Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sequoia and Kings Canyon

On Tuesday, March 11th, we again drove into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this time to the south of us and into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  (For some reason, these two national parks are right next to each other.  I don’t know why they aren’t just one park, but whatever.)

By the time we arrived into the park from the southern entrance, it was lunchtime.  This day, however, we packed a picnic lunch and found a nice spot in the park for our noontime meal.

After we ate our lunch, we made the very, VERY windy drive up the mountainside toward the Giant Forest Museum.  As we drove up the mountain, we marveled over the sheer size of the trees in the forest surrounding us.  We really started to feel very small!  Once we arrived at the museum, we saw the towering Sentinel Tree.  Little did we know that this tree was just a teaser for what we would see as we walked the Big Trees Trail!  During this trail, we saw towering ancient trees, some as old as 2000-3000 years.  When I mentioned to the boys that some of these trees were already nearly 1000 years old when Jesus walked the earth, they were astounded! 

After our walk through the trail, we went back into the museum for the Junior Ranger badges, then drove in the car through the Giant Forest.  We found the “Tunnel Log” and drove our car through the fallen giant tree.  Then Steve and the boys walked to the top of Moro Rock, which offers a great view of the surrounding mountains and forests.  (My hip was bothering me at this point, so I stayed behind rather than walk the 350 stairs to the top of the rock.)

After the Tunnel Log and Moro Rock, we drove further through the forest to find General Sherman, the largest living thing on earth.  General Sherman is estimated to be 2300-2700 years old.  It is not the tallest nor the widest tree, but it is the largest by volume.  It is said to weigh nearly 1400 tons!  It stands 275 feet tall, and its trunk circumference at the ground is 103 feet.  It is quite an impressive tree!

Next we drove to the Kings Canyon National Park (which really is just an extension of Sequoia National Park) and through more groves of giant sequoia to see the General Grant tree.  This tree has been deemed the Nation’s Christmas Tree.  Its base has been badly burned, but it has continued to thrive, lending itself as a symbol of our nation’s resilience.

Sequoia trees grow ONLY on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  There are approximately 75 different groves of the trees, and they are protected.  The sequoia trees have a chemical in their wood that enables them to resist insect infestation and disease.  Their bark is such that they can survive fire.  As a matter of fact, fire is needed for the sequoia to reproduce.  The sequoia cones don’t open to release the seeds unless dried out by fire.  It is also interesting to note that the only way they are known to die is by falling over.  While resistant to insects, disease, and fire, their roots are relatively shallow and they have no tap root.  As a result, a strong wind can cause them to fall over.  Even so, with a lifespan of several thousand years, I would say they are a successful example of survival!

After seeing the General Grant tree, we left the park and started our long trek back home.  We stopped in Fresno for a late dinner, then arrived home around 9:00 at night.  Another long, but enjoyable day.

I loved, loved, LOVED seeing the sequoia forests!  Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to see these giants.  I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed!