Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 6: Change of Plans

We intended to go into Yosemite Valley this morning to catch the early morning light; however there was dense  cloud cover and it started raining on our way to the park.  We were not that far to the park so we decided to turn around and go back to the hotel, catch another hour or so of sleep, then check out so we could make the drive down to Sequoia National Park. Yep, I was being spontaneous, not sure if I really like deviating from the original plan, but I did it.   

We checked out of the hotel around 6:30 AM from the hotel, but not until after a pair of wild turkeys strutted through the parking lot.  We noticed the turkeys because they were making loud gobble noises as they strutted, waking several people up.  We declined breakfast at the hotel and instead ate at Happy Burger for breakfast, they open at 6:00 AM. After breakfast we made the two hour drive down to Visalia,  which is about 30 minutes outside of Sequoia National Park.  We got there around 9:30 AM, and the desk manager tried to check us in but he had no clean rooms with a king available, but he did store our luggage for us.  I’m actually impressed desk manager made an effort to get us a room that early in the morning.   So after dropping off our luggage we drove to Sequoia NP,  so I could see the big trees, because in America even the trees are fat.

Big Sequoias in Giant Forest - SUV for scale (Cell Phone through car widow)

The drive to the park was ok, rather flat and not very curvy, however that changed once we entered the park.  To get out of the foot hills and up the Giant Forest, where the big sequoia’s are, you must drive up to an elevation of approximately 6,500 feet, going about 25 mph through several tight switchbacks at an 8% grade.  Jim was having fun making a bunch of “U-turns” up the mountain.  It is not a fast drive.  We stopped at a few pull offs and viewpoints along the road up the mountain to see the tree named “General Sherman”.   We stopped at tunnel rock, which you used to be able to drive through, and the overlook before making it up to the General Sherman parking area.  From the parking area you walk down approximately 200 feet to the base of the tree.  It is a big tree, it is apparently the largest tree in the park by volume.  Lets just say I needed a wider lens to get the whole tree in the picture, Jim got the whole thing with the fisheye lens. I did not wait in line to get my picture in front of it, but took a some pictures of other people standing in front of it.   From there we further up the road to Wuksachi Lodge to get  lunch.  On the way back down we stopped at Beetle Rock, the Giant Forest Museum, and most of the way down the mountain, at Hospital Rock which had Native American paintings on the side of it.

Bottom of General Sherman Tree (Cell Phone)

Tomorrow, we will be going back to Sequoia NP to do some of the hike in the Giant Forest area. We may also drive all the way over to Kings Canyon.   I think we will at least drive up to Kings Canyon Visitor Center so we can see the “General Grant” tree which is the second largest tree in the park.  The only potential problem tomorrow is the need for tire chains above 8,000 feet due to possible snow showers, it shouldn’t be a problem if we  stay below 8,000 feet and most of the places are around 6,000 feet.  

Because I was spontaneous, the new plan is to stay in Visalia until we need to drive up back up to San Francisco on Thursday, giving us only a half day in San Francisco.

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