This past weekend (September 28 – 30, 2012), I went on backpacking trip with one of my sons, Jason (age 21), and number of guys from church. Thursday afternoon, I picked up a rental car at near-by John Wayne Airport for the trip. Leaving work a little early, I picked up Jason after class at Orange Coast College. We got home and loaded up our stuff. After picking up another guy, we took off around 6 PM. Although traffic in L.A. was slow, we made it to Bakersfield for food and fuel around 8:30 PM.
Around 10:30 PM, we made to Visalia. Google Maps told us to take route 245 instead of the more popular route 198. Because I was confused with the map instructions, I stopped at a convenience store and asked for clarification. He recommended route 198. I knew that route 198 was undergoing construction but I figured that he knew what was happening.
Around 11 PM, we arrive at the entrance to Sequoia National Park. I know that we still have about 21 miles on route 198 to get to Lodgepole Campground. We see a flashing sign that says “ROAD CLOSED SUN-THUR 9PM-6AM” and “ONE PASS 11:30 PM.” So we knew that we had a shot at making it. At this point, route 198 is mostly switchbacks because we are rising several thousand feet in elevation. Frequently we’d see 15 MPH signs; sometimes 10 MPH. So I needed to drive slow to be safe, but I needed to drive fast to make the 11:30 PM pass.
Long story short, at 11:28 PM, we encounter the “ROAD CLOSED” barricade. At 11:33 PM, a construction guy shows up, moves the barricade, and motions us through. He rouses the driver of the other vehicle that was waiting. After both of our vehicles have passed, he drags the barricade back in place. Then he escorts us through the construction area. So we just barely made it. If we hadn’t, we would have had to do what another carload of guys had to do which was to camp on this side of the closure and then pass through in the morning.
Jason and I slept in the car overnight. I got a little chilly around 4:30 AM so I pulled my sleeping bag out of the trunk and climbed in.
Here is how I slept:
We stopped to see General Sherman (the largest tree in the world by volume and weight). Here are two photos. Click on each photo to see it full size.