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TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

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Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

This thread is the continuation of the Trip Report that I started in the California forum. The TR describes our adventures through Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and San Francisco. Obviously, this thread has the TR for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon portion of our. This link below will take you to the introduction the travel day to CA:

tripadvisor.com/…42757911

The rest of our time in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is detailed in the following posts, which contain links to photos and reviews. I’ll also post links to the TR for the remainder of the trip.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
1. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Day 2 - Thursday 6/21 – Cats and Canyon

As expected, I was awake early since I was still on east coast time. But there is no rush today; this is vacation! We just had breakfast at the hotel. It was not free, like is often the case at a Doubletree, but the buffet was still quite good. I highly recommend the breakfast burrito! Cost for the full buffet was $12; not a bad deal.

We were on the road at 7:40 AM, on our way toward the parks! It was actually a pretty interesting drive for the first 30 minutes or so with the squadrons of windmills lining the hills. I was glad we were heading east as the traffic was backed up for miles on the westerly lanes. Uneventful drive until we got past Fresno, then we were heading into the Sierras, and the road became more fun.

The only significant stop we made before reaching the parks was at Cat Haven near Dunlap. We arrived about 10:40 AM. There were a half dozen Sherriff’s vehicles in the parking lot and three school buses, so we were not sure what to expect. As it turns out, the deputies were leading a field trip for a bunch of kids. When we asked about a tour, our options were to go out with the kids at 11:30 (next tour) or go get some lunch and come back in about an hour and a half for a more sedate and private tour (after the kiddies were done). We opted to go with the kids and that turned out to be fine. The kids were well behaved and their escorts kept them inline (hey, the escorts were with the sheriff’s department, so no wonder the kids were well behaved!). We just hung to the back of the group and enjoyed the tour.

There are 24 cats on site and quite a variety of species; it seemed like they had just about every type of cat, from bobcats and lynx to jaguars, snow leopards, tigers and lions. The young lady who led the tour did a great job of explaining and enforcing the rules, and in answering questions about each cat. The folks who work at Cat Haven are very hands-on and interact with the cats, so when the handlers are near an enclosure, many of the cats came over to see what was going on. That made for great viewing opportunities. The owner happened by at one point when we were at the lion enclosure, and took the time to get the lions out into the open since they were lounging in the shade. It is quite obvious that the staff and management at Cat Haven want folks to have a positive experience and to learn about these amazing animals.

The tour took about an hour. Just a stroll through the enclosures along a dirt path. The trail is a little rolling, but no significant hills to scale. The enclosures were decent size and provided the cats with places to hang-out as well as space for exercise. Well worth the stop, particularly since MsHick is such a cat nut.

I did write a review for Cat Haven, but there was no listing for this attraction in TA and my request for a new listing is still pending. If it shows up soon, I’ll append to Cat Haven review in a follow-up post, just for completeness.

After Cat Haven, it was on to the parks. Our first stop was the General Grant tree in Kings Canyon. We walked the short loop through the grove and marveled at the mega-flora. It is simply amazing to see trees this huge and this old. It just boggles the mind at the variety of wondrous sights in the National Parks. In addition to General Grant, there were several other named trees in the grove. I believe it was here that we learned that naming the trees was never really made official so some of the names were lost over time. The practice of naming trees has been discontinued. There are a lot of little critters in the grove, lots of birds, chipmunks and the ever present ground squirrels. There was also a nice variety of flowers and a few butterflies. All of this made for a very pleasant introduction to Kings Canyon.

