Rob of the Redwoods
My ongoing adventures in forest and wildland protection, conservation, advocacy, restoration, recreation, and reconnection, in the redwoods, and beyond.
Rob is originally from Utica, Ny. He has a MS from Syracuse University. He now calls Arcata, Ca his home. He is a California Forest and Wildlife Advocate.
” I have places to go and a forest to keep, and miles to go before I sleep “
“In the vast Sierra wilderness far to the southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is a yet grander valley of the same kind.”–John Muir, writing of Kings Canyon National Park, in, A Rival to Yosemite.
There are three things I should absolutely know by now: always listen to the mountains instead of listening to people, the mountain passes always have lessons to teach, and never, ever, underestimate a mountain. The mountains were calling me, that was clear; the mountains of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, the lesser known wonder as compared to its sister to the north, Yosemite National Park, but in many respects equally, if not more so, magnificent and sublime.
When scrambling to reboot my much-backloaded vacation as a consequence of wildfires in the Klamath Mountains, Kings Canyon, and most specifically, the Rae Lakes Basin area jumped to the forefront of my gotta-go-back list. When I cruised through two summers ago while on a hybrid Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail section-hike, I was hampered by the need to cover major miles in short periods, and a myriad of largely self-induced albeit necessary personal life distractions that combined to make it difficult to really be there and experience it all as I would have liked. I was determined not to let that happen this time, and in my planning, I wanted to ensure plenty of space for the experience of the place rather than having to just crush through to make my miles.
I reserved a ten-day permit and scheduled for pick-up the morning the permit became effective, and just about eighteen hours after appearing in my monkey-suit and penguin shoes outfit in front of a regulatory board in Sacramento, some six hours driving north of my entry point, Onion Valley Trailhead outside of Independence, CA. Carrying what was likely the heaviest pack I’ve ever carried due to the duration without a resupply, sorely out-of-shape, and having jumped straight out of my car onto the trail and up beyond 10,000′ elevation, I was glad to only be hiking three miles and not attempting an ascent over Kearsarge Pass on my first day.
Gilbert Lake, on the back side of Kearsarge Pass, on the John Muir Wilderness side of life, was my first night’s destination. From there, it was up and move early in an effort to ascend up and over the backside of Kearsarge Pass and into Kings Canyon National Park, and eventually, to Charlotte Lake, my night-two destination.
I was up and on the trail before 8 a.m., and climbing the entire two-and-a-half-miles in two-and-a-half-hours, sucking wind, stopping to breathe, and to take in the breathtaking scenery below I would now leave behind as I hit the summit of Kearsarge Pass at 11,760′ elevation, entering Kings Canyon National Park, and over the backside, covering five-and-a-half miles before setting up my camp on a lovely rock-outcropping overlooking scenic and lush Charlotte Lake and its surrounding environs, which included the backside of Vidette Meadow. It was at Charlotte Lake that the sobering realities of the late-lingering hoards of mosquitoes began to take hold; at Charlotte, as everywhere else, as soon as the sun went behind the mountains, usually around 6:30 p.m., the mosquitoes became so intolerant and voracious that I was simply forced to hold-up in my tent and watch the rest of the evening’s twilight from that relative safety.
The next morning (to continue reading click or tap-HERE)