Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Giant Rock, Giant Trees, and A Great Lookout

Joe, Pap-Pap and Ned Atop Moro Rock

Monday morning we woke up late. I had been using the alarm on my phone and found that the battery was dead and would not charge. Getting everyone up we checked out of the hotel and found a phone store. They didn't have a replacement battery but called around and managed to find one at another store. With all of that we still got to the airport in time to pick up my dad. We actually had to wait a bit since his bags were delayed getting off the plane. Once loaded up we turned north and headed for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The drive up through the Central Valley was uneventful. We stopped at In-N-Out Burger for lunch making a new fan in Pap-Pap. Joe had his second burger with cheese this time. Before long we were climbing into the mountains.

As the road twisted and turned its way into the Sierras we caught glimpses of Moro Rock and then the trees. Giant Sequoias are...giant. We found ourselves hanging out of the windows gazing up in awe at impossibly tall trees. It began to rain as we made our way to the campground and we set up the tent in the rain. Joe figured that it was the fastest we ever made camp. Soon after the tent was up the rain ended and a rainbow appeared through the trees.

One thing we had been warned about were the bears in the park. All food and any perfumed items (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.) must be kept in a bear box. The bear will break into cars trying to get what they think is food. That night there were at least two bears incursions into the campground. They didn't get near our site and were chased off by campers on the edge of the campground.

Moro Rock as We Drove Into the Park

Trees to Gape At in Wonder

A Rainbow After the Rain

This morning we headed out to see the park. First we went to Crescent Meadow, a lovely, grassy, open area, that John Muir called, "the gem of the Sierra." We hiked around the meadow and passed Tharp's Log, a fallen fire-hollowed Sequoia log, in which Hale Tharp built a summer cabin in 1860. We stopped at the Auto Log which you used to be able to drive your car on and the Tunnel Log which we drove under. We then headed to the top of Moro Rock for a ranger program on climate in the park.

Moro Rock is a granite dome and has a 1/4 mile trail of nearly 400 steps to the top. It would offer a great view of the Great Western Divide except that because of air pollution you cannot see very far. The ranger did say that because of the rain it was the best view in a month.

Crescent Meadow "the Gem of the Sierra"

A Bee Seeks the Nectar of the Leopard Lily

Pap-Pap Checks Out Tharp's Log

The Auto Log

Dancing on a Log Over the Car

The Stairs to the Top of Moro Rock

The Ned and Joe Lead the Way Down from Moro Rock

After descending Moro Rock we went to the Giant Forest. Named by John Muir in 1875 it is the park's most famous attraction. Trails thread through the trees so you can can stop and marvel at them as John Muir did, "Giants grouped in pure temple groves, or arranged in colonnades along the sides of meadows." The northern part of the Giant Forest is home to the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. It is 275 ft tall and has a 103 ft circumference at its base and it is still growing. To use Ned's words, "that tree is huge!" It started to rain on our hike through the forest and we stopped at the Giant Forest Museum to wait out the rain. Afterward we to the Lodgepole Visitor Center where the boys received Junior Ranger badges (their sixth this trip!) and had dinner.

The Giant Forest

Look at Us in a Tree!

The General Sherman Tree

The Sentinel Towers Over the Giant Forest Museum

Since it was still a bit early we drove into the Sequoia National Forest to visit the Buck Rock Lookout. It sits atop a granite dome and offers a breathtaking view of the high mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To reach the top you have to climb a series of stairs suspended from the side of the rock. The building was constructed in 1923 and is historically significant as a representation of the earliest 4-A style live-in lookouts of which there are only three in existence in the world today.

We had a nice conversation with the fire watcher about her job and the hummingbirds that regularly visit her. She lives there five days of the week. It was now pretty late so we headed back to our tent. Tomorrow we are heading for Yosemite!

The Buck Rock Lookout

A Steep Flight of Stairs

Los Angeles, CA to Sequoia National Park, CA, 253 miles 5 hrs 50 min

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