After the Grant Grove we continued on the scenic byway (route 180) to the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon. This is quite a road! Not for the faint of heart. Great views, but the smoke from nearby forest fires really obscured and muted the scenes (note, the fires were prescribed fires). Along the upper end of the road there are magnificent vistas over the entire valley. The road drops in elevation quickly along a very winding route, eventually reaching the canyon floor and running along the Kings River which was a beautiful raging torrent as it dropped through the canyon along its boulder strewn route. After a quick stop for a photo of the park entrance sign, we made our way to the Cedar Grove Visitor Center to get an idea on how to best spend the afternoon. My original thought was to go to the vista point along the Hotel Creek trail, but the valley was so smoky that we figured the views would not be that great. Ranger Reed indicated that Misty Falls was a nice hike, but too long for today. He suggested Zumwalt Meadows and Roaring River Falls as good stops for the afternoon. The latter was just a 100 yards of paved trail to a 75-foot water fall that was gushing out of a side canyon. Certainly worth the short uphill walk. Zumwalt Meadows is a 1.5-mile loop along the river and around the meadow. Ranger Reed suggested that we join the Ranger-led hike that was starting in a few minutes. We did catch the large group with the Ranger, but their pace was rather slow, so we opted to move on rather than join.

The loop around Zumwalt Meadow is really two hikes in one. There is about a half-mile access trail that runs mainly along the river to get to the meadow loop. The trail crosses the river via a bridge, which is a popular beach area. Once at the loop, we took the left fork which sticks to the river and along the edge of the meadow and works through the pine trees. We saw a Red Breasted Merganser and her chicks cruising the river at this point. Once you get to the far side of the meadow, the trail climbs a bit and returns along the base of the granite formations that frame the valley. This portion of the trail is a bit more difficult as you climb through the boulders (no real scrambling, just a bit of a difference from the flat, open dirt trail around the meadow). Nice views of the valley wall on the opposite side of the canyon. There were also a few patches of wildflowers along the trail, with Pale Swallowtails flitting about. We also saw a few squirrels and several birds (woodpecker, Robins, finch and Dark-eyed Juncos).

On the climb back out of the canyon, we stopped at Vista Point for a few big picture photos. We saw a Red Tail Hawk floating on the breeze, looking for dinner. We took the road to Hume Lake on the return so that we could get some fuel (really the only game in the area) and for a milkshake, as suggested by Ranger Reed. Nice summer youth camp set-up at Hume Lake. Gas was $4.59/gallon. Rather than backtrack, we opted just to continue on the Hume Lake Road to get back to the General’s Highway, which allowed us to see more of the area.

We reached Wuksachi about 7:00 PM and were checked-in and in the room by 7:30, then in the bar by 8:00 PM. Walking between the main lodge and the lodging buildings we saw several mule deer along the trail and in the parking area; dinner time for them as well. We tried the two local beers from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company out of Fresno. We preferred the General Sherman IPA over the Tamarack Amber (Marzen) Lager…but then, I am a bit of a hophead. Dinner was at 9:00 in the Wuksachi dining room. The service was great but it took a while for the food to arrive. But it was worth the wait as the meal was quite tasty. I had the shrimp and corn chowder and the steak quesadilla, and both were very good. MsHick had the tenderloin which she liked, although it was a bit overdone. As it turns out, this was a good example of things to come in terms of food. It seems that the Delaware North Company that runs the Wuksachi has a clue about how to properly run a food service operation and has proven to me that it is possible to serve quality food in a National Park (something that Xanterra seems incapable of doing).

Here’s the link to some of the photos from today’s adventures:

http://tinyurl.com/CA-2012-Day-02

Finally a few notes on the Wuksachi Lodge:

• Check-in is in the main building, which also houses the gift shop, bar and lounge, dining room and conference facilities.

• Do NOT bring your luggage with you to the main desk when you check-in. The lodging is located in the three buildings up the hill from the main lodge.

• There are no elevators in the lodging buildings, so be prepared to carry your luggage up some stairs (unless you are on the first floor) or get the staff to help. There is a paved ramp from the parking lot to the lodging buildings, so you do not have to carry you bags up steps on the short hike to the buildings.

• We were in the Sequoia Building, room 334. I believe that this is the newest of the three lodging buildings. Our room was very nice and good size. We had a room with 2 double beds but there was also a table with two chairs, desk and chair and a TV in the room. The bathroom was good size and well appointed. There was a coffee maker and a hair dryer in the room, as I recall (I used neither, but they were important to MsHick). The bed was very comfortable.

