April 2, 2007:
In 2003, my grandson Mikie
and I went camping at Kirch Flat, a U.S. Forest Service campground
just past the upper end of Pine
It is about 60 miles east of home (Fresno CA), and takes an hour and a half with
the trailer, so it is a quick trip that takes you into the beautiful
foothills. This is an area that gets hot and dry
in the summertime, but in spring everything is brilliant green and
beautiful. There are various kinds of grasses and small plants
covering the ground everywhere, as well as several species of oaks
and other trees, and many shrubs.
That first time, we picked a camp site that was just above a place
where a tiny, low flowing side branch separates from the main river. In
effect, it creates a long, narrow pond. That night at dusk our
conversation was nearly drowned out by the croaking of hundreds of
frogs in the pond. These turned out to be those very tiny green
frogs that puff out their throats and make a very large sound.
grandson believes any animals he finds should be captured and taken
home and he managed to get one frog. With scenic beauty and hiking
opportunities for me, and frogs for Mikie, we have made “The Frog
Pond” a regular camping destination each Easter vacation.
this year’s trip, we left Fresnoabout
Sunday, April 1, and for the 3rd or 4th time were able to get our
favorite spot, even though there are several dozen people here this
problem with leaving home at this time of year is that the hockey
season is winding down and the playoffs are at hand. To deal with
this problem, a few years ago I got a portable satellite dish, so we
set that up and were able to watch the Sharks-Kings game yesterday
course, Mikie could hardly wait for dark and the sound of frogs.
They usually do a few warm-up croaks with just a few frogs before
the entire chorus starts, but it was not long after dark when the
noise was at a high level. We went down to the water with flashlight
and net, and soon the three most careless frogs in the pond were in
Mikie’s bucket. One escaped during the night, and he has firm
instructions not to bring home more than one. I’m encouraging him
to let them all go, but we’ll see how that works out.
3: Mikie caught three more frogs last night, and was ready to
release the original two. It turned out that one had got away on his
own, but we were able to deliver one happy frog back to his home.
we went for a drive. About a mile or so upstream from here the road
crosses the river and heads up the North
to Balch Camp, a PG&E residential area for people who work at
the local power houses. At the bridge, dirt roads go up the main river on both
sides; on the south the road follows the river for three miles, then
heads up along Mill Flat Creek to join Highway 180, the road from Fresnoto
north side road goes up eight miles to Garnet Dike campground, and
the start of a trail that follows the river another six miles or so.
We drove up this road about six miles, stopping one place to do some
hiking; and setting up our chairs for reading and snacking at
another spot. All of this country is green, with a good growth of
grass and other plants, and bright new leaves on the deciduous
trees. In addition, there are wild flowers everywhere, with an
emphasis on golden poppies and blue lupines.
this is National Forest land and some of it has additional
protection, it was once open to ranching and other uses. There are
remnants of buildings and other signs of human activity here and
there along both sides of the river. Where we hiked we followed an
old road, now overgrown with trees and bushes.
came back down the main road and went past our campground a few
miles to where the road climbs over a pass, and cell phone reception
is a possibility. We each called our mothers to let them know
we’re alive and well, then headed back to camp, with today’s
hockey game coming up at 4 p.m.
6: On Tuesday night (April 3) Mikie caught another two frogs,
one of which escaped immediately. The final tally was eight
captured, four escaped, three were eventually released, and one was
taken home (he’s doing well and croaking loudly).
we woke up Wednesday, Mikie asked if we could go home, and I was
ready, having done all the things I planned to. We had breakfast,
got hitched up, and arrived home about , with “Frogman” in a bucket and ready to go
into an aquarium.
Estel, April 2007
Photos (Pictures open in a new window)
Mikie sits on an old cattle
loading chute on Garnet Dike Road
Mikie holds his "bug
box" with a captive inch worm
Two captive frogs
Mountains in Kings
Canyon National Park from above Pine Flat Lake
corral on Garnet Dike Road above Pine Flat Reservoir
Sycamores by the
Kings River above
Lupines near Kings
lichen on rock near Kings River, Garnet Dike Road
Garnet Dike Road
California poppies cover the hills above the Kings River