California, Here We Come!!!
Mar 24, 2014
| High on my bucket list has been to see the really BIG Trees! We found a wonderful place to stay that is just seven miles from Sequoia National Park. Sierra RV Ranch is truly an oasis. We are parked along a river/creek. For the most park we have had it all to ourselves. We have absolutely no phone signal...but the best WIFI ever. This has enabled me to process all my photos and catch up on articles. I have to admit that I have been playing "World of Warcraft" a lot. I am busy killing trolls and giants while watching the pastoral setting outside the big window. The weather is fabulous! The trees are green and there is real grass. Tommy is so happy to see real grass.
I was not totally prepared for the absolute majesty of the "Big Tree Forest." To say these are really big seems an understatement. Much of the Sequoia National Park is still closed for winter. The adjacent Kings Canyon can only be seen from distant viewpoints. Located in the high Sierras, there is still snow and the danger of more to come.
You can drive the "General's Highway" from the Foothills to the Giant Forest in about an hour. It is one of the most twisted roads ever. You would not want to drive a motorhome on this road. They recommend nothing larger than 22 feet. The Foothills have beautiful views of the river and mountain meadows. There are a couple of nice pull-outs (not named) that offer great views.
It is 27 miles from the park entrance to the Giant Forest. At the Giant Forest Museum is the "Sentinel" tree. The Sentinel Tree is a prime example of a very 'average' Giant Sequoia. That is, if 700 tons is average...Amazingly, this giant is about half the size of the General Sherman Tree. The Park service has laid a ruler down on the pavement to help you get a concept of size. I am in awe of the "average" Sequoia. It is thick all the way to the top, i.e. it doesn't taper. The tree is 2200 years old.
In the museum I learn that the oldest trees are Bristlecone pines at 4700 years. Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwoods are actually two different species. The Coastal Redwoods can be taller (375 feet) than the Sequoia, but have much less volume.
General Sherman--the most massive living organism. General Sherman is:
~ 2,100 years old
~ 2.7 million pounds
~ 275 feet tall
~ 100 feet wide at its trunk
These trees never die of old age. They keep growing and growing, until they fall over.
There is a lovely walk around Gen. Sherman. It was here that I actually touched these Giants. The bark is soft and spongy. It can grow to 3 feet in thickness. Within the Giant Forest there are more than 2000 trees that exceed 10 feet in diameter.
This huge slab shows the growth rings of one Giant. There is an interesting story about the establishment of the park. "In 1888 Walter Fry came to know the sequoias as a logger, having left hardship in the Midwest for a new life in the Sierra. After spending five days with a team of five men sawing a single sequoia, he counted the growth rings on the fallen giant. The answer shocked him into changing careers. In just a few days they had ended 3,266 years of growth. Two years later a petition was circulating, calling for a new national park to protect the sequoias. The third signature was Walter Fry's."
Near the Giant Forest Museum is the road to Morro Rock. This granite dome offers spectacular views. You must be able to climb several hundred steps (up 3000 feet) and walk along the summit trail. It is not for the height conscious. I enjoyed a lovely stroll in the parking lot, while Bob climbed the rock and took pictures. You can really see the totally twisted road to the Giant Forest.
We were not able to visit Crystal Cave. It will not be open until May 10th. The ranger said the cave was a "marble wonder." It is one of several hundred caves in the park. Perhaps another time...
When not visiting the Giants, we have thoroughly enjoyed our campground. Bob has been busy panning for gold. We think he may have even found a couple flakes. We put our bird feeder out and watched these amazing little cone-head birds. They will only take one seed at a time and fly off. I got some great shots of a Scrub-Jay. We have seen ground squirrels. I keep telling Tommy to look in the holes for squirrels. He sniffs and then looks up in the trees. We have been entertained by these woodpeckers. They are constantly playing and pecking. There is an old wooden pole on the river that really attracts them.
This place has become one of our favorite camping spots. Bob says it is second only to the "Lost Dutchman SP." We certainly feel the peace and wonder of all creation here.