Oct 17, 2012

National Parks- Sequoia, A walk in the Land of Giants

Sequoia National Park in California is a place to see the ancient giant sequoia trees. As I had mentioned in the previous post Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are adjacent to each other. And one can see these magnificent trees in both parks. In Sequoia, one finds the world's largest tree and in Kings Canyon- world's second largest tree :)

Early in the morning me with family drove from Three Rivers on an uphill winding road enjoying the wild landscape around. After a peep inside the Foothills visitor center to buy tickets to Crystal Caves tour we drove uphill to stop at the road work area for about 5 minutes. Since the cave tour has specific timings we wanted to finish it up first. The single road to the cave is all downhill and winding. And then a short hike down to the cave entrance is about a mile. It was a beautiful cave and the narration and explanation by the knowledgeable guide was very good. A cascading waterfalls near the cave is refreshing. The hike back to the parking is a bit steep uphill and my family was very quiet! :) Just one small picture of the cave is injustice. I will post a detailed article on these wonderful caves some time later. 

After a bit of rest we drove to the Giant Forest and took a stroll. The massive trees made us feel like lilliputs. The exhibits on the trail gave information about the Giant Sequoia trees, their habitat, survival, destruction by early discovers, conservation later on and many more things. Then it was time for the world's largest tree ...

General Sherman ... The tree named after the general is the largest tree on the Earth. By volume it is the largest known living organism. With the height of 83.8m and the base circumference of 103ft the estimated age of this tree is 2,300-2,700 years! The volume of this tree is 52,508 cubic feet. It seems if the trunk of this tree is filled with water, it would provide enough water for bath every day for 27 years! (info on wiki). The analogy goes like this ... looking up at this tree by a 6ft tall human being is just the same as a mouse looking up at a 6ft tall human being!
Not in this trip, but on one of my earlier trips I went hiking up the Lakes trail to the Pear Lake from Wolverton. This trail, 6.5 miles one way all up hill is moderately popular and has four lakes on the way. First 2.5 miles are easy with moderate grade ... then under the hot sun and exposed hot granite boulders all around it gets difficult ... The views are spectacular and the wildflowers keep hiker's spirit up. I went on and on ... the trail never seemed to end or flatten ... air was getting a bit thinner ... it was hot and uphill and the lakes were not in the vicinity.

I kept on asking every hiker descending ... How far is Heather Lake? Well, my end destination Pear Lake at 9,200ft asl ...  the views were great ... I stopped at this point we could see the Tokopah waterfalls ... magnificent ... It looked like a long endless white ribbon in the hot granite landscape. The picture shows 1/10th(?) of the length I could see from one angle. It is not possible to see the whole waterfalls though. There are plenty of rattle snakes in the park, especially in the dry and hot areas. I sited two of them on this trail ...

The lakes were beautiful ... glacial water ... trees around ... granite boulders reflecting in the still water ... patches of ice all over ... seemed like heaven ... but, there were none around the lakes !!! Where did all the hikers go? The mosquitoes were notorious ... I couldn't stand there ... I was almost dancing to squat them off ... There was one very romantic couple  lying down over one of the boulders at Heather lake. Sure I knew it was inappropriate ... I couldn't stop myself asking them how were they comfortable with mosquitoes ... they had insect repellent :) cool ... 

Back to the present ... We went strolling around the Crescent Meadow in the hope of siting a bear ... It was 5:00PM when we reached the meadow. It was green patch of flat grassland amidst giant sequoias. Beautiful but infested with mosquitoes ... or may be it was evening time so all of them were out ... We looked around and around for the bears ... ummm no sign of them ... We went for the two miles loop hike there ... there were deer ... unafraid of human approach ...

Now, the mosquitoes were intolerable ... it was sunset time ... light of the sinking Sun on the west was not reaching the meadow past the giant trees. At once I turned back ... bear ... now we were in a place where there were no hikers around ... so we ran back on the trail ... I was looking for a giant tree to hide behind and the giant sequoia trees which were everywhere seemed far away now ... We found something else and hid behind ... bear was unaware of us or may be not interested in us ... moved from the trail towards the center of the meadow ... which gave me some time to take pictures. Insufficient light prevented me from taking clear pictures ... I could get very few good pics ... with a feeling of accomplishment we walked up to the parking ... 
Now we had to chase the sinking Sun ... to Moro Rock ... (info from Wiki) Moro Rock is a natural granite rock dome which stands high between Giant forest and Crescent meadow. The high stairway was built in 1931 by Civil Conservation Corps.  Yep ... a little climb of 400 steps to reach the top ... every 100 steps there was a great view ...  wow !! wow !! it was amazing ... From an elevation of 6,725ft this is one of the great sunsets I have ever seen ... 
After the wonderful sunset at Moro Rock we came down as fast as possible. The drive back to Three Rivers on the winding downhill road and the road work on the way back were our concerns. But, what an experience?! Giant trees dwarfing we humans to look like mice ... Nature never stops fascinating me! 

Map of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Leave a comment to share your thoughts :)

For more posts on National Parks of USA click HERE.

This post is linked to Nature Notes.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. What a wonder to behold! You are much braver than me with that photo of the waterfalls and I love the colors of the pretty wild flowers.

  2. Welcome to my blog Betty! Yeah, wildflowers always lift the spirit of hikers!

  3. Amazing trees. Nice captures.


  4. Lovely pics and pst of these pristine natural beauties!

  5. Great informative post...

    I heard about great tree in school classes


    1. Thanks Krishnaji! Yeah, these trees are magnificent!

  6. It is a dream of mine to visit our National Parks for myself, but I appreciated this photos.. Thank you for your support during my Mother's illness and passing..I appreciate it very much..Michelle

    1. I am sorry for your loss Michelle. But, I am sure she passing peacefully has given you more strength. Now, you have great memories of her!

  7. Oh my god, 2700 years old. How many generations has that magnificent tree seen. And that analogy was awesome. You now know what a mouse feels like!

    The bear sighting awesome, and lol on the question you asked the couple. All the pics are breathtaking. Great read as always Kusum.

  8. Beautiful post. It's so hard to get pictures that really show the majesty of those trees -- you did it beautifully!


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