Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 29, 2015 Sequoia National Park

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir

We stayed at the Buckeye Tree Lodge in Three Rivers last night. This morning I walked down to the Kaweah River before sunrise and ate my breakfast on the rocks as the sun rose. The blueberry muffin and juice tasted so much better here than if I had eaten in our room. For me, this was the perfect way to start off my week in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. 

I suggest playing this song while checking out this blog because you should "get up and get down and get outside Cos it's a lovely sunny day".

We plan on spending all day in Sequoia National Park today. For a flat lander like me, the drive on Generals Highway from the visitor center at 1700 ft to Big Baldy at 8209 ft is a bit intimidating. But I can't wait to get out there.

Our first stop is Tunnel Rock. It looks like the road used to go through tunnel rock but no longer does. Then we stopped at Hospital Rock where the picnic area had all kinds of bear warnings.

Petroglyphs on Hospital Rock from the Potwisha Native Americans that lived in this area as far back as 1350 A.D. 

I believe this is an acorn woodpecker destroying government property.

Christy loves these signs..."pullover I need a picture of that sign" was heard many times on this trip.

Our first Giant Sequoia trees...

...since Chrissy started the Trees For You & Me charity, she had to hug one of these "big ass trees".  

Our next stop was at the Giant Forest Museum where we hiked out to Sunset Rock. It was another beautiful day and we saw lots of huge trees.

The Sentinel Tree in front of the Giant Forest Museum

We hiked down to the largest living tree in the world....

...the General Sherman Tree which is 2,200 years old is 275 feet tall, the trunk weighs about 1,385 tons and it's circumference at the ground is almost 103 feet. Since there was a long line of people waiting to pose with this tree, I took a picture with this random person standing there instead of Christy. We headed past a few more Giant Sequoias that had the bad luck of growing next to the General Sherman Tree so they didn't get named... 

...then spent a couple of hours hiking along the Congress Trail loop. 

Even though we were running out of daylight, we hiked the entire Congress Trail loop because it was so amazing to walk through a forest with so many huge trees. It was like hiking through a Land of the Giants movie and we were the little people.

I was really surprised the Giant Sequoias almost always seem to grow right next to each other. It seems strange they could all grow that big fighting for water and nutrients from the same area.

Here's Christy pretending to be the roots of this toppled Sequoia...I think the lack of oxygen at this altitude was starting to affect her...actually I got a kick out of her being the goofball instead of me being the goofball.

You might think that after seeing a few of these trees that it gets a bit redundant...not for me. I was just as amazed after seeing the first one as I was after seeing the 50th one. I spent most of the day looking skyward with complete amazement at what I was seeing. I also sounded a bit like Dustin Hoffman as the Rain Man because I kept repeating "Look at the size of that fucking tree" or "There's another big ass tree." 

It would take about 50 Chrissy's to completely hug that tree.

I switched to a fisheye lens for a little fun in the Giant Forest.

Chrissy, being a good steward of the National Parks, returned these pine cones to the ground after using them as earrings for these pictures.

Chrissy had better luck taking wildlife shots than I did... I continued to play with the fisheye lens.

Chrissy walking through the trunk of a tree.

I think Chrissy read these pine cones do not come from the Sequoias but from Sugar Pine trees.

Hiking along the Congress Trail near Circle Meadow.

We did not do this, we stumbled upon it. But my guess is that a foreigner did it because 75 percent of the people we talked to during our visits to the National Parks out here were from somewhere else. It seems to me that the rest of the world loves our National Parks more than Americans do. 

After our hike we headed out of Sequoia National Park on General's Highway... 

...through Sequoia National Forest on our way to Kings Canyon NP.

We stopped at this overlook into Kings Canyon which has been closed due to the Rough Fire which was started by lightning in late July and was just recently at 80 percent contained. As you can see in this picture and we could smell in the air, there is still a smoke haze from the canyon area up into the surrounding mountains.

Here's our home away from home for tonight...a cabin in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. We saw a bunch of firefighters staying in this area too. We told a couple of them how much we appreciated their hard work and received a smile and a thank you back from them. I find that true heroes always seem humble about their amazing deeds. Here's a link to donate to help the families of fallen firefighters lost trying to protect our wildlands...

"Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed -- chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. ... It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods -- trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries ... God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools -- only Uncle Sam can do that." - John Muir

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