Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good-bye, Coarsegold -- Hello, Sequoia/Kings Canyon

Roger here....  I could not leave the Park of the Sierras without a couple of sunset pictures.  Our last night in the park provided us with some beautiful sunset pictures.  I love taking sunset pictures and speculate each night how good they might be.  (Dianne hates this, by the way, and threatens to hide the camera).  At any rate, I was not disappointed with these shots.

OK, enough of the sunsets....  After three weeks just outside Yosemite, we moved on to the Sequoia RV Ranch just outside Sequoia National Park.  We spent three nights in this tranquil park next to a rushing mountain stream. 
 Our view of the river and the mountains from behind the motor home was so peaceful and relaxing. 
 The sounds of the flowing water lulled us to sleep every night.  AND, Dianne finished many Sudokus :-)
We spent one (very full) day touring and hiking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  We are going to tackle this in the format of He Likes - She Likes with a few (very few, considering the wonders we saw) Mutual Dislikes.


1.  Driving the Toyota on the curvy roads.  Kind of like an amusement park ride, and we did not drive off the side of the mountain.  Some people might not like it (memories of my mom many years ago stomping on the floorboard of the car when she thought dad was driving too fast), but I thought it was fun.  Here is a view from above:
2.  Everything about the 400-step walk to the top of Moro Rock...

Watching Dianne force her way up the steps.

The spectacular views from every direction....

Walking through the narrow rock passageways (I just love climbing on and walking through rocks)...
The dramatic vertical drops  (thankfully, there were handrails)...

3.  The amazing drive into Kings Canyon.  Every mile into the canyon became more spectacular than the last.  Eventually, as the canyon narrowed, the road hugged one side of the canyon while colorful vertical cliffs went straight up from the roaring river below. 

 We took lots of pictures of the drive into the canyon, but the most magical moment to me was not something that could be photographed.  As we dropped deeper into the canyon, the walls of the lower cliffs seems to physically move upward like a huge curtain rising from the ground, causing the mountains in the background to literally disappear.  (You probably had to be there.)

4.  The fluorescent lime-green lichens on the rocks.  Lichens will only grow in non-polluted air.  It makes me happy to enjoy some of the simple things that nature gives us.
5.  The giant sequoia trees.  We saw them at Yosemite and, quite honestly, they do not look any different, but they are still mind-boggling.  The  General Sherman Tree is not necessarily pretty, but this tree is the largest tree (by mass) on the planet.  The top is now dead, but the rest of the tree is still alive and continues to increase in circumference.
6.  Storing our lunch in a bear-proof container at every parking lot, before hitting the trails.  I am sure this would be a pain after the novelty wore off, but for us it was something new.  A little excitement - preventing bears from breaking into our car.  And more good news....  no humans stole our lunch from the bear containers.


(I promise, no sunset photos. -- D.)
1.  Do you see anything unusual about this giant log?  

Here's a photo of it taken from the other end.   

Our wrong turn on the Crescent Meadow trail allowed us to discover Tharp Log.  

Here's a photo of the interior.  There was a shelf, table and bench, and pallet bed inside the log!  I tried to imagine what it must have been like to  live inside the log like Mr. Tharp.  He even had a little fireplace and tiny window.  How cool!!

2.  Driving the Matrix through tunnel tree:

3.  The beautiful contrast of the yellow fall leaves along the drive into King's Canyon:

4.  The very interesting book I purchased in the Sequoia Visitor's Center, entitled "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey."  I've always been fascinated by the westward expansion, and now that I've experienced a month in and around both sides of the Sierra Nevada, I can't imagine crossing them in a covered wagon!  

I paid $17.35 (including tax) for the book in the gift store, but if you're interested or just want to read the reviews and description, here's a link to it on Amazon:  (I should have waited!!) 

5. The worst part of my day turned out to be one of the best experiences. I accidentally left my new National Park Passport book in the restroom at the King's Canyon visitor center, and didn't realize it until we had driven the two hours back on switchback roads to the campground. I was so mad at myself! Since I bought my book at Bandolier National Monument, I had date stamps for Bandolier National Monument, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia, and King's Canyon National parks. Many of these are difficult to get to without driving hours over twisty roads and sharp grades, and I knew we'd probably not make it back to some of them. 

