“In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever in life, is always a child. In the woods is perpetual youth.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays.
Leaving the desert behind us we traveled west to Sequoia, America’s Second oldest National Park, created on September 25, 1890. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, located on the southern end of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, share contiguous boundaries and since 1943 the parks have been managed jointly by the park service. You will find that the park map, visitor guide and entrance fees are all combined. Treat yourself, as we did, to both parks for twice the pleasure. Score!
The Generals Highway connects both parks and while researching Sequoia we noted visitor cautions for trailers traveling to the campgrounds. The road is described as steep with plenty of hairpin turns and vehicles longer than 22 feet are not advised between Potwisha and General Forest Museum. Having had enough treacherous driving experiences in Death Valley, we booked our stay at the privately owned Sequoia RV Ranch about five minutes from the entrance to the park! This was a good idea as we used the air conditioner to keep Skyler and us cool.
We headed to the top of the park first as we wanted to see the General Sherman Tree, billed as the world’s largest tree (by volume): measurements taken in 1975 calculated the volume of the General Sherman Tree to be slightly over 52,500 cubic feet!
We found the General’s Highway as advertised and patted ourselves on the back for not trying to bring Tex!
The Visitor Guide advised of reconstruction efforts, delays, and closures, and sure enough we encountered a half hour delay on the road not far from the Giant Forest Museum. We briefly detoured with the traffic and stopped to check out the museum – well worth the visit. Finally arriving at the parking lot, located a few miles north of the museum, we hiked the ½-mile fairly steep trail down to the General Sherman Tree. Wow! It certainly is big and even postcards can’t do it justice.
We explored a portion of the Congress Trail, gawking and craning our necks upwards, before heading back up to the top.
That’s when we spotted the black bear. There was a large group of people gathered around and the bear, for all intents and purposes, busily scoring the ground for food, could not have cared less. Rangers in the some of the Northwestern parks had told us that habituated bears can pose a real problem, especially in the California parks where Californians love their bears as much as their trees.
It wasn’t our first sighting either as we passed another black bear on the roadside on our way out!
Cautiously making our way back down the Generals Highway, we stopped to explore the quiet scenery of Crescent Meadow.
Unlike the Giant Forest area, the sequoias in the meadow remain unfettered begging to be gently hugged.
Along this trail you will find Tharp’s Log where Hale Tharp lived in a hollowed-out giant sequoia each summer from 1861 to 1890. These trees are huge, but say what?!
We also drove though the Tunnel Log where we stopped for a quick photo op.
Rounding out the day, we clambered our way to the top of Moro Rock, a granite dome accessed by a 0.25-mile strenuous climb up over 350 steps with a 300 feet elevation gain between the parking lot and the summit at 6,725 feet.
It was quite crowded and narrow and we wondered if the view would be worth the effort. It was.
Up next: Kings Canyon National Park