Richard Bair, a.k.a. Yogi At home in Sequoia National Park.
I first came to Sequoia National Park in 1981 as a tourist from the San Fernando Valley in southern California. I fell in love and immediately asked employees how to get a job here, but it was 5 years and many visits later that I finally came to work. That was April of 1987, and my love for the park has just grown since.
I started out as a desk clerk at the old Giant Forest hotel working nights. And I started hiking and backpacking. In 1988 I moved to Employee housing management and that winter went to work at Wolverton, our ski area and x-country ski shop. That’s when I found the pleasure in skiing into the back country in winter season on telemark skis.
From then until now, I’ve done many jobs (some might say MOST jobs) and played many roles in the park. From managing Bearpaw Meadows High Sierra Camp to being a member of the National Park Service Search and Rescue team, I found ways to integrate my job with my love for the high country in our park. Finally, in 1996 I started taking the entire summer off from work to back pack and climb peaks.
Most years between then and now, I quit working for 2 or 3 months each year and wander in the high country of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. I’ve climbed 60 different Peaks and walked countless miles and still find it fresh and perfect every time out. I’ve realized that 1 lifetime isn’t enough to see everything there is, plus I’m a lazy man. So I need a whole summer!
Yogi's Top Picks for Fall
The park is always beautiful, and as the seasons change, so do my favorite sites and walks. Here are a few of my fall favorites:
- Any good spot for sunset. Moro Rock, Beetle or Sunset Rocks. In monsoon season we get afternoon thunder showers and if we’re lucky some clouds are still in the air at sunset creating beautiful colors and clean air from the washing. From Moro Rock, looking west, nothing is as high until Mount Fuji in Japan, across the Pacific!
- The trail of the Sequoias. This trail wanders through the Giant Forest and passes through or along Log Meadow, home to Tharp’s Log (a fallen Sequoia that Hale Tharp lived inside of), Crescent Meadow and Circle Meadow. The meadows are the only place where you can get an entire Sequoia Tree in a photo because of their great size and height. In addition, though we have few trees that are not conifers (Evergreens) we do have Dogwoods which take on a lovely soft purple color and are outstanding in photos against the red of the Sequoia. The meadows are full of Bracken Fern and tall grasses that take on nice fall colors, and are excellent places to spot wildlife such as Mule Deer and Bears.
- The Big Trees Trail. This is a very easy walk around Round Meadow in the heart of the Giant Forest and is wheelchair accessible. It features many sign boards with different nature information and is self guided, and is a good choice for families with small children or disabled family members.
- All back packing trails. After Labor Day, most kids are back in school and the back country trails, including the most popular (and thus most crowded) become quiet and perfect. Any place you walk, be it the Lakes Trail from Wolverton or the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow to Mount Whitney is far less crowded during the fall months. The Huckleberries and Elderberries are ripe and delicious. The sun is less strong and damaging and days are shorter and much cooler. It’s my favorite time to be out for a weekend or 2 weeks. But be aware… snow can fall as early as October and the Ranger that live in the back country are gone and stations empty by late September, so be self sufficient and take precautions in case. The National Park Service has lots of great information as well as maps. Wilderness Permits are required for all overnight trips into the back country.
- Fall is a great time to fish. I enjoy walking up the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River from the Crystal Cave road, fishing as I go. The water temp. is warm and the river is at its lowest so you can stay shin deep in the river all day long. German Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout are common. The terrain can get rugged so always go with a partner.