Dear Friends and Families,
written March 20+
We needed a break from
chores and house matters, so we booked a couple of days up in Sequoia
National Park. A great break. We drove directly east from
Fresno on the Kings Canyon Highway, past orange orchards, with a few
snow-capped peaks off in the distance. Normally, we might worry
about snow up at our 7000-foot destination, but this year only the
highest areas of the Sierras have the white stuff. Easy driving,
but not what local farmers and gardeners would
prefer, not to mention the poor skiers.
At the entrance to Kings Canyon Park, we bought our National Park
passes for $10 each, a real bargain because they are good FOREVER, one
of the few benefits of being seniors. The Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon and Sequoia
National Parks form one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower-48 states,
an area with no roads at all. Of course, we were on the more
civilized parts on nice, but twisty, roads.
|Long, flat, straight drive before the mountains
We had booked a room at the Wuksachi Lodge in the middle of the Sequoia
National Park. The room was modern, but a bit simple. The
bar served good wine and the restaurant had a broad selection, served
in a wonderful window-lined room. We could get used to this.
|Forest entrance and a view over the wilderness area.
Once we hit mountains, the road became twisty and the forest much more dramatic
After dinner, we settled in and were asleep by 9, since there was poor
wifi and no cell phone coverage - not quite off-the-net, but close.
Out the window was a tree with a most interesting top formation -- a whole forest up in the air.
Thursday morning I
was up early, as usual, and headed out to take a few pictures.
Stop one was the lodge parking lot, where I tried to capture the
sunrise. When I am up in time for sunrise, I take a picture, no
matter where I am or how good the picture might be. It's
the memory I'm after. After that, I headed south and stopped
first at the
Wolverton "Snow Fun Area". This year, it was just an open field,
but I could imagine the meadow filled with kids and sleds and
saucers. Maybe next year.
The next stop was The Giant Forest, home to the General Sherman
tree, the largest
tree, by volume or weight, in the world. I had the Forest all to myself
and the trees were truly amazing in their size and majesty. (The rather dull lighting and the
scale of the trees made good pictures beyond me, but the memories
that, it was a leisurely breakfast with Marianne back at Wuksachi. Then
I headed out for a hike while she made good use of the lodge ambiance
to read, write a note or two, and contemplate doing art.
|General Sherman, the largest tree in the world.
This cousin of Sherman had been cut in the early 1900's to protect
rental cabins, which were allowed back then. Nowadays, no cabins and no
cutting. The remaining risk is fire, but the giant Sequoias can
recover from most fires by restoring the protective thick bark.
Our waiter had recommended "an easy hike" on the Little Baldy Saddle,
just a few minutes up the road. I hauled all my photo gear along just
in case I came across that perfect moment. That didn't happen, nor did
I finish the trail, but it was fun being alone in the woods.
On the drive back, I stopped on the side of the road to look out over the San Joaquin Valley, our new home.
After lunch, Marianne and I took a driving tour of several of the other
famous named Sequoias, starting with The Sentinel, just in front of the
Giant Forest Museum. We had intended to have a presentation by a
park person, but were told that was only on Saturday. However, I
guess we looked so disappointed that the museum people took pity on us
and took us outside for an impromptu explanation on the history and
ecology of the local forest. Thanks. From there is was more
giant trees, until I think we were saturated.
The final stop was Moro Rock Trail. The view from the top
promised to be absolutely spectacular, but I'll admit I chickened out
about halfway up. Heights are not my thing and, despite the
presence of strong (80-year-old) guardrails, my knees were shaking. Too much
walking today. What I did see was nice enough.
The drive-through log, the four guard trees, and the "Auto Log"
are often-photographed standards (see below for historic comparisons).
(Need a few historical pictures -- later)
One more stop at Sherman, to give Marianne a chance to say she'd seen it all, and it was home to Wuksachi.
almost never use pictures Marianne or I did not take, but for Sequoia
it is fun to look at tourism from long ago and make sure we had
seen the change.
|19th Century Army guards around General Sherman
The Tunel Tree and Auto Log
The Giant Forest Museum used to be a very busy market before commercial activity was removed from the Giant Forest in the 1960s.
Early Moro Rock climbers; braver than me!
Friday there was no early morning photography, just another leisurely
breakfast before we headed down into the valley and home. On that
drive, we descended from 7,000- to 304-foot elevation and gas mileage
was terrific. The Audi started out showing 90 miles left in the
tank and, by the time we had descended most of the way, the gauge read
275 miles! We also went from jacket to shorts weather.
Now we are home again, and will be restarting chores, but we will remember our little break among giants.
Stay in touch.
John and Marianne