Monday, May 27, 2013

Back in Sequoia NP

After the wonderful family events of a wedding and a graduation – we were off to “camp”.  Or as Tiffin likes to say – “roughing it smoothly”. 

Sequoia NP is a favorite of ours, although we have only ‘visited’ in the snow – even though one trip was mid-April.  So, this trip is a whole new experience – as EVERYTHING was open!!  This provided toooo many choices.  Elizabeth FINALLY got to experience the many places closed due to snow in prior trips and Gary got to relive the family camping trips of his youth;-)

Not only do we like the NP, but we also love the camping spot we have found here (our third stay).  Kaweah RV Resort provides a beautiful, relaxing ‘home’ on the river.  

Magic had a great parking spot facing the Kaweah River.

Mmmmm..chicken with dijon, white wine and shallots.

After one day of setting up, revisiting the local hardware store (which we love) and chilling around the campsite, it was time to begin our adventures.  The first day brought a drive to the Mineral King area (closed due to snow on prior trips), which was added to the NP in 1978.  It was named in the 1870s by gold prospectors, who gained little more than unfulfilled dreams here.   Gary gained lots of fond memories here camping at the Atwell Mill campground with his parents and brother in his younger days.

Memorial Day weekend in Mineral King.

This campground looks the same as it did 50 years ago.
Day 2 – a VERY busy day!  After a stop at the Visitor Center to purchase tickets for the Crystal Cave tour, we were off to the cave (closed due to snow on prior trips).  The drive there is the same as all the drives in the park – on a narrow, steep, winding, beautiful road where the speed limit is 25-35 mph and going 25 miles, therefore, takes an hour.  One just slows down and enjoys all there is to see – which is MUCH!!  Upon arrival at the tour entrance, we ate our packed lunch so we were ‘charged up’ for the hike in and out.  Our post-tour snacks were then placed in our backpack and stowed in the bear boxes to be sure the bears didn’t get our snacks;-)   Then we were off on the beautiful ½ mile hike to the entrance of the cave – waterfalls and all –

Along the trail to Crystal Caves.

A real treat awaited us at the cave entrance.  There had been a power failure (bears/animals ‘disturbed’ electrical cables which could not be repaired until after the long Memorial Day weekend).  SO – the tour turned into a flashlight tour.  A completely different experience and LOTS of FUN!!  Crystal Cave is also different in that it is marble instead of the usual limestone.  Therefore, it really is “Crystal” in appearance.

The power in the caves was we toured by flashlight

As the day was dwindling, we opted for an easy 3-mile hike to follow up the cave tour instead of the 7 mile planned hike.  The Congress Trail taking off from the General Sherman Tree fit the bill.   In case you missed the factoid in a prior trip posting – The General Sherman sequoia tree is estimated to be 2,200 years old – its largest branch is almost seven feet in diameter - every year the General Sherman grows enough new wood to make a 60-foot-tall tree!!  AND - its circumference at the ground is nearly 103 feet – an area E doesn’t begin to fill –

This brick work was done in the actual shape and size of the base of the General Sherman tree.

On the Congress Trail (named for the institution that gave legal protection to the sequoias – AND closed due to snow on prior trips) one sees “The President” tree, “The Senate” stand of trees and “The House“ stand of trees.  It really is awe-inspiring to walk among these Giants –

The marmots were watching the people pass them by.

The President tree and friend.

And – the day was done.  Time to return to Magic for that good old-fashioned Memorial Day weekend BBQ of hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob followed by root beer floats;-)  What a day!

Roughin’ it Smoothly – Elizabeth & Gary

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