Kings “Spectacular” Canyon National Park

Yesterday we drove from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. The walls of the canyon tower thousand’s of feet and are covered with high desert flora and fauna—or comprised of granite domes and rock formations. It is 30 miles twisting and turning from 6,600 feet elevation to 4,000 feet. Around most every turn is a spot to pull over and take a picture of rugged Sierra wilderness. At one lookout the Kings River, middle and south forks meet—can be traced out of the steep, narrow gorges.

Kings River, Middle and South fork canyons

Kings River, Middle and South forks converge below

Repose position at a lookout on the road into the canyon

Repose position at a road side lookout above Kings River

Kings river

Kings River, Cedar Grove area

We went down to Cedar Grove two different days. Best hikes were Zumwalt meadow, only 2 miles, but big on stellar views of the Kings River and cliff faces. Also, a short .5 mile hike to Roaring Falls was cool.

Zumwalt meadow

Zumwalt meadow

Above Zumwalt meadow

Above Zumwalt meadow

Roaring Falls

Roaring Falls

A fantastic hike was nearly 9 miles round trip through pines, following the Kings River, up to Mist Falls. Stunning views, left and right, and a gradual climb of only a 1,000 feet, so an easy, long day by foot. We started at 64 degrees and finished at 80 degrees—starting to cook. Good we were in shade maybe 70% of the way. At the Mist Falls, waters streamed down the smooth rock. Water careened through cracks and crevices and in places, crashed the river’s pool below. In front of the falls on a big boulder was a great place to rest and enjoy the spirit of Mist Falls awhile. Of the black bear reports on the trail, we were not lucky to see one.

Along trail to Mist Falls

Along trail to Mist Falls

Hike to Mist Falls

Hike to Mist Falls

Kings River south followed up to Mist Falls

We followed the trail along the river to Mist Falls

Mist Falls

Mist Falls

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We have been here 8 days.  It’s beautiful!  At our campsite temperatures are 75-80 degrees in day and cools quickly at sunset but the lowest night time temperature was 48 degrees. Perfect for camping. Two more days here, then, off to Paso Robles for Jolie and Joe’s daughter’s wedding!

Sequoia: Walking with the Giants!

Of all the places—camp, hike, walk, bike, kayak, etc.,—in the natural world I’ve experienced; if I were to pick one; one stands bigger than the rest.  The Big Tree does it for me!  In the Coastal Redwoods or the Sierra Sequoia’s (also redwoods), pick any Big Tree.  Mind-Boggling!  On average, Coastal red’s are taller (380 feet) than Sierra (310).  Sierra are wider (40 feet diameter) than Coastal (22).  Coastal age (2,000 years) and Sierra (3,000)—both still growing.  Take a quick walk with just me, next to a Big Sequoia Tree (Grant Grove area).

metreeIMG_6775 bigIMG_6776 metreeIMG_6767 4 treesIMG_6721 mefallenIMG_6779 4 redwoodsIMG_6958You will agree these are pretty big.  Next, the third largest tree in the world by volume (10 minutes from our Airstream camp) I have walked and talked a  handful of times with—the General Grant tree.

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Walk with Giants

I walked with the Sequoia
speak to me, tell me your secrets
immortal you stand
as tall as the sky is wide

foot thick bark, indestructible Big Tree
no wind, lighting, fire and rain
nor insect could
—bring you down

of all my walks, in all my years
I step reverently
walking with giants
and their silence touches me

my head back and eyes vertical
—I salute General Grant
40 feet wide and 268 feet tall
1,700 years, still growing
a humbling moment—being small

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This deer is curious why I am talking with a Big Tree.

An RV’er sight—You’ll not believe! On the drive to Kings Canyon!

Unheard of! Never seen before (I hope)! An RV’er experience you’ll not believe!

Driving 200 miles from Yosemite to Kings Canyon was a painstaking 9 hours—just 22 mph approximately. I could pedal that fast. Here’s how it went. We hooked up the Airstream and left the magnificent Tuolumne Meadows around 9 AM. While waiting at the RV Disposal site, idiots in front of us dumped without a sewer hose. Unbelievable! We could see the waste matter gushing out, like Yosemite Falls in full force, from the side of their rental RV spilling all over the concrete. Stuff gushed like the Merced River toward a small disposal hole. Ugly! You got the picture, particularly if you’re are RV’er. Disgusting!. A big sign in this rental RV said “Germany.” You would think these tourist’s are smarter! So we backed up the trailer and booked out of there. We imagined bacteria running loose, contaminating the area. Barf!!!!!!

