Day Trip From Woodlake to Three Rivers, CA In Search of Snow

Winding Through the Backroads Out of Woodlake, CA

We got up Sunday morning to absolutely sparkly blue skies, and cool temperatures.  It was a perfect day for a trip to the mountains.  I wanted to see snow up close and personal.  In the summer here the weather changes very little, but in the winter it can change from minute to minute.  Before it changed too much V, Kalev and I hopped into the car and headed for the hills.  My goal was to get to Sequoia National Park, and play in the snow.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake014The trip up to the park was distracting.  “Pull over right here, V.  I want to snap a picture of rock outcroppings.”

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“Stop, stop, stop. right here V.  There’s a great picture of a horse for Auty.”

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“Look at that view, V.  Don’t you think I should take that?  SToooooop!!!”

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“Thanks V.  I’m ready now.”  Both V and Kalev were VERY patient

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Kaweah Lake near Three Rivers, CA

I do want to stop at Kaweah Lake and take a few pictures.  OK?

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Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I can’t believe that I thought this was ugly when I first moved here.  Right now it is at its lowest levels.  You can see the high-level water mark on the side of the hill.  When the rains come, and the snows melt, the lake behind Terminus Dam builds up.  If the Corps of Engineers doesn’t keep it empty now, it could conceivably break the dam built in 1955.  Before that time our valley was subject to extreme droughts most years, then huge floods every 7-10 years that bathed all the valley towns in several feet of fast-flowing, tree and rock-laden river waters.

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We pulled into the Tulare County Boat Safety Patrol Lake Kaweah Office parking lot, saw a friend of V’s, and took some pictures.  The flag was flying at half-mast in honor of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

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Terminus Dam
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“No, no Puppy Girl. Mommy doesn’t want to climb back UP those stairs.” – ML
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I’ll bring you back here this spring, and you’ll wonder how those cars could have ever been driving down there. ML

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake052 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake055 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake076Then we headed up the road in search of snow.  Almost immediately we came to Horse Creek Bridge.  When I was teaching, just before summer vacation one year, a young woman came to speak to our 4th graders about swimming safety.

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Like many other youngsters, when summer came, she went with her friends and took turns jumping off Horse Creek Bridge into the water below.  Of course, there’s a lot more water in the summer.

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Nonetheless, the rocks are still there, buried, and impossible to judge.  She hit her head and broke her neck.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake082 The jump paralyzed her for life at age 19.

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We drove up to Slick Rock, a popular place to swim in the summer.

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Kalev was thankful for a chance to explore.

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Mom and Dad weren’t paying much attention to her.  Good thing she had on her leash!

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Plenty of green grass. Don’t look Dad! About time we get to explore something besides pavement!  This is MORE like it. OK, I’m done now, Dad. DAD! I said I’m DONE. LET”S MOVE IT!   COME ON! – K
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Finally, there’s a lot to sniff here . – K
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I could make it down this little slope, but Dad said no. If he’d just LOSE this leash! – K
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I could climb those. He’s not being reasonable with this leash thing. MMMM, What’s this smell? -K
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Dad seems preoccupied with this view. I don’t know what the big deal is. I could just run around if he’d just unsnap my leash. – K
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Mom doesn’t even care. Do you think SHE is going to climb those rocks. hahaha Last time she tried something like that she smashed her camera lens when she tripped. LOL  BUT I COULD BE CLIMBING THOSE ROCKS!  DAD, LET ME GO!  -K
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I wonder how I could get his attention? – K
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There, these did the trick! Now he’s looking.  He’s bending down.  He’ll unsnap my leash now.  Ouch DAD! You’re pulling my hair!  I don’t have much, hair, and … What are you doing?  Leave those burs in my back alone. They aren’t bothering anyone! – K
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Great, now he’s called Mom over. She never gives up on these things. OUUUUUCH! MOM! Why don’t they just go back to their sightseeing? – K

 

V came unglued.  I struggled with my bandaged thumb to pull out burs for about the next 15 minutes.  Finally we were down to the last three, but they weren’t budging.  Then one more to go.  It was almost in her mouth, and needed to be cut out.  About that time, the park ranger drove up.  I got out of the car and asked if he had any scissors.  He did!  We cut the last bur out, bit by bit.  Kalev was such a good girl.  She did jerk her head a bit, but never a yelp or a snap. In the end, it took both V and me to hold her head still while Ranger Bill snipped out the bur.  Here’s a FAQ for you about burs.  “The bur of burdock was the inspiration for Velcro.”  Wikipedia

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That wasn’t so bad. Maybe Ranger Bill will let me down to run around. – K

Kalev was very grateful to Ranger Bill.

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Our next stop was Horse Creek Campground.

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You can see how exposed the tree roots are because of the higher level of the water in the spring and early summer.  That means the campground is under water, and we wouldn’t be driving on this road.

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Dad, put me down. Mom’s leaving us.  MOM, you forgot me!  Do you see that grass? What’s a Pac-Man? – K

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Across the road, I spotted Pac-Man hanging out at Horse Creek Campground.

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Can you tell how old this tree is?  Me either, the rings are too small for me to count, but it’s dead now.  After one last shot for Toemail, we were ready to leave. The blue skies suddenly turned gray, we were tired, and we never drove high enough to reach snow.  We decided to go back home and wait for the snow to come down to us.  It was a relatively quick trip, and we thought of many other reasons to come back.  It was a great date.  People come from all over the world to visit the Sequoia National Park, home of the biggest trees in the world.  We didn’t make it up that far today.

So if you come visit us, we’ll make the entire trip to the Sequoias without all the distractions because you will have seen them already.  Or maybe you’d like the distractions, too.

What do you think?  With or without distractions?