2009 Frog Camp threatened to become sog camp for a while, but
everything turned out OK in the end.
wrote about this event in 2007
and 2008, and
also several earlier
trips. My 11-year old grandson Mikie and I have been going to this spot
during Easter vacation since 2003.
It's actually at Kirch Flat Campground, adjacent to the Kings River,
just above the upper end of Pine Flat Reservoir. A tiny section of
water has separated from the main river and formed a quiet pond
where lots of frogs make their home.
year we were accompanied by Pablo and Librado McHenry, age 13 and
10, who live next door to my former residence. Mikie has played with
them when he visited me there at least since he was six.
got a good start on Thursday morning, April 9, and arrived at camp
around noon. The first year or two we had only a few
"neighbors" there, but the place seems to be getting more
popular or better known. This year we got the last available space,
and as people left, others took their place. Two parties left Friday
morning, and those spots were occupied within an hour. When we left
on Saturday, someone was waiting to pull into our space.
weather forecast was not really ideal for camping - showers
were expected Thursday evening, and potentially all day Friday.
However, "showers" usually means rain off and on, and
these were the only dates when everyone could make it, so we hoped
for the best.
getting set up and having lunch, we decided we should do our
exploring Thursday afternoon, just in case it was too wet to get out
drove the truck upstream, following the paved road, then a dirt road that runs
on the north side of the river. This road dead ends at a trailhead
about after eight miles, but we don't go that far - we stopped at a
spot where there is an array of rock walls on a hillside, its
original purpose unknown.
walked up a hill, across the top, and back down, following an old
road, and then a cow trail. Unlike last year we did not see any
creatures, but the scenery was spectacular as usual, with everything
bright green and many wild flowers in bloom. We had a few misty rain
drops during this outing, but nothing that could be defined as rain.
it was time for the big salamander hunt. Last year Mikie and his
friend Griffin each brought home a salamander. Mikie's survived the
year, but seemed listless, and he agreed it would be the right thing
to bring him along and release him. We did this on our way to camp,
at Big Creek, a good size stream that runs into the lake.
our hunt, we went to a stream we had named Big Salamander Creek,
where last year the boys saw a dozen or more, and briefly captured
five or six. This year we did not see as many, but the boys caught
and quickly released three. They also had fun getting wet (we
brought extra clothes along this time), walking through a big
culvert pipe that runs under the road, and generally exploring the
at camp the kids rode a bike and a scooter, and played catch, joined
part of the time by a young boy from a nearby camp site. We went
down to the frog pond when it was getting dark, but for the first
time did not see any frogs, although we certainly heard them.
the evening we watched a few TV shows on DVD (Wonder Years
and The Simpsons), and got to bed at a reasonable hour. The
trailer theoretically has sleeping room for six, but that is not
realistic - it was actually a bit crowded with four people. The
couch and the table both turn into beds, but they really only have
room for one person. The queen size bed is fine for two, but with
all possible sleeping space in use, there is no place to put things
except on the floor in the narrow walkways. However, we managed with
no ill effects.
Saturday, there was some sunshine and blue skies when we got up, but
I always suspect that rain is hiding just over the mountains. We
went back to Big Salamander Creek for a while, and also drove up the
road a little farther (back toward Fresno), where we could gather
some dry manzanita wood. This is a very hard, hot-burning wood, and
even though what we gathered had been on the ground for some time,
it does not absorb water like softer woods, making it good for
long after we got back it started to sprinkle, then turned to rain,
sending us into the trailer. More than half the parties in the
campground had tents, and I did not envy them, crowded into a fairly
small area to keep out of the rain. It rained for about three hours,
but with the generator going and the DVD player working fine, it was
no problem. We watched the movie Stand by Me and a few TV
the rain stopped, everyone was glad to get outside again. While the
boys went down to the pond, I got the fire going. The wood was wet on
the outside, so it took some time to get the small pieces dry enough
to burn. Once I got a small fire going, we were able to dry out the
bigger pieces, and eventually we had a pretty good campfire. As it
got darker and colder, we let the fire die down, and went inside for a taquito dinner, followed by
Saturday morning, our final day, there was bright sunshine with lots
of blue sky, but everyone was ready to head home. We had breakfast,
then got things picked up and packed up and ready to go.
Back in Fresno we went first to my RV repair shop (Central
Valley RV Repair) where I emptied the holding tanks, then to my
house, where we brought in stuff from the cupboards and
was then time to deliver Pablo and Librdo back home, with a stop at Fat
Jack's for lunch. I
recently sold my former property, where I've been keeping the
trailer, but I'm paying a small fee to the new owners to keep my
trailer there for a while, so this was our final destination. The new owners are my former next door
neighbors and the parents of Pablo and Librado.
boys obviously had a great time, and I got some reading and relaxing
done, so despite the lack of frogs, we considered the trip a
Estel, April 2009