On my recent inability to stay put and giant sequoias

Since Death Valley, we have been unable to stay in one place for more than a night–even if we mean to. After Death Valley I was desperate to see a forest and just as we left Inyokern I could see trees creeping over the mountains. We stayed that night in a really nice Sequoia NF campground north of Kernville on the Kern River.  We left there the next morning for Sequoia NP, where I was reprimanded by a ranger in writing for not storing my “food” properly. They have nice bear-proof boxes at each campsite there and I conscientiously put everything I recognized as food in it but I failed to read the fine print on the sign. Apparently, “food” includes toiletries like soaps, deodorant, lotion, etc. Anything with a scent, FYI.  After storing everything properly, we postponed dinner to drive up to the Giant Forest.

The tree before the museum in this picture is 2200 years old and it’s of only average size for this grove.  The biggest tree in the world, which is 2 miles away, is 4400 years old


I planned to leave the next morning in hopes of camping in Giant Sequoia National Monument near Kings Canyon NP but never did find that campground. 

Instead, we stayed in Sequoia NF again at a campground a dog-friendly ranger suggested.  It was a beautiful site with a creek and a trail ¼-mile away and we planned to stay two nights so we could spend today (Thursday) checking out Kings Canyon. But poor Angus was shivering by 3pm and his jacket didn’t seem to help him.  Even Lucy was shivering by morning and portions of our water had frozen, so we packed up, drove to Kings Canyon, spent a couple hours there, and then headed for lower elevations.  On the upside, cold weather seems to increase Angus’ energy level and we had a nice hike this morning.  He made the stream crossing okay but when we came to a big tree across the path he made one attempt to climb over, failed and rolled down some debris in front of it, stood up, shook himself, and set off back down the trail the way we had come.

Before heading sea level-ward we visited the General Grant sequoia grove.  The dogs had to stay in the car, but I spent about 45 minutes wandering around, and there is no way I can adequately describe it to you.  It’s like being in a fantasy land and I was in such a state of wonderment my jaw was probably agape the whole time I was there.

To give you a sense of scale, look for my car and camper to the right of these trees.

In 1875 some Californians felled a sequoia and cut a disk to send east to an exhibition, but the easterners refused to believe that the disk came from a single tree and insisted that it was a Californian hoax.

This tree has been a house, a saloon, and a stable. It fell at least 100 years ago, but sequoia wood decays very slowly and it has remained in approximately the same condition for the last century.

Before coming out here, I knew I wanted to see the big trees in California but I didn‘t know the difference between a sequoia and a redwood. Both grow very tall, though redwoods grow a little taller on average, but sequoias have massive trunks and those of redwoods are more slender. Sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierras and redwoods are found along the coast. If you haven’t seen the sequoias and you get the chance, definitely do it. You’ll feel like you’re six years old and at Disney World.


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