We had no cell phone service or internet at the campground, so I was stuck. Then I remembered the "Oh, Ranger!" booklet we had picked up in Bishop for Sequoia/King's Canyon. Inside I found a phone number for lost and found. The next morning, I drove to the little market in Three Rivers where I could get a Verizon signal. With a feeling of dread I dialed the number (I knew I had not gotten around to put my name, address, or phone number in the book.) 

Imagine my delight to find a very helpful voice, Mary, on the line who went out of her way to track down my passport and arrange for it to be mailed to my South Dakota address! She really did go out of her way, because the phones were down at the King's Canyon visitor center and she had no way to contact them until they were repaired. On Saturday when we left Three Rivers for Paso Robles and re-entered a Verizon network, there was a message from Mary on my cell phone that she had tracked down my passport booklet and they would mail it to me!!  

In this age of automated phone trees and indifferent customer service, I suspected my passport was gone for good. Thanks to Mary I will be able to continue happily getting my park stamps! Back to Roger....


1.  Road Construction!!!!!  At the south entrance to Sequoia NP there was a lighted sign indicating that there would be ONE- TO TWO-HOUR DELAYS on the main park road.  UGH!  We had dealt with this at Yosemite.  At Sequoia, they only let cars through every two hours!  Since we missed the 8:00 a.m. caravan through the construction, our pass-through time would not be until 10:00 a.m.  Our day got much longer before it even started, and we were forced to pare down our planned activities for the day.

2.  We took what was supposed to be a one-mile loop-hike around Crescent Meadow.  It was pretty, scattered with Sequoias, and isolated - no other people.  However, the trail was not well marked.  The first part was paved, but when the trail split after half a mile, there was no indication as to which fork to take.  We opted to stay on the paved portion, which was a mistake, because our hike on a time-delayed day then became a two-mile hike.  There is some good news, though.  We found one of Dianne's favorite things by taking the longer route.

3.  The infernal tiny black flies that attacked us at many of our stops.  Hundreds of them buzzing in our eyes and ears.  Landing on our faces.  Non-stop swatting (literally non-stop -- good upper body exercise?).  Unbearable, at times.  (Dianne here:  I'd never seen anything like it!  We needed nets over our heads.  I wanted to put chapstick on, but didn't dare or I would have had bug-encrusted lips!  We couldn't breathe through our mouths on the steps up Moro Rock or even talk to each other without eating some extraneous protein.)

4.  Snow on the road sides!  As full-time RVers, it has been our goal to avoid snow at all costs.  But even on a mid-sixty-degree day,  there it was:

5.  Not having more time to spend in Kings Canyon.  The road construction really messed up our day.  The drive back was going to be a long one.  We had to set an early departure time to get home before dark.  Although driving on the twisty roads was fun, it would not be fun in the dark.

6.  Dianne taking a picture of me pointing at the General Sherman trail-head.  This would not normally be a problem.  I don't mind acting silly from time to time.  However, because I did not know she had already taken the picture, I continued to stand there, looking like a fool, when in fact Dianne was a hundred yards away hot-footing it to the restrooms.  I asked her if she had taken the picture a couple of times, complaining that my arm was getting tired, but received no response (not unusual :-).  When I finally dropped my arm and turned around,  she was gone.  This is actually not a mutual dislike because Dianne thought it was funny.  She actually laughed at me when I caught up to  her.  (Dianne again:  I still laugh when I look at this dumb-looking photo and wonder how many others saw him standing there like this!  Also funny was the typo I caught when proofreading this blog where he originally had ["...I continued to stand there, looking like a foot...."]).  
Despite the irritations of the day, we would repeat it in a heartbeat.  

We were without internet during our stay at Sequoia - those darn trees were in the way.  So, we are a little behind on our posting.  Sorry, this one was a little long.  Our next post will be from the wine country near Paso Robles.  Be sure to check it out.  We had an interesting travel day.

The whippet picture of the day....

We took pity on the boys after leaving them all day when we went to Sequoia/King's Canyon, so they got a hot dog all their own when we got back.  Here Jasper is supervising my cutting the hot dogs into pieces for them.


John and Ellen said...

Really well done. I loved the pictures, but the log picture and story were the best! Sometimes I think the bedroom in the camper seems small, guess I will stop thinking that now.

John and Judy said...

Enjoyed reading your likes and dislikes.Looking at your photos makes us definitely want to plan a trip to that area. Diane, sure glad you got your Park Passport book back. It would be a sad day if I lost mine! Enjoy your visit to Paso Robles. It's one of our favorite areas of the Central Coast.