• This is a newer facility, brand new by National Park’s standards. Build in 1999 to replace the Giant Grove Lodge which was dismantled to protect the trees in the grove.

• There are nice walking trails through the grounds, which were nice for an early morning walk to look for critters or for an after dinner stroll.

• We found it interesting that there were a couple other parking lots in the complex with no building around them as well as utilities running through the area, but going nowhere. I asked about this later. Turns out that there are plans for expansion, including additional lodging, shopping and dining options, but so far the demand has not been sufficient to support the additional services.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
2. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Day 3 - Friday 6/22 – Changing Plans: Cave and Trees

I was up at 5:00, but I knew that MsHick was exhausted so I did a little planning and worked a couple Sudoku puzzles by flashlight. She was finally awake about 6:30.

My draft plan for the time in Sequoia and Kings Canyon was to visit Kings Canyon on Thursday (as we did), spend Friday exploring the Giant Grove, Crescent Meadow and Moro Road, hike in Mineral King on Saturday, and then use Sunday for a final visit to Kings Canyon as we transition to Yosemite. Due in part to the fires in the area and their effect on the views, but more importantly the logistics involved with drive time to Kings Canyon and Mineral King, I think we will now focus more on Sequoia and the big trees. MsHick also mentioned that she would like to visit Crystal Cave, so we’ll add that to the mix. So, we’ll go down a path of spending our time in Sequoia and build in some down time as we are both beat after the travel time and due to the altitude adjustment. Besides, this is vacation so a little relaxation would be a good thing. We’ll do a little research on the other areas and use that as a basis for a future visit.

Looks like a beautiful day today, great day for exploring the park. We decided to head to breakfast and discuss our plans for the day there. So down to the lodge a little after 7:00. We both opted for the buffet (there are continental and full/hot buffet options). Great variety on the buffet and the foods are all fresh.

We were ready to roll at 8:35 with a general plan in mind. First stop was the Lodgepole Visitor Center to get some information on the Crystal Cave hike, then head to the Giant Grove. MsHick also wanted to ask about the High Sierra camp at Bear Paw. Sounds similar to the Sperry Chalet setup in Glacier, so something that we would be interested in trying on a future trip. I discussed Mineral King with MsHick and she agreed that this is probably too much for a day trip with all the driving, so we’ll save that for a return when we can look into staying closer to that area.

We arrived at the VC before 9:00 and looked around a bit before asking about the cave tour. As it happens there were still slots available for the 10:30 tour this morning and we still had time to get there (it is about an hour’s drive from Lodgepole to the cave trailhead), so we bought our tickets and hit the road. Very pretty drive along the General’s Highway through the grove for a few miles, then along an access road for the cave. The access road is standard two-lane road for about half the journey, then it narrows just past a bridge and the winter gate. Since we were on the first tour, we did not pass any cars coming the other direction, but when we were leaving, there was a steady stream of vehicles coming at us and many of the drivers had no clue on how to drive on a narrow, winding road (driving too fast, not sharing the road; this ain’t a road race, and you cannot straighten out the road by cutting the corners…that is a recipe for disaster!). Just be careful out there.

From the parking area for the cavern, there is a steep, half-mile trail that leads down to the cave entrance. The trail is narrow, but well maintained and it is a very pretty hike; at the bottom there is a creek and a few little waterfalls that made interesting photographic subjects for the return hike. Before you head down, the docents provide a little safety talk and also reviews the issues with White-nose Syndrome (WNS) a problem in caves in the eastern US that is killing millions of bats. Here’s a link to more information on this significant issue:

http://www.batconservation.org/white-nose

To try and prevent the spread of the mold that causes WNS, there precautions that each visitor must take (simple and painless, so do your part and help protect the bats…they are important little varmints!). Another important safety tip that the docents share is to stay in the trail and out of the weeds as the trail is lined with poison oak most of the way down to the cave.

