A Travellerspoint blog

Day 28 Sequoia National Park

Rock, cinnamon, raccoon

sunny 16 °C

Excuse me if I'm distracted tonight but I'm needing to keep half an eye out for a raccoon that seems to have taken a fancy to our campsite. Dot thought it was a cat, but I've taught her that it's actually a raccoon, she calls it a 'coon' .....which will never do. Anyhow, he's not here at the minute so I'll continue.....


Lodgepole campground in Sequoia ended up being a great stop for us, although it was basically closed for winter and we were the only RV (beast) to stay the night. We had a big fire and Dottie got to throw stones in the stream running next to us. We were up early and off to do the Moro Rock Trail recommended to us by our friendly ranger from yesterday. (I take a quick look around me for our friend the raccoon).

The beast is prohibited from  passing out the Southern exit of Sequoia and getting to the Moro Rock meant going as far South as we are allowed, into the Giant Forest, as it is called.  There is an area of 4 square miles with hundreds of these giant trees. 

Parked up, sandwiches made, kids sorted, we set off.  About a 4 mile hike with the ascent of Moro Rock the objective. There is actually a road to the base of the climb, but the beast was 8 ft too long, so the 4 mile hike is our only option. 

Throughout our time in both Canada and the US we have been amazed at the friendliness of everyone we have met (bar a few exceptions). Yesterday whilst dragging the double buggy (stroller) up flight after flight of steps from the General Sherman Tree I was repeatedly offered help. Today as we set off, kids on our backs for Moro Rock, and a car returning from the Moro Rock Road pulled up and suggested we should drive. We said we couldn't as our RV was too big. We set off. They set off. About a minute later they returned and offered to take us. They had obviously driven off, thought about us, and then decided to go out of their way to offer us help. We were very touched. To conclude our 'aren't people generally nice' day,  at the campsite tonight we were lent $10 by a couple from New England who we had literally just met, as we had no change. They were on a two year 'all the National Parks in the US' trip. Wow!!!. There are a lot of good people on the planet (you'll be pleased to know we have paid them back.....although we did consider just making a run for it....joke!!)

Nat and I had to stand to eat dinner tonight. It seems our raccoon friend has a nose for Nat's gourmet pasta thingy. He's no fool. He has no fear, and between you and me is a little scary (what would we be like if we met a bear!!)

We hike the Moro Rock Trail for 4 hours today, and don't see another hiker. Through what seemed like endless sequoia groves. Silent. Beautiful.


We get our first view of Moro Rock at a place called Hanging Rock. You can see that Moro Rock  is another 'dome', much like Half Dome in Yosemite. Climbing it is going to be fun.


Hanging Rock is a precariously positioned boulder on the edge of a cliff. Not sure the picture gets the drop over, but here goes.....


Moro Rock is 350 steps up over quarter of a mile with railings protecting some of the drops, but feeling awfully exposed. In any other situation we would have been knackered from the climb but we didn't think about the steps once on the way up, as our concentration was totally focused on the breathtaking height and views (Nats knees went again, just like Taft Point!)


We deviated off the Moro Rock Trail on the way home to take in Bear Hill,Mia the Bear Hill Trial. Lunching at the top of the hill I spent the whole time scanning the horizon for bears. I felt convinced they would smell our sandwiches.


There is no feeling like the feeling of taking of your hiking boots at the end of a long day and sipping an ice cold beer.


Posted by cpbrooks 08:52 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Day 27 Kings Canyon to Sequoia National Park

Birthday, trees, closed

sunny 18 °C

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you......Officially taken on Day 26 but although still Saturday here it was Sunday in the UK, Mary's 18th birthday. I love you Mary.


It's only 27 miles down the Generals Highway (joining General Grant tree in Kings Canyon National Park with General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park), but before heading off we had more important things to do. Today, the 14th October 2012 is also my daughter, Mary's, 18th birthday. It was lovely to see her on FaceTime and, although she was clearly hungover (naughty girl!), she was as beautiful as ever. I'm sad not to be with her on her birthday. Dottie and Finn were thrilled to see Mary, and Dot made her jump up and down, for fun  (although not a great hangover cure)

Climbing back up over 7000 ft as we travelled from Kings Canyon to Sequoia the view was breathtaking. Once again we can't believe out luck as the skies remain clear blue.


