Sunday, May 23, 2010

Central California - Sequoia

We left Yosemite and headed for Sequoia National Park. It was about 170 miles, almost every inch of which seemed to be curves. I was really getting sick and tired of going left, right, left, over and over again. We arrived at the Waksuchi Lodge. This is the kind of accommodation you would expect in a National Park, but at the price you would expect to pay in NYC. They had the only place in the park. They knew it and exploited it for all it was worth.

When you think Sequoia, you think giant trees. I had never seen them before and they did not disappoint. While the individual monsters were impressive, I preferred looking out into the forest and seeing an entire grove.

This is Julie posing in front of the General Sherman tree, the most massive on the planet. It isn't the tallest, or the biggest around, but someone figured out that it was the biggest overall. 2100 years old and 2.7 million pounds heavy. It grew to 275 feet tall, but the top is now dead. It still grows like a weed though, getting wider and wider.

The bummer in Sequoia was the snow. We left Park City to get away from it, but apparently California had a big snow year and Sequoia was at 130% of their normal snow pack. This meant that a lot of the interesting hikes were only accessible by snowshoe or corss country ski.

With few hikes to do, we went in search of wildlife. This little fellow was the first marmot Julie and I had seen. The picture quality stinks because the sun was almost down. We only saw one marmot.

Bears were more prevalent. I was driving when Julie spotted this Black Bear about to run across the road. Being a photographer, I let him cross, them swerved off the road, parked, and ran out with my camera. He was kind enough to stop down the hill and spend some time ripping through dead logs and licking up all the insects.

We learned that black bears come in all sizes and colors. Our first was very black and smaller. We ran across this female, bigger and brown. That evening we saw an even bigger one, and he was cinnamon colored.

We know the one above was a female, because we saw her cub up in the tree. Can you find it in the picture below?

Excellent! Now did you actually see both of them? There are two in the tree.

Eventually the little fur balls came down to visit mom.

And then fight and play with almost everything, including this helpless little tree.

On our way out of Sequoia National Park, we saw lots of 10 foot tall flowers blooming out of some form of succulent. This was taken through the windshield of a moving vehicle, so it probably doesn't help with identification. Some hills had dozens of these growing.

And our final stop on the Sequoia leg of our trip was visiting lovely Visalia. This farming town was the home to our friends Bill and Loris Benson. They owned an orange grove, so we figured it would be fun to stop by and visit their oranges. It is always interesting to see where people are from.

While we are very interested in going back to Yosemite, Sequoia seems to be more of a one-and-done.
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