We met a nice family while waiting for the tour to start, grandparents and grandson who were touring the parks and other places in the area. The grandpa, Greg, was an interesting character, and he and I exchanged a few good natured barbs (he started with a comical reply to one of the docents questions to which I stated that there is “someone like that in everyone crowd…it just usually seems to be me”). He was a geologist, so since MsHick and I are both engineers, we had a nice time chatting with him. And our paths would cross again later in the trip.

The hike down to the cavern is not guided; you just go at your own pace. There is only one trail, so no chance of missing the cave. Once at the cave, we met our guide, Mike. Mike walked us through four of the large rooms with in Crystal Cave. The formations are amazing. Over the years, the trail through the cave has been improved to reduce the impact on the formations and lighting has been added. Mike also did the “pitch black” routine in the final room. Turned off the lights and had everyone be silent…eerie, but cool. A very interesting little excursion and not something I had expected in Sequoia (this was not on my draft plan, so hats off to MsHick for finding this little tour). It was interesting to learn that there are nearly 300 caves in the park, but Crystal is the only one open to the public. Crystal Cave does house one of the largest cavern rooms in the park; in fact it was thought to be the largest until just recently when a larger room in another cave was discovered.

On the hike back from the cave, we stopped for some photo ops along the creek and falls, then we headed back to the Lodgepole Visitor Center for lunch at the village store. We just picked up a couple ready-made wraps but they were very good. Here’s the link to my review of Crystal Cave:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143050-d146…

After lunch, it was off to see the General Sherman tree, the largest living organism by volume on the planet. We also hiked the Congress Trail with a couple of short spur detours to see some other nearby sights. I plotted many of our hikes on EveryTrail, and later added a more detailed description. Here’s the link to our hike through along the Congress Trail:

http://tinyurl.com/ET-CongressTrail

I also included the description of this hike as a TA review:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143050-d146…

Bottom-line is that this is a great hike and you get to see many of the huge trees along with wildflowers, a few critters and some of the history of the area. Including the detours we walked about 4 miles through the grove.

Our critter list continued to grow today. There were mule deer behind out lodge this morning, so we got to watch them browsing from our window. We saw some Stellar’s Jay at the Visitor Center. And along the Congress Trail we saw marmots, ground squirrels, Abert’s Squirrel, gray squirrels and golden-mantled ground squirrels (lots of rodents!).

After the hike, we stopped again at the Visitor Center for trinkets and a few questions. First, I noted that the flags in the park were flying at half staff. Turns out that a Ranger was killed that day during a rescue attempt in Mount Rainier National Park…it is a dangerous job. Once I got home I was able to get more of the details:

…nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018496296_rain…

We also learned that the High Sierra Camp is run by DNC, so we’ll check at Wuksachi for more information (again, always looking for things to do during the next trip!).

We were back at the lodge about 4:30. We got cleaned up and then headed down to the lodge for drinks and dinner about 5:40 (we had 6:15 reservations for dinner). We had time for one beer, and then were seated a little early for dinner. MsHick went with the chicken quesadilla and I had the “catch of the day” which was advertised as a coconut-crusted halibut accompanied by tropical salsa and rice. It was a good meal, but the breading on the fish was not coconut; it was way too spicy. It was good, but not a good pairing with the mango salsa…probably needed a dirty rice or something with a Cajun flair. For dessert, we split a piece of crème brulee cheesecake which was outstanding!

During dinner, MsHick saw a bear in the woods adjacent to the lodge, but only a glimpse. After dinner, we decided to walk the paved trails on the grounds to see if we could see any other wildlife…maybe we would get lucky and catch another glimpse of the bear. We did see what I think was a white-headed woodpecker as we started down the trail. As we walked down the trail toward one of the bridges, we came upon a couple from eastern Europe and the lady was a little shaken as they had heard a huffing sound from the gully below the bridge. Sure enough, it was a bear. Turned out to be a mama bear and two cubs and they were working their way up the hill away from us. She was a cinnamon colored Black Bear. We stood there on the bridge and watched them forage their way up the hill. Mama kept an eye on us, but overall, she did not seem too concerned. They eventually passed through the culvert under the road and continued on up the hill and into the forest.