Still needing to dump, we drove out of Yosemite on the scenic Tioga Road. Down into Yosemite Valley, views of Half Dome and El Capitan, and over to Oakhurst. About 80 miles of electrifying granite, pines, and curves. Slow going 30-35 mph! Gail’s “All Stays” campground iPad app indicated an Oakhurst Elks lodge had an RV dump. So we dropped in. Wrong! This was a little 20 to 30 minute delay while we needed to back up and turn around, due to entering on a road with no outlet.

Next, we headed toward Fresno. The freeway was a parking lot 3-4 miles moving about as fast as I could walk backwards on a broken leg (knock on wood). Bad accident! A car rear ended a fire truck. The car was compressed, like crushing a soda can with your foot, wedged under the fire truck rear. Most likely no survivors (prayers for the family). At least a dozen fire trucks parked all over the freeway with crews standing around, I suppose, trying to figure out what to do next. A gut wrenching scene.

We drove to Whole Foods in Fresno and parked the rig in a dozen compact spaces, ate a late lunch and shopped for staples, i.e., coffee, eggs, produce, grass-fed beef, popcorn and other stuff. At Whole Foods, we were concerned we would not get a camp site at Kings Canyon National Park, since they are first come, first serve. Even though it’s Monday and off-season, it does not seem to be off-season for many European’s—and at least 1 stupid couple—they love our National Parks. The park office said come on over, we’ll have sites. Feeling relief!

Still needing to dump, back on the road it is 102 Fresno degrees. We stopped at an RV park to dispose our waste properly with the acceptable “conduit.” Now heading to Kings Canyon the temperature dropped 27 degrees on the 10-15 mile drive up hill, gaining roughly 5,000 feet in elevation.

We arrived at 6PM at the Azalea campground. We picked a superb site after driving all the loops. The Airstream looks “sweet” shiny under a baby giant Sequoia. Lot’s open space so our solar panels can recharge our batteries—our kind of site, most campers do not want—they prefer shade. No hook ups! No AT&T service. Grant Village says there is a Verizon tower with good cell service (I did see a tower on the Big Baldy hike).

Only 8 PM I could see the stars and milky way. Very dark. A “premo” site at $9 a night (half off) on my National Park Senior Pass. I hope my brother is reading this blog post so he will load up his grand kids and meet us out here. The price is right for a family vacation those kids will never forget. I promise to buy Big Brother a sewer hose for his rental RV

Oh, we are a 10 minute walk from a Sequoia Grove and the 3rd largest tree in the world—General Grant.

Big spacious site for the Airstream.

Big spacious site for the Airstream.

Baby Sequoia

Baby Sequoia by the Airstream.

On hike on Sunset trail from camp.

Hike on Sunset trail from camp.

Lunch break on Sunset trail near camp

Lunch break on Sunset trail.

 

General Grant:  268 feet tall, 44 feet in diameter, 1,700 years old.

General Grant: 268 feet tall, 44 feet diameter, 1,700 years old.

And if you are not used to it yet, Gail is into pics of mini-wildflowers and seed pods.  She has a eye for finding these small (smaller than a pinky thumb nail) but spectacular gems.

flowerIMG_7364 flowerIMG_7322 flowerIMG_7158

Amazing seed pod!

Amazing seed pod!

We have been in Kings Canyon 6 days now and plan to stay 4 more!

Tuolumne “the Place of Gathering Waters” in Yosemite

From Tuolumne Meadows campground we walked up the river—more mellow, less flow in late summer, but still spectacular—more rocks exposed to hop around on. We walked 2 miles up to two bridges near the Lodge and took lots of panoramic pictures.  The meadows are yellow, all so beautiful—as beautiful in spring when the water is flowing with more force and grace and wildflowers in full bloom.  This place is special any time!

We did a ranger led hike and learned about the Native Americans who ventured here into Tuolumne—“the place where waters meet.” The Native Americans gathered here to meet and celebrate together with other tribes for a short while, because spring, all too soon, turns into summer and fall—all in about three months time. Tuolumne Meadows is only open July through September.

Today people all over the world are still gathering here, like the Natives, still enjoying this unique high mountain country in Yosemite National Park. People from many countries come, all speak the same language—of beauty and awe!

IMG_6510 gailIMG_6520 deerDSC_0446 gailIMG_6559 airstreamIMG_1855 g&rIMG_6542At sunset we timed it perfectly—a short hike up near the top of Pot Hole Dome for the razzmatazz of color spread across the clouded horizon.

sunsetIMG_6589 sunset pot holeIMG_1918 pot holeIMG_6578 sunsetIMG_6581

We left Tuolumne 5 days ago (no WiFi to post blogs) and now are in Kings Canyon—for a 9 to 10 day stay—good weather, good camping and good hikes!