Sequoia National Park, as the name suggests, is all about trees. Big trees, really big trees. Some of them are over 3000 years old and the biggest of them all, the General Sherman Tree is over 52,000 cubic feet in volume, weighing over 1,300 tonnes and has a circumference of 40 ft. It's biggest branch is 7 feet in diameter. It is....the largest tree in the world.


In Grant Grove the trees were all named after States, but here the theme is more around American political history and governance. There is a tree called The President, a group called The House, another The Senate. This is a view of The Senate from within, looking directly up. I wonder what would happen if The Senate got burnt down or blown over in the wind?


To put the whole thing into perspective, we followed the Congress Trail and managed to get a bit closer to some of the trees than you can around the famous ones (the majority of people walked straight to General Sherman, took a picture and walked off again). I'm sure this tree has a name, but it was one of hundreds we saw along the trail......hopefully Dot gives you some of that perspective.


Sequoia is all but closed for winter. We are staying in the only campsite that remains open for large RVs and are the only RV here, with half a dozen tents. We have a fire by the side of a stream and it is so quiet (except for Finley crying as he won't go down to sleep!!!), its almost perfect.


Posted by cpbrooks 16:21 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Day 26 Kings Canyon

sunny 20 °C

First light brought with it  some sun and some cloud, an improvement on yesterday but giving no clue as to which way it was going to go for the rest of the day. With just one day to see Kings Canyon we needed some luck. Heading out on the road to Cedar Grove and King Canyon we were relieved to see that although there was plenty of cloud, it was well below us. 6500 ft is the highest we've camped.


Kings Canyon started to show itself to us as we meandered down the endless turns of the precariously placed road on the mountain sides. The Sierra Nevada here rises very quickly and as a result the scenes are dramatic. 


Driving the beast continues to be a challenge. I'm now contending with rock overhang on the bends and having to use most of the road where I can, fortunately there are very few people about. It seems we are almost the last people to visit Kings Canyon this year. 


Our plan is to visit Cedar Grove village, the valley view point, Roaring River falls and Road End (aptly named as it is basically the end of the road and you can only cross the Sierra Nevada East from here on foot.....good luck). We then picnic lunched, which looks great in the picture below but ended up in a wasp infestation and a retreat on our part to the beast (cowards)


Finley had Mary's 18th birthday (tomorrow) on his mind and decided to wear his t-shirt from Zante


Post lunch we hiked at Zumwalt Meadows. A 1.5 mile loop around the valley floor.  Perfect, just what we needed, Dottie walked most of the way and is now insisting we take random pictures of her posing. It was hot. She's picked up the saying 'yeah, we made it' as we get back to the beast (from Day 24's 5 mile hike we think....where both Nat and I said just that), even if we only jump out to go to the shop (store) or take a picture.


Heading back out of Kings Canyon we stopped to see the General Grant Tree, supposedly the third largest tree in the world. Sadly not allowed anywhere near it so you can't see how big it is from the pictures, but believe me, it's big. We should see the largest tree in the world when we get to Sequoia National Park tomorrow. You can see Nat, Finn and Dot in the shell of one of these great trees that feel over hundreds of years ago and which has previously been used as a hotel and a saloon


Posted by cpbrooks 09:35 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Day 25 Yosemite to Kings Canyon

Fog, rain, provisions

rain 10 °C

If you were expecting pictures of big blue skies and magnificent scenery I'd skip today and check out tomorrow's blog (hopefully).

The day starts with drizzle and cloud down to about 1000 ft in the Yosemite Valley. It's time to leave. We decide the $5 a shower charge is worth it after 3 days and Nat and Dot head for a full hair wash session at Curry Village while I'm left with the Finn and blog updates (my turn to shower later). Coffee bought and an accidental banana and nut muffin (shush) and I'm of to the Guest Lounge. 