We crashed early; I was out before 8:00! I reckon the high elevation, good hike and good food…plus a couple beers…did me in. I had thought about going to the 9:00 astronomy program, but sleep won out.

Here’s a selection of photos from the day’s activities:

http://tinyurl.com/CA-2012-Day-03

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
3. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Day 4 - Saturday 6/23 – Trees, Meadows and Moro Rock

I was awake early again, but we are in no rush this morning. The plan is breakfast at 7:00, then we’ll stop at Lodgepole for snacks before heading to the Giant Grove for some hiking, with the focus on Crescent Meadow, then we’ll head up Moro Rock this afternoon.

I went out at 6:30 for a walk along the paved trails. Another beautiful morning. I saw a mule deer, several ground squirrels and several birds, including a Stellar’s Jay (such a beautiful blue). The birds were singing; it was a treat to hear their songs without the background noise of planes and trucks. I tried recording the sounds of the morning; here’s a link to one of the recordings (turn the volume up):

http://tinyurl.com/CA-2012-birds

I met MsHick at the lodge at 7:00 for breakfast. We also saw Greg (the guy we met at Crystal Cave) and said our goodbyes, as they were heading off to visit family before heading to Yosemite.

We were on the road at 8:15 and at the Crescent Meadow at 8:45 (we skipped the stop at Lodgepole). We did sort of a stream-of-consciousness route around Crescent and Log Meadows with a couple detours, including walking up to the Eagles View overlook on the High Sierra Trail. We missed the sign for the view point so we just kept hiking and enjoying the views for an additional half mile or so, before turning around. We met a Ranger on the trail, a young lady with the last name of Clark, who told us the sign for Eagles View is really easy to miss as it is blocked by the rocks on the outbound hike. Still a nice walk as we saw a variety of wildflowers and a few lizards in addition to the views.

Once back at the Meadow trail, we took the high road along the Sequoia Trail, checked out the Tharp log and the Squatter’s Cabin and continued our tour along the edge of the meadows. We were hoping for an animal sighting, specifically bear, but no luck. Just little critters in the area today. But that’s OK, it was still a lovely hike with a lot of great scenery and some history of the area thrown in. Tharp’s log was quite an ingenious use of a downed Sequoia as a cabin. The window had a shutter complete with horseshoe hinges; pretty cool. Between the meadows, forest and the detour to Eagles View, we had quite a smorgasbord in terms of scenery. Overall, a very nice hike. We were back at the car about noon.

Here’s a little more detail of this hike on EveryTrail. BTW, I used the EveryTrail app for Android on my phone to track the route we took on this and the other hikes. Seems pretty accurate, but I think the elevation was offset a few hundred feet. The more I play with EveryTrail, the more I like it, but I am still in the learning process.

http://tinyurl.com/ET-Crescent-Meadow

And the TA review for completeness:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143050-d145…

As we exited the road from the trailhead, I noticed that the “Road Closed” sign was posted. Turns out that the road is closed to private vehicles on weekends between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, so we made it in just under the wire this morning.

We stopped at the Giant Tree Museum; nothing spectacular, well, except for the Sentinel Tree standing in the front yard which was very impressive! Since we were there about midday, the parking lot was full, so we ended up in the overflow lot and had to take the 0.3 mile trail to the museum past Beetle Rock. The views from Beetle Rock were certainly worth the walk; if we had not been in the overflow lot, we probably would have missed it. Regardless of where you park, take the trail over to Beetle Rock as the views are worth the short walk.

