Thursday, June 29, 2023

Tooling Around Sequoia National Park

I got up, had my coffee and breakfast, and got on the road around 8:30 a.m. Rather than move onto another place, I booked two nights at the campground and would just ride around the park to see the sights.

I hopped on the Generals Highway toward Sequoia National Park. The road was in great condition, despite the previous harsh winter, and wound its way along cliffs, through the conifer forests, and grassy meadows. There was no traffic to worry about either!

I spied a waterfall going down what looked like a giant granite waterslide, so I made a quick U-turn to look at it.  Cabin Creek falls were flowing heavily, and the falls’ water flowed under a large stone bridge down the granite waterslide.

I stopped at the parking lot for the General Sherman tree, the largest tree in the world by volume. The parking area is at an elevation 212 feet above the tree’s base. The tree happens to be 275 tall, so you park almost at the tree’s top. The trail then winds its way down to the tree’s base with signs along the way pointing out where you are on the tree’s trunk. Getting to the tree’s base, you realize just how massive it is! The tree is 36 feet in diameter, or more than 113 feet around. The Coast Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) in Northern California are huge, but they’re not as chunky as this particular Giant Sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum). The hike back up to the parking area was steep and took some time. The National Park Service was kind enough to place benches along the way for visitors to take a breath.

I continued down the Generals Highway and pulled off just south of the Giant Forest and visited the Tunnel Log. The Tunnel Log is a famous fallen sequoia that had a tunnel carved through it. Surprisingly, unlike the drive-through Redwood trees up north, there was no line of cars waiting to go through the log. I had plenty of time to park the bike and snap some pictures of it “inside” the tree.

Near Tunnel Log was another fallen giant, the Buttress Tree. The Buttress Tree fell in the 1950s and its root complex was exposed next to the road. The 20-foot-tall root complex of the tree dwarfed my bike.

I parked at the parking lot for Moro Rock and changed out of my riding gear for the hike to the top. Moro Rock is an exposed granite dome that protrudes 245 feet above the surrounding land. The trail to the top is 800 feet long and has 350 steps. Once I reached the top, there was a vast panorama of the surrounding area – the snowcapped high Sierras to the east, and the Kaweah River Valley and far-off Central Valley to the west. The path is tight and narrow, with steep drops along both sides, but the views were worth it.

Back on the Generals Highway, I got stuck behind a Toyota pickup towing a camp trailer, and he was stuck behind a slow-moving van from Missouri. The van driver didn’t get the hint for several miles, doing 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. When he finally wised up, the Toyota took off, and so did I. Thumbs down to you, sir!

I turned off the Generals Highway and got on 10 Mile Road (Forest Route 30) to head toward Hume Lake. The joys of another empty road. The twisty road drops down into a valley toward the lake, dropping nearly 1100 feet. The area around the lake was packed with people for the upcoming holiday weekend and summer camp attendees. Since this was the closest place to get gas, I made sure to top off and pick up some supplies for the night.

Climbing out of the Hume Lake area, I was greeted by amazing views of Kings Canyon to the east. I had to stop a few times to take it in. People hate on California, but it definitely is a beautiful place! Unfortunately, I could not ride into the canyon as the road in was badly damaged over the previous winter and was not scheduled to reopen until 2024.

I arrived back at the Kings Canyon visitor center around 2 p.m. I grabbed lunch, a grilled chicken sandwich that took way too long to get and cooled off.

I got back to my camp around 3:30 and just relaxed. I washed off the sweat with a camp bath of cold water and a washcloth. I didn’t quite feel like a million bucks, but maybe a half million.

I had heard my chain slapping while riding, so I did a little maintenance on the bike and reduced its slack a bit. I took it on a quick loop around the campground and found it to be much better.

I spent the night watching dancing flames in my fire pit and gazing up at the stars.

Total Miles: 85