Alex and I like our mini-tradition of backpacking in the Sierras the weekend before Comic-Con and this year decided to skip Yosemite National Park and head back to Sequoia National Park. Our first (and only other) trip to Sequioa was in June 2010, which makes it the “birthplace” of Campfire Chic. I was fresh out of grad school and didn’t have a job lined up…we were sitting down for dinner around the campfire and started to brainstorm things I could do to stay busy while I continued my job search. We didn’t have a name when we finished our trip, but we had plenty of ideas and a few supplies from the gift shop to get me started.
Instead of car camping this time, Alex and I got permits to camp at Clover Creek (originally, we were going to camp at Twin Lakes but decided to have a basecamp closer to the trailhead) outside of the Lodgepole area of the park. It was a quick trip but we were able to some new things like treat water (I know, it’s been a long time coming) and troubleshoot hiking in a thunderstorm.
- Moderately steep climb through forests and meadows. There is a limit so permits are required.
- Lodgepole Visitor Center to Clover Creek : 4.8 miles
- Clover Creek Campground: Shared bear boxes/locker and water source available
- You can find a write-up of the trail to Twin Lakes (which I used for this trip) here.
Pick up your permits at the Lodgepole Visitor’s Center – if you do not request an extension, you need to get to the desk by 9:00 a.m. to get your permit or they may give it away. They are really good about responding to email if you cannot get through via phone. From the visitor’s center, you’ll move your car to the Lodgepole campground overflow parking…there are restrooms and water located here. Be sure to clear out your vehicle of trash and food/smelly items, it’s bear country, afterall! There are at least 2 bear lockers in the parking lot. You’ll be sharing with others, so I suggest keeping your things together and taking up as little room as possible. Cross over the bridge toward the campground and the trailhead will be on the right. Ready set go!
This trail is listed as “moderate to strenuous” To be honest, I thought it was more like “this will be strenuous for your grandma, please don’t bring her this way” not “hi, we’re about to kick your butt.” It’s uphill the entire time until you get to Cahoon Gap, which is kind of a saddle, and then you’ll descend toward Clover Creek (about 4 miles from the trailhead). Don’t get too excited…downhill now means you’ll be met with uphill as you start your way home. If you decide to go past Clover Creek and head another 2 miles or so to Little Lakes, expect more uphill and some switchbacks.
You’ll pass by Cahoon Meadow (shown in the two photos above — the top photo shows Alex standing on the edge of the meadow and the bottom photos show me on the trail looking down at the meadow) about 3 miles from the trailhead, which is beautiful and if your trip is like ours, you’ll see some bears enjoying the meadow, too. We encountered 5 – 6 bears on this trip, including one in our campground (as we arrived, we don’t think s/he stuck around for long) and another (maybe the same one as the campground?) sitting above the trail between Clover Creek and Little Lakes. Please take your safety and the safety of the bears seriously.
Clover Creek’s campground has a shared bear locker that you are required to use while staying there…no leaving your bear canister out or hanging your food bag (I think you’re required to use a bear canister in the National Park, but I could be wrong). It’s convenient but does allow access to giant ants who will rip through your Snickers bar wrappers if given then chance (yes, I’m still crying over this!). There are 2 – 3 established fire rings at the campground and plenty of downed wood for a small fire, if you wish. The area could use a little love, but for a quick trip, it does the trick! As the name suggests, there is a small creek at the site which you can use as your water source, just be sure to treat the water (we boiled for 6 minutes some water and treated other water (for our nuun) with iodine tablets for the required 4 hours).
Alex and I originally planned on being out for two nights but decided to cut the trip short when our stove stopped working and I discovered most of my bars were being gobbled up by ants (totally my fault). We did a quick warmup hike without our packs and then returned to camp to pack up and head out. We got caught in a thunderstorm as we caught sight of the Cahoon Meadow and it was glorious. And by glorious, I mean mildly terrifying at times when it sounded like Galatcus was ripping apart the sky. Otherwise, awesome. By the time we made it back to the trailhead, it was pouring buckets and I’m sure the campers thought we were crazy with our shorts, tank tops, and giant smiles as we slowly made our way back to the car. We get so little rain that you need to enjoy it while you can!
I’ll be sharing some of my backpacking comforts (including food!) next week.