We headed back to Wuksachi for lunch and a break. We ended up eating in the lodge dining room. Not crowded at all at 1:00. I had the shrimp and corn chowder and the steak quesadilla (yeah, it was a repeat of Thursday night dinner, but it was good then, so why not!). MsHick had the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo and gave it high marks. We spent the rest of afternoon relaxing. I caught up on my journal and reviewing photos.

A few observations:

• The Sequoias are amazing, simply colossal; truly wonders of the nature world. Just to think that some of them have been alive since the Pharaohs had been in power.

• Just as amazing as the natural wonders are the main-made marvels in the parks; the trails and roads to get to the natural wonders are engineering feats of unbelievable proportions. And they were built in the 20s and 30s with strong backs and shovels!

• The weather has been great this week. Dry, low humidity, clear skies with high temperatures in the mid 60s. Basically perfect.

• Light crowds in Sequoia. Next to no one on the trails this morning. A little crowded in the “touristy” places, like around General Sherman, but not elsewhere.

We hung out at the lodge, first on the porch then in the main hall, during the afternoon. At 4:00 we reloaded and headed to Moro Rock. We passed the Giant Forest Museum at 4:20 and the road was reopened. There was plenty of parking at the trailhead when we arrived, so our timing was pretty good. There was also a very long line of folks waiting for the shuttle bus back to the museum.

The climb up Moro Rock is really pretty easy. About 400 stairs to cover the 0.3 miles to the summit and it is a constant uphill climb. However, the trail is very tight in spots; one-way traffic in many places, so a little patience and common courtesy are in order. We did encounter a few rude hikers who were above waiting their turn, two young women with “all about me” attitudes went around us as we were waiting at one tight spot; their impatience caused a minor traffic snarl. It was also a bit crowded at the top and again there was some rudeness on display with folks pushing through to get views and photos. But those were very minor issues compared to the vistas! The views of the western divide were awesome and the late afternoon light was ideal. Looking west was not as good due to the smoke and haze, but there were still good views.

The stairs along the Moro Rock trail are in good shape and well spaced. It is a constant uphill hike, but not crazy steep (we’ll get to crazy steep in Yosemite!).

After coming down from Moro Rock we crossed the road and headed up the hill to the Roosevelt Tree. A bit of a steep climb on a dirt trail, but a short distance to the tree. However, we ran out of time for the hike to Hanging Rock (something for the next trip). There is a little more detail about the hike up Moro Rock in my TA review:

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g143050-d1…

Or the EveryTrail summary:

http://tinyurl.com/ET-Moro-Rock

We were back at Wuksachi in time to unload our gear before heading to dinner. Saw another Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel on the way to the dining hall. We each had a flatbread pizza then split a crème brulee cheesecake (if you have not noticed a trend yet, just keep reading). A very good meal. DNC is doing a great job with the food and lodging at Wuksachi.

After dinner we took a walk along the paved trails through the grounds. We saw a few quail in the underbrush as well as a mule deer browsing right next to the trail. I went back out at 9:20 to check the stars, but the moon was out and throwing just enough light to disrupt the view of the stars. Still pretty, but not the dark night needed to really see the deep into the star field. So, I went back inside and watched “the Outlaw Josey Wales.” Wow, great day of hiking, excellent dinner with good beer, and a Clint Eastwood movie…did we hit the lottery or what!

Here’s the photo highlights from today:

http://tinyurl.com/CA-2012-Day-04

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
4. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Day 5 - Sunday 6/24 – Transition day to Yosemite

Once again I was up early, as were our neighbors the mule deer out behind the lodge. I went out for a walk around the grounds at 6:00. This quickly became my morning ritual and it was a great time to get out for a stretch of the legs in the cool morning air. I had the trails to myself…well, as far as humans go. There were always are variety of critters along these trails, plus all the birds flitting about and singing. These short walks each morning were a highlight of the trip for me.

