Daily Log
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back

August 12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon

Starting trip mileage 3287 miles

Rising at 5AM and leaving at 5:30 we drove toward Sequoia National Park. Route 198 was a beautiful highway, winding upward through the grassy hills. We drove by Lake Kaweah at sunrise, getting beautiful silhouettes of the mountains over the lake. Passing through Three Rivers we entered the Sequoia National Park and started upward on an impressive array of twists and switchbacks up the mountain. The grades now seemed gentle compared to yesterday's journey, even though I was in second gear much of the time. The switchbacks and turnouts gave nice views of the mountains and forest in the early light.

At one particularly beautiful overlook the starter gremlin showed up again. I had been careful to park with a slope, so I put it in reverse, let it roll backward and it cranked right up.

As we climbed higher we began to see Sequoia trees, small ones at first and then growing in size. Rounding a curve on a steep slope we encountered four huge sequoias - called the Four Gaurdsmen. The road lanes split to go between them. I screeched to a halt to take a picutre and killed the engine. I had to roll it backward to start - in the traffic lane. That was a foolish move for me - I would have been in a bind if a car had come up behind me. I resolved not to take that kind of risk again for a picture.

As we climbed further into the Giant Forest the trees got larger and larger - its hard to believe how large they are, and very hard to photograph. We drove past the lodge and parked next to Round Meadow. It was before 7AM and the sun had not penetrated strongly and we stood in the soft morning light under the majestic towering sequoias. The one about 20 ft from the van must have been about 8-10 feet in diameter - towering with twin trunks so high that the sunlight caught its top.

We had our breakfast in this quiet place, with just a few early morning walkers up and about. Then Jeff and Mark played happily about among the Big Trees while Brenda and I had our second cup of coffee.

Brenda did some shopping whle I hung around the Round Meadow. I had taken a cup of coffee out to the meadow and was just watching the trees with the rays of sunlight streaming through when a ranger walked by with his camera, doing a smoke survey. I told him I had used 24mm for some shots of the rays and trees, and he recommneded the use of longer focal lengths for most shots. After that conversation and a brief visit to the nice shops I let Brenda shop and the boys run around while I tried to figure out ways to photograph the trees.

Mark and Jeff found the tree section near Round Meadow where the tree rings were dated, indicating that the tree started growing about 480 BC!! That section was 7-8 ft in diameter and was by no means the largest.

After covering the area around Giant Forest Village pretty thoroughly, we drove out to Crescent Meadow, the one which was spoken of so highly by John Muir as the "jewel of the Sierras". There were spectacular Big Trees along the road and around the meadow. We walked around the Crescent Meadow loop, about 1.8 miles. This loop included a stop by Tharps Log, the little house built into one of the fallen giants. We had our lunch there in view of the beautiful Log Meadow.

The meadows were lush with knee high grass and wild flowers such as Indian paintbrush, a yellow daisy variety, and others. The idyllic small meadows are surrounded by the stately trees. Besides the Big Trees there wwere sequoias of all sizes, big lodgepole and sugar pines up to four feet diameter and well over 100 ft high. There were ferns on the forest floor and some of the tree thrunks were a brilliant light green with heavy growths of a long filament moss.

We left the memorable experience of the Big Trees about 2 PM and drove the well engineered but winding and slow road to Kings Canyon Park. The Kings Canyon drive is about 40 miles long, and an 80 mile drive on those kind of roads was unthinkable at the time we reached there, so we had to make painful decisions about what to see.

We drove about 2 1/2 miles up a narrow winding road and walked another few hundred yards to a scenic overlook on the ridge. We could see many peaks, some above 13000 ft on the Sierra ridge. They were so high that they still had snow patches in August. This was really a memorable sight - the kind of storybook picture of the Sierras I had come to see.

We drove to the General Grant Grove to see the Big Trees there and looked at the General Grant tree. Actually, I was not so much impressed with the "famous" named trees - it appealed to me much more to walk through the woods and around the meadows and see the variety of trees. Even if they are not the biggest they are more impressive out in the great woods without railings and name plates.

The highway out of Kings Canyon (Cal 180) was very fast and took us steadily dowward in long scenic loops - out of the Big Trees, through the deep evergreen forest, through the dotted trees in grassy hills to the grassland and then opening out on a flat plain of deep green groves. Stopping along the straight flat road to Fresno, we bought some good fruit, cheaply, among the groves where it grew. We saw plum trees, orange and lemon trees, grape vineyards, etc. etc.

We stopped at a familiar KMart in Fresno (like Mabletons even down to the surfacing on the checkout counters) and got film and some needed household items (plus a not-so-needed car compass I wanted). Even in the hot weather the engine cranked right up - not a problem since the scary hillside episode this morning.

Zipping on out to Oakhurst in the rolling grassy hills we got the last spot in a mobile home park near the river. Our camping routine is pretty efficient now and we settled in for the night.

195 miles on the day.

Map for Day 12
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back