Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sequoia NP- The Land of the Giants

Another wonderful day - although not what we expected. And - another day of learning.

I think I stood in front of this with my brother Ken...about 55 years ago!

The number one thing learned - do NOT visit Sequoia NP or King’s Canyon NP in the Spring - wait until Fall. Because - the word for the day was - CLOSED;-(

We eagerly approached the Foothills Visitor Center at the south entrance to Sequoia NP armed with our National Geographic “Guide to the National Parks of the United States” (a great book, by the way), which very specifically ‘mapped’ out our adventures for the next five days. A very informative, patient Ranger listened as the itinerary was presented to him -

Day 1 - Drive and hike Mineral King - CLOSED;-(

Day 2 - Drive and tour Crystal Cave - CLOSED;-(

Day 3 - Drive and hike Moro Rock - CLOSED;-(

Day 4 - Drive and hike Cedar Grove - CLOSED;-(

Day 5 - Giant Forest & Grant Grove - GO FOR IT;-)) !!!!

YEAH - we found one day’s activities that were open, which means NOT covered under SIX feet of snow. Don’t ask what the thought process was - but the fact that most of the park is at 7,000+ feet and might still have at least some snow affecting activities - NEVER entered our minds.

There is a bulletin board somewhere behind this pile of snow.

Oh well, just modify - as we have become quite adept at.

We started our day fairly early, as the trip up Generals Highway to the Giant Grove had to be timed with the road opening/closure (apparent much needed road work was being completed and traffic was only allowed thru the work area on the hour). Our timing was pretty good - the wait gave us just enough time to at least get a picture of Moro Rock -from the ‘back’ side. This was a Gary memory - he and his brother climbing on the top of this on camping trips with their parents;-) What we couldn’t do was the drive to the back side and the climb of 400 steps to a top view of the giant sequoias.

Too bad we can't actually climb Moro rock today. Too much ice and snow on the trail.

Waiting our turn.

Finally, we entered the Giant Forest - where the Four Guardsmen greeted all who came.

Elizabeth is actually standing in between the middle two of the Four Guardsmen.

This may sound silly - but, there is a definite ‘aura’ and peaceful feeling when you enter and walk thru the groves of sequoias. Each tree also looks and feels like it has its own personality. It is so appropriate that these wonders are protected (mostly from logging) in a National Park - the second oldest NP.

In all the world, sequoias grow naturally only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, most often between 5,000 and 7,000 feet of elevation. The giant sequoia has a massive trunk, huge stout branches, and cinnamon-colored bark. It grows to over 300 feet with a base over 40 feet in diameter (that is 6 Gary’s laid head to feet!!), branches to 8 feet in diameter and live over 3,200 years!! They don’t die. Chemicals in the wood and bark provide resistance to insects and fungi, and thick bark insulates them from most fire. The main cause of sequoia deaths is toppling. And, once they fall they remain forever on the forest floor as the chemicals in the wood also prevent rot.

This has been used for everything from a residence to a bar.

We did get in a short ‘hike’ along the road and up to see the General Sherman Tree - 2,100 years old, 274.9 feet tall and 102.6 feet in circumference. In mass, this is the largest living tree. It grows enough new wood every year to make a 60-foot-tall tree of usual proportions AND a 13-story building could fit beneath its lowest branch!! Can you even see Gary -

General Sherman, worlds largest living thing.

Can you see Gary at the base?

Can you see me now?

Our original plan was to take the 2 mile hike around the General Sherman Tree, stop at a beautiful spot and eat our picnic lunch. But - all we could find was snow;-(

So much for our picnic lunch, here.

After a picnic lunch in the car, General Grant Grove called. Here resides the General Grant Tree, which is 267.4 feet tall and 107.6 feet in circumference. Another little factoid - it would take 21 people holding hands to encircle this sequoia!!

The General Grant and you know who.

What an amazing sense of life in this grove of giants.

Again, the feeling of tranquility that overcomes you as you walk thru these groves is pretty powerful - and awe inspiring.

Big and little.

Our trip back to Magic was filled with many more beautiful sights - too many to post. Our camp is also beautiful and relaxing - a room with a view -

View from our living room.

This was a day of new adventure for Elizabeth (who had never been to this NP) and a day of reminiscing for Gary (who spent many summers in these parks as a Dad with his kids and as a kid himself!). Gary learned that all is not as we remember it - the area he ‘swore’ he spent many summers camping in - was NOT where he remembered it at all;-( Elizabeth re-learned that our National Parks are a wonder and every penny we spend on them is well spent (and not enough!!)!! AND - the Giant Sequoias are Mighty!

Still having fun - E & G from Magic

No comments:

Post a Comment