Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, State & National Parks
A Bear in the Woods
Several years ago our summer road trip took us to several California campgrounds and Sequoia National Park. Terry had been there in an earlier life but the kids and I had never seen the giant sequoias and he was excited to show them to us. We reserved our campsite in Lodgepole Campground in the park months ahead of time and upon the appointed day, headed out.
When we finally arrived, we were disappointed with the campground and our site. We were still tent camping at that time so we didn’t need a lot of room but all of the sites are very close together. Our tent site was very rocky, full of large boulders, and we had a giant motor home situated right next to us, looming over our poor tent with its generator running it seemed every minute we were at our site. That constant hum began to infect my psyche. I was hearing it even when we were away from camp.
As we had traveled from another campground and left early in the morning we were looking forward to hot showers when we arrived. However, at $4 apiece, the cost adds up quickly. Nonetheless, the first night we showered and made dinner, determined to make the best of the situation. We poured over trail maps, planning our adventures for the following day. Luckily there were a multitude of interesting hiking trails from which to choose.
We were anxious to see the giant trees so that was our first stop. Due to traffic in the park, we boarded a shuttle bus that took us to the old Giant Sherman Tree which we admired and photographed. We continued on the Congress Hiking Trail, noting the trees named for famous political figures. It was beautiful and interesting. The kids and I were amazed by the immense trees!
We next hiked to the Crescent Meadow and eventually happened on Tharp’s Log Cabin. Tharp was one of the first settlers in the area and built the log cabin by hand. He then proceeded to live as a hermit for many years. It is an interesting place to see.
After we had hiked all day, we returned to camp, and the giant RV, generator running, to soak our aching feet in water that had been warming in a jug on our picnic table all day. It was delicious! Had we realized most campgrounds have rules about when and how long you can run your generators, we would have said something, but we were pretty green so we just tried to avoid the campsite as much as possible. The kids enjoyed climbing rocks in the creek next to our site and walking into the campground village market in search of treats. For Meghan that would be ice cream; for Ryan, salmon jerky!
Throughout our trip, as well as on all of our visits to Glacier National Park, we had been religious about using the bear boxes provided at every site for food and cooking supplies, but had never actually seen any bear activity. The next morning we rise early as we were heading out. I was up at 6 and headed to the bathroom. I returned to the campsite, only to observe a large black bear ambling toward our site at a leisurely pace. It drew quite close to a small pup tent camped not far from us and I could see the terrified occupant peering out of the small opening, terrified. I could feel his fear!
I hurried toward our site, eager to warn Terry and the kids. He was out packing things into the car as I approached. I told him quickly about the bear, who had by now veered away from our site, crossed a grassy area and was near the dumpster next to the bathroom area from which I had just come. Terry could now see the bear and turned white when he noticed where it was. As it was heading away from us, I asked him what was wrong. “Meghan is in the bathroom” he shouted, just as the bear passed and peered into the open door of the men’s bathroom which adjoined the women’s.
We both ran across the campground, which by now was beginning to stir with news of the bear. The pup-tent resident was still looking pretty shaken. Getting a bit closer to the bathroom, we both yelled at once, “Meghan stay in the bathroom. There’s a bear out here.” Hearing no response, we yelled again. The bear continued to meander away from the camping area now, so we were feeling a bit calmer, but still afraid Meghan would wander out and into his path. Once he realized he couldn’t access the garbage, he did finally wander off. Meghan eventually emerged from the bathroom, thoroughly annoyed with us that we would call out her name while she was in the bathroom. When I asked why she didn’t respond and reassure us that she would stay put, her response was typical teenager, “I didn’t think of it,” she replied. Priceless! Read more about California camping and things to do in California.