Date: July 12, 2014
Place: Kings Canyon National Park, Fresno, California
Trailhead coordinates: 36.794351, -118.584361
Length: about 2 miles
"But you promised me a bear."
And we didn't see any. Not in Lassen Volcanic NP nor anywhere else along the way. In that note we finished the Northern California road trip we took last July with my sister and her family who were visiting us.
Just for the record, I didn't actually promise her a bear sighting. I merely suggested that there is a chance that we might come across one ... nevertheless, she was disappointed about not having seen one.
So after only two days at home we took to the road once more, to the one place where bear sighting was almost guaranteed: to Kings Canyon National Park. Specifically, to Zumwalt Meadow.
It was to be a short trip of 3 days only (2 nights camping) and without Papa Quail who had to go back to work.
Leaving on time is always a challenge for my family, and this trip was no different. We therefore, arrived at the campground at 11:00 pm and had to pitch our tents to the meagre beams of flashlights and carry sleeping children from the car straight into the sleeping bags. At least it wasn't cold.
We took our time in the morning, and then there was the long and spectacular drive to Zumwalt Meadows.
We embarked on our hike as planned, but I wasn't very hopeful about seeing any bears there.
My sister wasn't bothered the least bit. She, as well as her husband, were completely taken by the scenery.
The river itself wasn't running very high. The long drought was evident even here.
Four years ago, at that very point before crossing the bridge I had seen a mama bear with two young cubs pulling apart green pine cones and feeding on the unripe pine nuts. Me and my family had waited patiently for the bears until they went away.
|Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana)|
The trail descended into a grove of pines, many of which were badly burnt.
The undergrowth had many nice bushes, some were even blooming.
On of the most common shrubs there was the raspberry. And the vines were loaded with ripe berries.
Our hike came to a screeching halt and everyone got busy looking for berries. I tried to keep my little company from straying off the trail. Luckily the blackberry thorns were persuasive as well.
|Western Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis)|
|Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)|
|West Coast Goldenrod (Solidago elongata)|
|Fireweed (Chaemrion angustifolium)|
I was satisfies with looking for interesting phenomenons, such as this pine tree trunk, fused to a rock.
Eventually the trail descended toward the meadow and we had a nice view of the green flat, bordered by conifers. As hard as we looked, we saw no bears there.
We found a place to sit and enjoyed the view. I tired photographing some birds that were down by the river, but I don't have Papa Quail's patience and eventually I gave up.
A patch of milkweed came to view. I remembered that patch from previous visits and immediately veered off to look for monarch butterflies.
There were a few butterflies there. Not as many as I remembered, but still. I even managed to catch a few orange pixels the belong to speed-flying monarch.
The milkweed itself is a lovely sight. Very pretty flowers.
|Snowy Milkweed (Asclepia speciosa)|
|Leopard Lily (Lilium sp.)|
Our children did the same. We had a long and refreshing stop and the kids waded up and down the water, building pebble fortresses and looking for bugs.
The sun disappears early in a deep canyon. When it started getting cold we managed to pull the kids from the water and convince them to wear their shoes.
Back ob the trail we left the meadow tour right while the trail plunged into the trees once more.
Not used to the sight of squirrels, my sister and her family got all excited when they spotted one that was too busy dismembering a pine cone to worry about us.
Something must be said about the magic of little children because not even a minute goes by when my nephew points at the thicket and announced: bear.
And there it was: an adolescent bear feasting on raspberries.
|Roaring River Falls|