Our experience with Mr. Bear behind us, Steve and I decided to head over to our reserved campground, Dorst Creek, and set up our home away from home. On the way over we stopped in at the Lodgepole Visitors Center for a looksee and another chance to stamp the “nerd book”. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that there were still tickets available to tour Sequoia’s Crystal Cave that evening. So, of course we procured two! Mmmm, a candlelight cave tour…Tickets in hand and a few hours to kill before our tour was to begin, we continued on our way to Dorst Creek.
Now, let me state for the record that I am a camping newbie. I didn’t camp as a kid and, well, even as an adult (before Steve and I “itemized”), the number of times I have camped can be tallied on one hand (or one finger) and even that experience was fairly sanitized. I did sleep in a tent, but I didn’t really set anything up nor did I do any cooking. So, as far as I’m concerned, that experience doesn’t really count. No, my first true camping experience was with Steve in Joshua Tree for one of the Perseid meteor showers little more than a year ago. Since that fateful day, we have made an effort to camp and, schedules permitting, camp often.
We pulled up to our reserved spot at Dorst and were delighted with the surroundings. Our site was at the back of one of the campground loops, shaded by myriad larger than life trees and bordered on one side by Dorst Creek. Lovely. We knew that we were only going to be there one night, so we loaded the bear box up with our food and toiletries, set up our tent, mattress and sleeping bags and decided to leave the rest of our gear in the car.
A note about gear…I really like it. I like it so much that I’ve acquired a fair amount of it over the last several months. As such, we are now the proud owners of Adam and Eve sleeping bags, pillows, an air mattress, a tent with a screened in porch, a zero-gravity camp recliner, a portable camp kitchen, camp wine glasses and a French press coffee pot, to name but a few. I am angling for a camp oven, but thus far Steve has vetoed this possible acquisition on the grounds that we already have too much gear. Too much gear? Is there such a thing?
At any rate, after resting up a bit, we headed over to the cave for a bit of candlelight exploration, which required a 40 minute drive to the cave parking lot, a moderate hike down to the cave entrance through clouds of mosquitoes (a recurring theme throughout our journey) and some gearing up for the tour. While lighting lanterns we were greeted by our Sequoia Natural History Association guide, an avid caver, who sought to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for Sequoia’s geological underground wonders with us. And that he did! The cave formations were stunning and I felt privileged to be allowed access into such an amazing example of nature’s beauty. The entire cave walkabout lasted about 90 minutes (plenty of time for Steve to take lots of photos…maybe he will share some with us…). If you find yourself in Sequoia and you are intrigued by the deeper places of the world, this tour is worth the $16 per person ticket price.
Did you say famished? We were! So we piled back into the wagon and made our way back to Dorst Creek for some campfire magic (also known as our traditional first night of camping meal): hotdogs and/or foofy gourmet sausages, chips as well as dessert consisting of freshly inflated Jiffy Pop Popcorn (a masterful engineered treat)!
Needless to say, after a day on the road, an encounter with a bear and an evening of caving we were bushed. We hit the bags after dinner and slept like rocks!