Hiking amongst giants in Sequoia National Park

Nothing beats hiking deep into the wilderness for a couple of nights with the right company. My great friend, Tracy and I decided to hike into the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national park for a 3 night stay. Since we car-camped for the first evening and backpacked in for the remaining nights, our food supply, gear, and clothing needed to be planned accordingly. 

I’ve been meaning to try out a few dehydrated food brands to cook in hot water, but I also prepared some fresh items for our first night at camp. Dehydrated food is obviously not fresh, but it is ideal for backpacking trips as they are light and full of carbs, which you’ll need to replenish your body with after a strenuous full day’s hike. 

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Some of my favorite brands, but you can easily make your own dehydrated food ahead of time. I have tried all kinds of jerkys in my lifetime, but nothing comes close IMO to 5 Star Jerky.

As it is a common practice among the backpacking community, our goal was to travel as light as possible so the weight wouldn’t slow us down. My list included:

packing

  1. Water (not pictured), waterproof tarp (in case it rained), fast-drying hand towel, and sleeping foam. I also brought extra paracord rope. 
  2. A great set of hiking boots, retractable shovel, and 1 roll of TP, as there were no toilets where we were going. 
  3. Hanging light, headlamp, and extra batteries. 
  4. Puff’s saline wipes, toothbrush with paste, deodorant, sunscreen, earbuds, and Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap. 
  5. Pocket chain saw , Helle knife, second retractable knife, 2 glow sticks (optional), paracord bracelet with attached whistle, and a necessary light-weight medical kit. Also included (not pictured here), were a trail map, SAM splint with cohesive wrap and an Israeli first aid bandage
  6. Compass, magnesium fire starter, butane lighter, and extra sealed fire-proof matches (optional).
  7. Instant coffee, tea, honey, and salt & pepper humidity-proof shaker.
  8. Water bottle with filtration system, purification drops, electrolytes tablets, and one of my favorites, High West whiskey, of course!
  9. GSI soloist cookset, butane canisters (always bring extra), and an MSR pocket rocket stove.
  10. Sleeping bag, light rain jacket, and additional clothing. Avoid bringing a pair of jeans like I did, as I couldn’t find my semi-light water-resistant pants in time. 

Tracy brought the 2-person sleeping tent with fly. 

 

Although the drive from San Francisco to the Sequoia National Park took just over four hours, it seemed to have gone by fairly quickly, plus, you couldn’t beat the scenery on the way to our destination.

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After signing in with the rangers to get the overnight permits, we arrived at the Potwisha campground only to be greeted by a familiar face. I recommend campsite #20 for a great view of the sloping ravine. 

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Salad greens tossed with peanut butter hoisin dressing

The night prior to our trip I prepared a quick salad dressing and once it was mixed throughly I packed it in an empty spice bottle so it could carry well, it also makes for fast re-mixing on the spot. It’s easy to carry this type of salad into a backpacking trip, but just make sure to bring harder greens such as kale or radicchio, which should last well after a little beating in your backpack.

Servings: 2-3 
Prep time: 15 minutes

You’ll need:

  • About 3 spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
  • ½ tsp of chili oil. Try less first (after mixing) and then adjust to your taste
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • ¼ of a cup of coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Baby kale. If using regular kale, cut into thicker chiffonade strips
  • ½ fistfuls of toasted peanuts
  • ½ fistfuls of blonde, dark raisins or dry currants. For currants there is no need to slice them further since they’re already small

dressing

This recipe takes no time, it’s delicious, and painless to assemble at camp. To make the dressing, mix in all the ingredients above except for the peanuts, raisins, and greens. Then, cut the peanuts and raisins into smaller pieces of your liking right before tossing in with the dressing and greens.

salad

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I served our salad with some grilled pork balls which were made right on the fire. I used this opportunity to try out a quick Vietnamese pork ball side dish I’ve been meaning to make for a while. The full recipe breakdown is on this recent post

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I found some thin branches to serve as skewers.

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The next morning we parked the car near Hospital Rock before heading into the trailhead. This place goes back a long way with countless tales of explorers and the native American tribes that lived right along the Kaweah riverbank. There were these ancient Monache tribe pictographs marking our entrance. 

hospitalrock

map

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Tracy ready to hit the Middle Fork trail.
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Manzanita trees of all sizes were scattered along our path.

The Middle Fork trail begins within the diversity of the foothills, and climbs steadily into higher elevation country. It eventually leads into designated primitive camping areas with untamed beauty. We decided to make Panther Creek our base camp for the next two nights, and upon arrival we found the right spot where we’d set up tent for the night. Needless to say, the views were gorgeous anywhere we set our eyes on.

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The surrounding rushing creeks were our fresh water source for the next few days only after being properly filtrated and purified before use.

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fire

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Every night we made sure to store all our food and toiletries in a sealed bag before hanging it up high from a tree. This was bear country after all.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we hit the trail again. Our next stop was Mehrten Creek Crossing, where we’d break for lunch. 

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Mehrten Creek Crossing.

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Following this amazing experience we proceeded to head back home, but only after we stopped at the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park to gaze upon the otherworldly and humbling General Sherman amid countless Sequoias.

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And to believe that these flaky seeds get to be the size of towering giants.
Redwood twins and yours truly.

SF

Happy trails,

: Jaime

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