Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Yoo 685 - Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Getting to Sequoia/Kings Canyon national parks took extra hours because of an Apple maps fail. We set the destination from Yosemite and just trusted it was taking us on the fastest/most direct route.

It wasn't.

That map led us on backroads for hours, winding up and around hills for seemingly days. Then a storm moved in that made the landscape feel creepy and we strongly questioned our bearings. Then the storm dissipated and we continued to strongly question our bearings. This is one of those scenarios when we would have been far better off with a paper map.

So we weren't the happiest of campers when we finally pulled into the visitor station. Especially with all the rangers squealing about the "white elephant". Aka, one of the mountains had snow. They also weren't as helpful as I would have preferred in choosing a backcountry campsite so we left with a newspaper and literal and figurative rain clouds above our heads. Except in a few thousand feet they would be snow clouds.

More driving.

And then Moro rock. Morale improved at Moro rock. We started climbing up the hundreds of stairs in a thick fog, wondering if there would even be a view at the top. But we did something right and it was just incredible with clouds parting and converging all around us.

For the record, this is mostly what our visibility was like. Don't let the other pretty pictures fool you.

It was cool and super cool.

Then we drove thru the trunk of a massive Sequoia, and tried to take a picture to prove it, but somehow that picture got lost. So no proof. But we did it!

Also the General Sherman tree. Biggest living tree on the planet. Not to be confused with the tallest or widest. As you hike down to this tree from the parking lot, there are signs that mark when you're at the top, middle and, obviously, bottom of the tree.

It's big.

Eventually the sun set and we needed a place to camp, pronto. I think we ended up at the Lodgepole campsites? Don't quote me on that. They're your typical car camp sights but we weren't complaining. Someone even left us a table centerpiece:

We quickly threw our tent up, made dinner, and then walked around joking about bears. And trying to find the warmest restroom.

At around midnight that evening, looooooong after we'd fallen asleep, we were awoken by screaming and honking at a distant campsite. I'm guessing this meant we should have taken the bear signs a little more seriously. This went on for 15-20 minutes.

After that, my next two night restroom jaunts were terrifying. Why did I drink so much water?? I imagined what it would be like to be sitting in a stall and look down at the floor to see furry bear paws next to me.

Nevertheless, we did survive the night sans bear encounter.

And then we hiked some more.

To a waterfall with no water!

Sun! Warm us up!

Then on to more trails. Except first we got stuck behind a sloooooooow car from Nevada. After eight years, we had a rare opportunity to pass it. Ten minutes later there was a gas station and we had to stop to fuel up. Only to pull back on the highway right behind...the Nevada car.


Luckily there was a turn-off for a dirt road just a few miles later and we opted for the detour.

Our best adventures have been found at the end of bumpy dirt roads. This one was no exception.

Something along the lines of the "Hart Tree/Goliath Loop" and "Sugar Bowl Loop" trails. They were amazing and we were so wishing we'd found them the night before and could have backpacked/camped there. Just a couple cars in the parking lot and the trail was peaceful and serene. A pine-needle covered trail thru centuries-old giant trees.

Many had obviously survived fires and were still going strong! But don't breathe too hard on them...

The pinecones...

Eventually we left and saw a man walking his cat on a leash at the visitor's center.

More walks around giant trees.

And that was about that. I'm hoping the next time I'm here, it's because I'm finishing the John Muir Trail. There's so much of Kings Canyon I still want to see.

Have a great day :-)

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