Early Frog Camps
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Recently I ran across some entries in my journal regarding earlier Frog Camp outings (the first one I wrote about formally was 2007). Although not in the style I would use for public consumption, I decided to post this report on my early trips with Mikie to what became Frog Camp. Later outings are linked on the Travel Report menu below.

- Dick Estel, March 2010 


2003     2004     2005


April 6-9, 2003 : Mikie and I went camping on April 6 through 9. Teri (his mother) came up on Tuesday and stayed for the night. We went to Kirch Flat on the Kings River just above Pine Flat Lake. Although it was cloudy Sunday night, after that the weather was perfect, and everything was green, with lots of flowers.

As soon as we got there Mikie wanted to ride his bike, so I got them out and rode with him to show him where he could go. Coming back, we came down a steep driveway, and he crashed, getting some scratches and knocking the handle bars off kilter (easily fixed with a wrench). He recovered and had a great time riding around the camp (avoiding the steep hill). He learned better how to use his brakes on some gentler slopes.

We drove up to Goofy Smith Flat along Mill Flat Creek on the south side of the river Sunday; and up to the top of Secata Ridge on Monday, where we walked and gathered wood. Then we went up the north side of the river a few miles, to a place we have camped in the past. Coming back we saw a gopher snake in the road, and got out and had a good look at it.

When Teri came up, we went up to Black Rock Reservoir, hiking down to the river, and then down the stairs to the dam.

Down the bank below our campsite ran a tiny section of the river. Someone had built a rock dam across it, creating a perfect frog pond, and as soon as it got dark Sunday, they started in. We had no luck trying to see them that night, but the next night we were able to shine the flashlight and watch them. They were so loud you could hear them up by the trailer with the generator running, but they were barely an inch long. They were the kind that puff their throats way out when they croak. We also saw a larger frog that came swimming across the pond both nights (Monday and Tuesday). Tuesday afternoon before singing time Mikie was able to catch and release six of the little ones.

We also saw ladybugs, beetles, a salamander (in Salamander Creek below Trimmer Springs), big yellow butterflies, lots of ground squirrels, and an animal that looked like a fox, but did not have a long tail, on the Black Rock road above Balch Camp. It could have been a dog, but acted wild.

There were some people rafting who got out at the camp Sunday, and a couple of parties who stopped for lunch; otherwise there was no one there. However, the raft companies were setting up their camps across the river and upstream a little ways.


April 12 - 14, 2004: Mikie and I went camping April 12 14 at Kirch Flat, where we went last year around this same time. We got the same spot, which is a quick and easy walk down the bank to the frog pond. The first night we caught a frog, but did not see any more, although we heard them and knew they were close to us, hiding in the weeds at the edge of the water. Teri & Mikie set up a nice aquarium for Hopper after we got back home.

We took a drive up above Balch Camp to where Patterson Creek crosses the road. Stopped a couple of places to take pictures, and Mikie captured some bugs.

On the way back we saw a rattlesnake in the road. He started to crawl away so we got out of the truck to take a look, although Mikie was very careful not to get too close. I was too.

The next day we went up the north side of the river to the Bear Wallow trail. I have hiked in there a few times, so I went up the trail about a quarter mile to see what it was like and to see how my leg held up. We had a snack in a picnic area there, then drove back down past the camp toward Fresno and up to the top of the ridge, where we could use the cell phone.

That evening there was a family camped near us who had a six year old boy, so he and Mikie played together a little.

We had very warm weather the first day, but the second day cooled off a lot, and it was 38 degrees Wednesday morning.


March 31 - April 2, 2005: Mikie and I went on our annual camping trip to the frog pond (Kirch Flat Campground above Pine Flat), March 31 April 2. We had great weather, and there are many wildflowers, thanks to the heavy rains this year. Mikie caught and released a frog, and we saw a dead snake. We drove up past Balch Camp to a vista point where you can see a sliding waterfall on the north fork of the Kings River. There is lots of water; Dinky Creek was especially big (bigger than the North Fork).

We got back home around 1:30 Saturday, and Tim and Teri came by to get Mikie. We had pizza. After I arrived I discovered that a bolt holding the trailer suspension on one side had come loose, allowing the tires to rub against each other. I need to get it fixed at least in time for the Parkfield Bluegrass Festival in May.


2006: Guess I didn't write about this one, or maybe we didn't go.


(Pictures open in a new window)

The road from Balch Camp to Black Rock Patterson Bluffs & Falls Patterson Creek
Spring waterfall on Black Rock Road Wren Peak in Kings Canyon National Park
from the road to Kirch Flat
Mariposa Lily
Mikie at the frog pond 2003 Sitting on the penstock near
Kings River Power House
Ready to climb the tower?
Frog Camp 2003 "Camp hockey," 2004 Sycamores at the campground 

Related Links

Pine Flat Reservoir Kirch Flat Campground Foothill Wild Flowers
Central Valley RV Repair      Salamanders
Other Frog Camps: 2007          2008         2009          2011

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Updated September 6, 2020