West 2018 Day 10 – Kings Canyon

Tuesday 5/22/18

We planned to stay a couple nights in King’s Canyon with one day of hiking, so after making coffee and breakfast we went to register the site and hit up the visitor center and figure out what trails to hike.  Our first hike was to be a quick loop of Big Stump Trail.  We did the loop, and found some stumps, but we never found the one that looked like the pictures or that was labeled big stump (the pictures showed a staircase up it, so it should have been obvious).

Second stop was back near camp and the village – the General Grant Tree loop (it’s maybe a mile loop from the parking lot, and I think fully paved).  This is King’s Canyon’s competition to the General Sherman Tree and is second largest in volume, but largest by diameter if I recall.  There’s also a fallen tree around that’s hollowed out as a tunnel and makes up a portion of the path.

Third was driving down into Kings Canyon via the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway.  We were intending to do a hike at the end (some loop of the Copper Creek Trail) but it started lightly raining less than ¼ mile into the hike and we turned back.  It continued to rain for much of the afternoon, so not being on a 6 mile hike was probably good.  We drove back up the byway poking out at a few viewpoints.  There’s a good number of trails and hike-in campgrounds at the end of the drive, so it could definitely be an interesting one to revisit in the future with a bit more planning for overnights. Continue reading

West 2018 Day 9 – Sequoia

sequoiamap2

Monday 5/21/18

It took a while to drive up into Sequoia National Park.  We stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center to get a map.  I don’t exactly remember what information they gave us – maybe that all the campsites were all full.

From there we drove out to Moro Rock stopping at a few spots along the way.  Moro Rock is a pretty high outcropping with steps carved into it, so we hiked up.  The morning fog / clouds had started to move and we got a few glimpses through, but it the view was limited.

We left the car and picked a variety of trails to hike up toward Tharps Log, to McKinley Tree Trail Junction, back along Alta Trail and then up Soldiers Trail back to Moro Rock.  This was a substantial hike on what were, in some case, very poorly marked trails using some cell phone pictures of map placards to guide us.  It took us through the heart of Sequoia on foot – the first part on some lesser traveled trails and the later part closer to the road and the more frequented sites.  It did rain a little bit about 2/3 of the way into the hike, but nothing too substantial.

In addition to lots and lots of very, very large trees we managed to see a couple small black bears on the hike.  This was in the last 1/3 of the hike and we had just passed a crew of park rangers trimming back vegetation, so they were not very timid or remote.  At the end of our loop we hiked up Moro Rock again to see if the view had improved.  It was a little clearer, but still hazy and cloudy around some of the peaks.

After the hike, we took the car up through Tunnel Log just to finish the drive and then turned back to swing by the Park Store / gift shop (at least I think that was the intent).  This was derailed by the sighting of a few more black bears and the ensuing milling about watching and taking pictures.

We missed the gift shop entirely and just barely made it to our final stop at General Sherman Tree (By volume, it is the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth).  Sequoia National Park is pretty large, but we kind of decided that we had seen enough of the trees.  We had seen the major sites, even if there were more trails to hike, so we continued north to King’s Canyon National Park.  We got in late, but found a camp-site by headlights in the Azalea campground.