Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Kings Canyon National Park Quickie

 Waning Crescent Moon

What did I learn from my trip to Kings Canyon and back this week? I learned that the first week of August is probably not the best time for me to visit what is a very beautiful and, under normal circumstances, kickback national park. Going from 200 feet above sea level with temperatures in the mid 70's to low 80's over Pacheco Pass into the parched 100 degree Great Central Valley in a no-AC 1987 truck with a questionable water pump was one thing. Climbing up past 6,000 feet through hazy skies and upper 80's was another. 

But none of that physical adjustment stuff is why I only stayed a couple of days instead of my planned four. No, there was more to the story than that. I won't dive right into that part right away because there were several pleasant things I would rather talk, or write, or think about.

I arrived at the Moraine Campground, site #92 almost exactly at noon, which happens to be the prescribed check-in time, figuratively patting my self (and Spugly) on the back for being such a good citizen. I didn't spend much time there, though. By 1:00 I was pulling into the parking lot for the Roaring River Falls Trail, a paved tourist trail that leads up to - you guessed it - Roaring River Falls. I was surprised that it looked like this, given the time of year and the sparse 2021 snowpack. I enjoyed the cooling mist immensely plus the people who were there were really polite, sharing spaces, considerately moving out of the way when other folks were taking pictures, being quiet. 

After soaking in the falls and the small river for a while, I took an easy (dirt and rocks) side trail toward Zumwalt Meadow. This trail was somewhat parallel to the South Fork of the Kings River. There were great canyon and river views, the rocks were complexly tortured in places, and although much of the area had recently burned, the vegetation had recovered spendidly.

I returned the same way I came, satisfied with a couple of easy hours of walking. Even though it was pretty hot and the elevation took its toll on my system, I felt great and went back to the falls for one more look. Hopefully, the link I attached will show you a quick video of Roaring River Falls from Monday, August 2, 2021.  Try it, you'll like it.

Back at the campground, I set up my tent and put my food and other smellables in the metal bear locker, just like I have done hundreds if not thousands of times. I brought a folding chair with me on this trip, my one luxury item, and relaxed with my book, a snack, and a big bottle of water to rehydrate. It was then that I began to understand that what I had thought was Moraine Campground, named after the geology term for an accumulation of glacial till (rocks and stuff previously carried and deposited there by a long-gone glacier), was actually Moron Campground, named after a few hundred drunkish goobers from who knows where. They were intensely being loud and rude, employing every conceivable suburban camping contraption which filled up each and every bit of their spaces. 

Perhaps it was my lack of contraptions or the silence of my book, but it only took a few pages before the first rude, bald, sweaty, shirtless goober staggered right through my campsite on his way to the restroom. It was like I wasn't there. On his way back (there were two obvious paths that lead to the restrooms, but morons and goobers are famous for simply not giving a sh^t), First Goober acknowledged my presence by blurting these words: 

"Are you all alone?" 

On his splotchy, sunburned, bloated face was a look of complete astonishment. 

On my tired, old, salty, annoyed face was a look of complete disbelief. 

Fact one: the campground, with > 100 spaces, was full. Fact two: there were more people crammed into the campground than I see on any day of the week at home. I replied by blurting these words:

"Hell no, looks to me like there are people everywhere you look around here."

First Goober stared at me for a minute and just kept on staggering. I watched him go back to his camp. There must have been $200,000 worth of vehicles parked there. Who on Earth would pay that moron to do anything? 

More rude, lazy people traipsed through my camp as the evening wore on. They ignored me and I did my best to ignore them. I cold-soaked some brown rice and dined on cold rice and pink-salmon-from-a-foil-pouch. It was delicious and nourishing and soon, after disposing of my trash in the bearproof dumpster, washing my spoon and bowl, and brushing my teeth at the sink behind the restroom, I was ready for the sack. I left the rain cover off the tent so I could see some stars when they came out. It was warm and still and I was certain it would not rain. 

I drifted off to sleep just before dark, but soon I was awakened by moronic goobers running through my campsite shouting strange, loud syllables in the direction of my neighbors across the one-lane road from me. It sounded something like "AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH!" coming from deep in their sweaty bare chests. Then car horns from all over the campground started blaring and music was urgently playing at full volume - different kinds of music with different beats. Pots were being beaten with metal objects and female morons were screaming bloody murder. Confusion reigned. "AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH!" 

I sat up and watched, unsurprised. I knew what was going on. People who had no idea how to camp in bear country had royally screwed up once again, goober-moron-style. The goobers left food out, unattended, where bear could smell it and mosey over to get it, then said goobers and their goober buddies went into a rage. It was like the Commie Pinkos had landed in Kings Canyon, California on their watch and it was the goobers' patriotic, drunken duty to chase the godless fruitcake bear off the planet. If it wasn't so stupid and sad it would have been funny. 

The same thing happened in different parts of the campground five or six more times in the next hour or two. I didn't even bother to sit up again. 

When I got up at first light, I walked to the bathroom and surveyed the previous night's damage. About thirty feet from the bearproof dumpster is an ash can. It's like a trash can, but it is clearly marked as a receptacle for ashes. There is a big sign written in simple English stating what an ash can is and what a trash dumpster is. There is a shovel hanging from the sign. Presently, campfires are not allowed in the park, for reasons obvious to any non-moron, so you would expect ash cans to be empty.  

But noooo, ash can look like trash can to moron. Moron dump trash in ash can. Moron say to himself, "Me save at least thirty steps. Me smart moron!"

So bear tumped over the ash can and had a little quick feast on ice cream and doritos wrappers until all the "AHHHH" galootin' goobers came lumbering over and the horns started blaring and the women started screaming and the booming cacophony finally broke up the party. Did the goobers stop to clean up the mess so it wouldn't happen again? Of course not! They "AHHHH"ed their way back to their beer coolers and left the garbage strewn all over the road. That is, until the next morning at first light when All Alone Guy scooped it up with his Caltrans volunteer trash picker into a thirty gallon Hefty bag and tossed it into the bearproof dumpster. 

I freakin' HATE the Moron Campground. I packed up and left right after breakfast. 

Thirty miles from the M.C. is Grant's Grove, which early in the morning is a lovely place to putz around the hiking trail with hangoverless families and sober tourists from countries that are not hellbent on the Apocalypse. It was absolutely delightful and the General Grant Tree rocks!

Almost equally impressive are the fallen Sequoias that provide insight to how mighty they once were and how life-giving, through their decomposition, they still are to other creatures. The Fallen Giant and the Old Monarch are fascinating to see. After spending quality time walking through the Grant's Grove, I was almost healed from the previous night's encounter with imbeciles.

On my way out of the park I stopped to hike for an hour or so on the aptly named Big Stump Trail. As long as you don't stop to think about how insane it was to chop down these trees, you can appreciate the size of the stumps and the beauty of the trees even in death. One of the stumps is named for Mark Twain. It comes equipped with a ladder so you can climb up and walk around on it like a stage. That particular Giant Sequoia was murdered so that a cross-section of the tree could be cut and shipped back East to a museum. Evidently, folks back East did not believe the stories that described the great size of the Sequoias. So by golly, they had to be showed. 

Somehow, Spugly survived the trip back across the Central Valley and over Pacheco Pass back home to just east of East of Eden. I am glad I went but gladder I am back. 

Peace, Love, and Save our Parks from Morons,

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