Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks

After many weeks spent in the dessert, we were all very happy to get to forested, cooler, green land!  Sequoia and Kings Canyon are jointly administered parks as they abut each other.

These trees are magical and, frankly, it was love at first sight.  Sequoias are often referred to as “gentle giants” and that name fits them perfectly.  They are a marvel.

Sequoias are the largest tree in the world, by volume. Redwoods grow taller but not as thick as Sequoias. General Sherman is the biggest known tree in the world! It’s almost impossible to even take a picture of these trees as one can’t even get the tree in one frame without being far, far away!

Top of Moro Rock

Interestingly, these trees depend on fire to help seeds get started and to grow.  Their bark is incredibly durable and the pine cones (only the size of a chicken egg!) need fire in order for the seeds to be released from the cones.  By far, the most common cause of the loss of a Sequoia is because it just tumbles down.  Their roots are strangely shallow!

We went on a hike through a Sequoia grove and found ourselves completely by ourselves on the trail.  About halfway through our hike Grace says, “Either a tree is about to fall on us or I hear a bear.”  We sort of laughed it off but then Harris spotted a cub peeking up from a tree stump.  A mama bear and two cubs were about 100 feet away from us.  We were able to watch the bears, from a safe distance, for quite a while.  The cubs were darling as they were wrestling each other and even climbed several trees!

Our hike took us to a beautiful meadow.  We also visited Tharps cabin.  Tharp was a rancher who originally owned land in the park and made a summer home out of a fallen Sequoia tree!  He had a table, fireplace and a bed in the tree!

We even drove through a tree (it was a tree that was already felled).

We took the scenic drive to Kings Canyon.  This canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon in places!  

We also drove to an area where these majestic trees were nothing but stumps.  This harkens back to a time when this area was logged.  It could take up to 14 days for the loggers to take down a single tree. While there we read about a logger who, after taking 3 days to help a team of 4 men take down a single Sequoia, he realized that he had just helped kill something that had been growing for over 1,500 years (these trees often live for 3,000+ years).  From then on he became an advocate of preservation and conservation of the trees and later became superintendent of the Park!

Our campground was really lovely, set amid trees.  Harris found a swimming hole not far from our campsite! 

While in King's Canyon we found Muir Rock (where Muir made speeches about conservation of the Sequoias) and the children jumped right off of it into the river below!

Next Stop… Yosemite National Park

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