarter of a mile away from the miner’s cabin!

A parting shot of the tree trunk that conquered us. This picture is blurry because after attempting to climb over the tree trunk, then trying to scramble up the mountainside to cross the tree trunk at a higher point, I was winded and my exhausted breath kept fogging up the camera lens.

We turned around and took the same route back down the trail, crossing the freezing cold river again.

These small red lizards are found around the day use parking lot.

The clouds started to come in as we neared the end of our hike.

This is the GPS map of our hike (you’ll need to zoom in towards the left of the map). This description of the hike that we use calls the hike easy, but I would call this a moderate to difficult hike during the Fall, when the fallen leaves, rain, and snow make the trail very slippery. No, I wouldn’t even call this hike easy during a dry season because there are so many obstacles along the path. We’ve been hiking this trail since 2008 and we have to crawl under and climb over the same fallen logs that obscure the path year after year. The trail climbs about 1500 feet in elevation from the start of the trail to the copper mine. The trail is often narrow with a steep drop to one side, there are bushes and branches that often smack us in the face and attempt to trip us as we walk, there are rocks embedded in the trail that have led to the both of us falling several times, and there are some sections where we are required to jump over small streams or climb up and down boulders.

The campground usually has a camp host to check on campers, but we did not encounter one one this visit. The campsites aren’t spaced too closely to each other and each contains a fire ring, picnic table, and bear box. There are bear-proof trash cans and recycle bins available, as well as water spouts. There are vaulted toilets, which are simply enclosed Port-a-Potties (they do not flush and do not use water). There is no electricity at the campground.

 

Camp Wishon

36.1875, -118.6625
36°11’15″N, 118°39’45″W

 

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Homemade Firestarters

by Alyssa on November 16, 2011

in Camping, Exploration

I loved being a Girl Scout as a kid. Camping trips, singing songs, making crafts, eating snacks, and even selling Girl Scout Cookies were all part of the experience and I loved all of it. Unfortunately, these days I haven’t retained much of what I learned in my seven years of scouting, but I do remember making firestarters.

I think the only reason I remember making these firestarters is because one primary ingredient is dryer lint, which I found unusual. Actually, I still find it very unusual because it means that dryer lint is really flammable and since it comes off the clothes we wear, this alarms me. So this past weekend, in anticipation of our Thanksgiving camping trip, I collected the lint from the dryers after we had finished doing our laundry.

I stuffed the lint into the pockets of an empty egg carton, melted some wax from candles that had long ago melted down, and poured the wax on top of the lint. When needed, you just tear off a pocket and set fire to it under your kindling. We’ve used them before and they’re great because they burn for a while, which is perfect if the weather has left your wood a bit damp. The forecast says that our camping destination has a 20% chance of snow the day we arrive, so we’re definitely going to need a huge blazing fire to warm us!

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