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General Grant in Snow
January 25, 2017Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
Written January 26+
Fresnans are proud that we are near a number of National Parks and, even in winter, we can take day trips to at least four. We had been hearing how dramatic the recent snowfall has been in the Sierra Nevada parks so, as soon as the roads were reliably cleared, I wanted to make a photo excursion. Our easiest National Park is Kings Canyon. Most of it is already snowed in until Spring, but the trees at Grant Grove were accessible.
Driving east, we passed miles of citrus and stone fruit orchards. Some of them were new trees, still in their Christmas wrapping. Or, so it seemed. I take it that this is a sign of a harsh winter locally, because we have never seen this type of orchard protection. This is another reminder that farming, even in as benign a climate as Fresno County, can be dependent on events that are hard to control. Too complex for me.
Those fields are under 1,000 feet in elevation and seldom see snow, but, by the time we had climbed to about 4,000 feet, the hills were becoming white-speckled and the road showed signs of having been recently plowed. The not-needed-today chain pull-off areas gave us a place to park and enjoy the view.
Nearer the entrance to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, snow was more dramatic and we were even more grateful for the work of the plows. There had been reports of seven to ten feet of snow over the previous weekend and, as we got higher, we could see this was no exaggeration. Even on a nice day like today, chains or four-wheel-drive were required to go beyond the park entrance - just in case.
Our first stop was Grant Grove, a Kings Canyon destination that we always take our visitors to because it is relatively easy to reach and shows off the majesty of the sequoia trees. We had never been here in real winter, so I was looking forward to seeing the difference the snow cover had made.
I found that the snow had improved an already-spectacular setting. I could not stop clicking away, trying to capture the feel of this winter wonderland. Big trees. Small trees. Seasonal streams where paths normally are. Graceful mounds of snow piled on fence posts, stream beds, paths, and trees. Too many pictures again, but that's what I do. Here is the story in pictures.
After Grant Grove, we headed to our only other goal: John Muir Lodge. We wanted to investigate to see if this might be a place worth staying. Next week we will stay in Yosemite and I had considered an overnight visit here instead. However, we'd never seen the place and their website warned that food service is not currently up to standards because a new dining facility is being built.
In fact, the snow-covered lodge was just charming. Andrew, one of only two staff we saw around the lobby, was more than happy to show us an example room that was large, clean, and, by all appearances, fine for us. He said this time of year is great, because there is space just about any day, whereas the lodge is already fully-booked for June through August.
And that food problem? Andrew showed us the "temporary" lunch and dinner menus, so we took a break and ordered "Sierra Hamburgers". The setting was cozy and the burgers were simple but tasty. We came away convinced that we must return for a break from our hectic Fresno winter schedule.
By now, it was time to head home, so we left the park and started the downhill ride. I made a stop to try a picture of a seasonal waterfall and to try to capture the late afternoon valley silhouettes. The pictures are not as good as the memories, but that is often the case.
So now we have another National Park destination and another reason to believe in Fresno. Not that we NEED one, of course. Just sayin'.
Next week we have a few days at Yosemite and later in February we will head over to Death Valley. Stay tuned.
John and Marianne
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