missing last year, we were able get back on track for the eighth
annual Frog Camp at Kirch Flat campground, above Pine Flat Reservoir.
My grandson Mikie, now 13, and I started going there in 2003. In
2009 we were joined by Pablo and Librado, age 14 and 12, who live
next door to my old house in Fresno, and they were with us once
again this year.
We got started around 10
a.m., arriving at camp before noon. Along the Trimmer Springs Road,
which runs along the north side of Pine Flat, we stopped and walked
in to what we started calling Little Salamander Creek, but which was
No Salamander Creek this year. This trail is really just a cow path,
and seems to be more overgrown every year, with a lot of poison oak
right by the trail, so that will probably be our list visit there.
This was the first time I
had taken the motor home to this camp. In the past we have taken
drives in the pickup up the road above camp, and on the dirt roads
that go upstream on both sides of the river. That's not an option
with the motor home, so I was a little concerned about keeping the
boys entertained, although my philosophy is that it's their job, not
mine, to have things to do, and it worked out pretty well.
They waded in the frog
pond (this year the frogless pond), but soon had baseballs and bats
out, and got a game going across the road from our camp. The tall
grass in the campground has been mowed, but most of their hits went
past the cleared area into the unmowed area. They had one T-ball and
several green tennis balls, and if you want a challenge, try to find
a green tennis ball in three-foot high wild grass.
By the mid-morning the
second day, all the balls were lost, at least one if them in a tree.
However, while they lasted, they had some good games. Four boys from
a nearby campsite came over the first day, so they had actual team
play for a couple of hours, playing until they could no longer see
We had stopped on the way
to gather some dead manzanita for firewood, so we had a camp fire
with toasted marshmallows the first night. Actually I had toasted
marshmallows, and the boys, like most kids, had charcoal lumps with
a bit of marshmallow in the middle.
As indicated above, the
usual loud chorus of frogs was absent this year. I think there are
two reasons: This has been a near record rain and snow season, and
the river is running very high. The pond is actually just a little
section of the river that bypasses the main stream, forming a
section of still water about 50 feet long. This year, for the first
time, I could see water movement in the pond, and I think the frogs
like still water. It has also been quite cold late into the season,
so that may also have affected the frog population. We did see one
frog on land at least a hundred feet from the water.
On the second day we took
a walk up the road to the bridge that crosses the Kings River from
the north to the south side. A ways past this there is a dirt road
down to the river, where there is a long, narrow flat space that
would be suitable for camping in case the campground is full. There
are at least two other roads leading into this area, and I
determined that I could take the motor home down there if necessary.
Both evenings we watched
TV after it got dark, and throughout both days I watched food
disappear at an alarming rate, with three boys who seem to get
hungrier with every bite. I was prepared for this because we've been
observing this with Mikie for the last year or so.
On the third day we got
things loaded up and headed home shortly after breakfast.