Today we visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The day was supposed to be another scorcher, which I found difficult to believe, since we were going to be in an immense forest. And fortunately, I was right. We enjoyed a pleasant 70-72 degrees all day long, while it was 99 degrees on the outside of the parks. We left the hotel at 7:45 and began the one hour drive through miles of orange groves and olive groves and vineyards.
Lake Kaweah filled the valley that was crowned by yellow hillsides peppered with dark green trees and mountains rising in the distance, in the early morning haze. And the many trucks parked at the boat launch gave evidence that Sunday morning was a way for the locals to get away from it all and enjoy what nature provides so majestically. And we saw a sign advertising "gourmet jerky" and I thought…huh, this has to be an oxymoron, right? And it made me laugh. We passed through Pumpkin Hollow and Lemon Cove and the landscape began to change to rocky slopes and we began to climb higher and higher.
About an hour outside of Tulare we entered Sequoia National Park. And the drive into the forest was a feast for the eyes, with mountains in the distant purple haze and rocky hillsides with huge gray boulders sitting on top of boulders, slanted at downward angles and perched precariously, ready to dive to the roadway, but staying firmly in place.
And then there were the trees…tall pine trees forming corridors through which to drive. And we climbed higher, along winding roads, hugging the mountainsides in a zigzag pattern, up and up, to the top of the mountain. The rise in elevation was about 6,000 feet. And the road was often narrow, looking down into the deep valley below. There were many turnoffs to take photos of the river valley, and I took advantage of most of them. And suddenly the trees were red and massive and appeared to be invincible, with armor for bark and girth for strength. And the placards told us that these giant redwoods were nearly indestructible, resistant to fire and infestation.
We visited the famous General Sherman tree, tucked in the woods, and protected by a fence. The sign said no pets, but we pretended not to see it, and we took Beamer along for the hike up the well-paved walkway to this treasured site. We were discovered by a park ranger, but she was kind and polite and we told her we were on our way back to the car, and she smiled and let us go on our way.
After lunch in the village in King's Canyon, we found our way to the General Grant tree, which is even more secluded from the roadway. And we walked up to see it. It is the third largest tree in the world at 40 feet in diameter at the base and 107 feet in circumference, and that square foot area is a lot larger than our first house.
We drove on through the forest and up to Panoramic Point. The road was a remote trail wide enough for only one lane. It was 2.3 miles long, weaving through the woods up to 7,000 feet elevation. And I was looking forward to the view. But when we got there, it was a parking lot, the base of a walking trail to the top of the mountain. Sigh. I thought long and hard about this. The trail was a zigzag up, about half a mile long and rising about 500 feet. I was having a great day physically, having walked the trails to the two great trees and I stood there and debated whether I could do this. Steve suggested that we start up and if it was too much for me, we would turn around and go back. Well…there was a couple just ahead of us, and they were older and he was more lame than I, and in that I found my motivation to make a go of it. And we put a leash on Beamer and began the climb. After a bit, I was not sure I could make it, but the man was moving along ahead of me and I knew I had to try. Eventually I found my stride in a pace that did not tax me and we walked slowly to the top. And I gave the man credit for my courage. And that made him smile.
The view at the top was worth the work. It would have been even better if the haze had lifted. But in my mind it was a total success and the view was perfect. After taking photos, we made the walk back to the bottom and at the end of the trail Steve gave me a high five. And I felt fabulous for not giving up and achieving something I didn’t think I could do. So I end the day patting myself on the back…please forgive me for this, but it doesn’t happen often anymore when I concour a physical feat. And I am proud of myself for not giving up.
We drove to our hotel in Fresno and arrived at 3:30 PM. And it was a good day. Tomorrow we head to Half Moon Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway for a seashore fix.