Post 2/4 Sequoia Trip
Warning! Picture heavy post ahead!
The morning light was beautiful when I rose on the second morning of my trip. The Lamp Liter Inn where I stayed had lovely landscaping and lush pots even on the second floor walkways.
Heading down the highway, I had my first glimpse of the Sierras through the morning haze.
The orchards and vineyards continue right up to the base of the golden grass covered hills.
I loved the colors of this valley, with the Kaweah river in the bottom. At one time, you can see that the Kaweah resevoir was much higher (marked by a line where the green stops on the hillsides). Now there are full grown trees, roads and campgrounds where water used to be.
After driving up a winding road through the lower hills, at last you enter Sequoia National Park. The road continues to wind through the foothills. One of the sights along the way is Tunnel Rock, which you can no longer drive under.
From the Hospital Rock site, you gain a great view of Moro Rock far above. It is a granite dome, much like those of Yosemite. What you can't see from this picture is that from the top side, you can drive up to the base and climb 300+ stairs to stand on the top! My knees don't like stairs very well, so I passed on this opportunity!
My first stop among the Sequoia was at Giant Forest. There I took the short walk from the parking lot to Beetle Rock. I first read about Beetle Rock many many years ago in the book, "One Day on Beetle Rock" by Sally Carrighar. When I was young, I dreamt of becoming a naturalist and Ms. Carrighar's books along with those of Ernest Thompson Seton were the fuel of my dreams! How exciting to finally see a place in person that I'd read about so many times! I had no idea that Beetle Rock was so big! This is actually the middle of three flat rock domes like this that together comprise Beetle Rock!
Around the visitor center at Giant Forest, there are many of the big trees. There were so many people it was hard to enjoy them, so I ended up driving down the road a bit. I stopped at a pullout where I could see a lovely small meadow filled with flowers and many of the big trees. To my delight, there was a quiet trail that led off through them. I spent a couple hours, walking among the trees, enjoying the flowers and plants.
It had rained the night before and water drops were clinging to many of the plants. These crystaline droplets caught my eye! I have yet to look up what type of plant the pale sage green leaves are. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip.
At one point on the trail, I noticed this sign, almost completly concealed by the trees and plants that have grown up around it. The quote by John Muir expressed exactly how I was feeling walking amongst the big trees.
"When I entered this sublime wilderness the day was nearly done, the trees with rosy, glowing countenances seemed to be hushed and thoughtful, as if waiting in concious religious dependence on the sun, and one naturally walked softly and awe-stricken among them." ~ John Muir
Eventually, I drove down the road, parking and taking the long steep walk down the hill to see the General Sherman tree. The largest of the Sequoias, its base measures 40 feet in diameter and is taller than the Statue of Liberty (including the base)! While there are taller trees, the girth of this tree plus its height combine to give it the largest mass of any tree on earth! At first I tried to take pictures of it with no people showing, but found that it is only with some people in the picture that to give it a sense of scale that you begin to see just how enormous it really is!
Another view of the General Sherman Tree shown with hoards of visitors. On the far side (out of sight in both pictures), there is what appears to be a fallen tree, but the ranger present noted that it was actually one of the limbs of the tree that fell a few years ago. It is over 6 feet in diameter and came from nearly 200 feet up in the tree!
I ended my visit to the General Sherman tree by walking down to the shuttle bus stop for a ride back up to the parking lot. The path goes through a tunnel in another fallen tree, the opening tall enough for a man to stand upright in it!
By late afternoon, I was ready to make my camp. I was able to get a lovely spot in the Dorst Campground, near a lovely meadow. With the tent set up and the campstove going, I was ready to settle in for an enjoyable evening!
There is a real sense of contentment to be out in the woods, with a kettle steaming away for a nice cup of hot chocolate!
Dinner hadn't been done for long when a neighboring camper shouted, "BEAR!!!!!" And right there in the meadow directly behind my tent, was a black bear, wandering by! All the campers rallied with their pots and pans, banging away, shouting and blowing whistles to scare the bear away from the campsite! Needless to say, while it was a thrill to see the bear, I didn't sleep terribly well that night, wondering if it was going to come visiting again during the night! In reality, it seemed pretty unconcerned with most of us and was busy turning over logs in search of grubs!