The Guest Lounge is a bit like a library without the books. It's an old wooden building with heating, power points and wifi. It's where all the campers come to gather, drink coffee, tell stories of their adventures and get to know each other........actually, it where everyone goes to wifi. With a bit of rocking, Finn drops off and I'm left to my coffee, muffin and wifi. There must be 30 people in the lounge and the wifi runs like of dog. I'm only at photo 3 (of 10) from yesterday's blog when Nat and Dot return (sweet smelling......at last). I was meant to have finished. It strikes me that we can either do the trip OR the blog, but not both, there just isn't time!!


The shower is the best I've had in ages.

Heading South from Yosemite on highway 41 we are in the cloud. Im having to give it 100% concentration to keep the beast on the road. Not nice. Continually pulling over to let cars pass and at one point stopping for the man with the dullest job in the world.


With just 20 yards visibility the pace is slow. As we descend South towards Fresno we drop out of the cloud. I've done over an hour of continual left and right turns, winding our way down to the flat lands. We refuel (gas), get supplies and head East on the 180. We pass fruit trees that stretch as far as the eye can see. Apples, grapes, pears and oranges. 


The wild pear trees change the colour of the landscape, adding a copper red. The beast begins to labour as we hit the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, working the gears. Cloud is eager to take us again and we enter the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway with zero visibility. 


We pass markers for 1000 ft, 2000 ft, and on we climb until we reach 6000 ft. The snow poles at the side of the road start at about 4000 ft and we hope the weather, although wet, doesn't turn cold. It's coming.

A day of driving, refuelling, cloud and rain and both Nat and I are pleased to reach Azalea, our campground in Grant Grove. We are at 6500 ft. The beast makes a poor attempt at hiding behind a tree.


After a long day Dot takes time out to entertain her 'ikkle bruver' with a game of peek a boo.


Posted by cpbrooks 17:15 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 24 Yosemite

Rain, snow, sun, fog

all seasons in one day 5 °C

It's cold today. Overcast and there is talk of snow. We've just had coffee at Coffee Corner in Curry Village and are setting off for Glacier Point. It's now raining in the valley, I'm expecting a tough hike at the top. It's odd but not a curry in sight at Curry Village.......just pizza, maybe Pizza Village would have made more sense (truth is its named after a couple called Curry who started the first watering hole there).

We head off to Glacier Point and pass a sign saying vehicles over 30ft are prohibited beyond mile 14. The beast is 30 feet long. 16 miles to Glacier Point - the last 2 miles could be interesting. The road up shows off the colours of the forest.


We make it, with little to worry about but the weather.  Black clouds above and rain starts before we exit the beast. Snow, in fact, just a little. Kids are all wrapped up for a stroll to the point but we're doubtful we'll see much.


As luck would have it, the skies clear and Yosemite finally reveals her treasures. We are perched on Glacier Point 7200 feet above Yosemite Valley floor at 4000 ft......a sheer drop of 3000 ft. It's unnerving with the kids with us and we watch Dot like hawks. Our friend the rainbow returns.


From Glacier Point we can see the Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail we took yesterday, our campsite, Half Dome and El Capitan. We take off our hats, gloves, scarves and coats as the steam rises from the rocks and pathways around us. Suddenly it's hot in the sun. The change and contrast in a 10 minute space of time is amazing.

We lunch half way back down Glacier Point Road and head off to do the 5 mile Sentinel Dome, 8122 ft and Taft Point, 7503 ft loop trail. The clouds return and we expect snow or rain as we set off. Sentinel Dome is higher than pretty much everything in the valley bar Half Dome and from the top we could see 360 degrees.


From Sentinel to Taft Point we didn't see anyone else on the trail, complete solitude, concern about missing the trail and the weather. Walking now above the cloud base it is suddenly very quiet and very isolated. We follow horse shoe tracks which gives us confidence we are on the right path. We see deer.


Reaching Taft Point was a relief and we then knew we only had 1.1 miles to go. The kids are heavy but we persevere. Taft point has one tiny section railed off the rest is sheer 3000 ft vertical drop to the valley floor. Nat dares to look over and I reluctantly follow. We are not as brave with kids strapped to us. Dottie shows no fear at all. She loved it. The clouds billows over the cliff edge. We head home.


Rain, snow, blue, grey, sun, rainbow, fog and this wonderful sunset to finish off the day.


No showers for 3 days now.

Posted by cpbrooks 09:22 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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