In addition to the mule deer I saw from the room, I saw three more along the trail. I think that one pair was a doe with last season’s fawn, as the youngster kept running up to mom and mom was trying to shoo her away. I also saw more quail and several other birds including a Stellar’s Jay by the lodge. And of course there was a herd of ground squirrels. Here’s a video of one of the mule deer having breakfast; again, turn up the volume to hear the birds in the background:

http://tinyurl.com/CA-2012-deer-video

We had the full buffet this morning. The French toast was great and the variety of fresh fruit was outstanding again. We really enjoyed our time at Wuksachi. Since it is a newer facility, it did have all the comforts of home. While I tend to shy away from TV and wifi while on vacation, it was nice to be able to get details on the weather each day (wifi is available in the lodge). Plus the setting was very nice and also convenient to some of the main attractions in the park. There is a very relaxed vibe to the place and it never seemed to be very crowded. The only thing that was really missing was a porch with a view and comfy chairs from which to enjoy a drink in the evening.

Here are my lodging and dining reviews for Wuksachi Lodge:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143050-d145…

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143050-d519…

We were all packed up and ready to roll just before 9:00. The smoke from the prescribed fires had gotten worse, so the distance views from the General’s Highway were very muted. I think it worked out well that we decided to skip the return to Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon – too smoky for good vistas and really too far to do with the time that we had today. We did stop briefly at the Grant Grove Visitor Center, and I was able to get a shot of the Sequoia entrance sign (the signs are my “passport” stamp for the Parks). Then it was on to the Wawona in Yosemite via Fresno.

The adventure continues in the Yosemite National Park forum….here’s the link:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k56519…

london
posts: 39
reviews: 3
5. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Thanks for this great and detailed TR. I'm headed out there tomorrow from the east bay. You've made me even more excited if that were possible.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
6. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

nelnelLondon: I hope your trip is as much fun as ours was. Post a note and let us all know how it went.

Santa Ana, CA
posts: 2,270
reviews: 11
7. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Way to go OH!

I guess you skipped Mineral King. You also missed out on Kings Canyon Lodge. Did you see those gas pumps from the 1920s?

Most of the Sequoia groves are in the back country. Let me know when you want to go and we'll take the Jeep Cherokee 4WD. I've got all the books and treasure maps.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
8. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Hi Danny: Yeah we skipped Mineral King this trip, but it is on the list for the return trip. We did see the old gas pumps at KCL; pretty cool. The gas prices there were a bit extreme! I'll definitely take you up on the 4WD excursion as part of the next adventure in the area.

Santa Ana, CA
posts: 2,270
reviews: 11
9. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

You might consider this for your trip to Mineral King. This is what Mrs. DS and I do.

You can see on the map that Mineral King is somewhat far from Sequoia National Park but is very close to the town of Three Rivers.

There is a motel called the Buckeye Tree Lodge that sits right on, or near, the edge of the river. When the snow melts in the spring the water comes pouring down the mountain through this river. You may have read that the road from Three Rivers to Seq NP is very steep and twisty. Plus you saw it from Moro Rock. 5,000 foot straight drop.

Anyway, in the river bed behind this motel are boulders the size of automobiles and some the size of a single-family home. It is a most powerful pounding sound of nature I've ever heard.

There are six rooms at the motel that sit closest to the river with a door opening to the back with patio, tables and chairs, and a grassy lawn leading to the river's edge.

Sometimes Mrs DS and I go to Three Rivers just to stay at this motel and listen to the water. It's better than the sound of crashing waves at the beach.

It needs to be a year of good snow in the Sierra. Mid-May through most of June is usually a lot of water. At some point after July 4 the snow melt is over and the river turns into a trickle.

When you were in Yosemite you might have heard comments and discussion about the water levels and the flow in the waterfalls.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 6,896
reviews: 299
10. Re: TR 6/20 – 7/2/12: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and SF

Danny: That sounds like a great place to stay. I will file your post for future reference. And yes, there was dicsussion about the lower snow fall this year such that the waterfalls in Yosemite were a mere trickle. As I mentioned in the Yosemite portion of this TR, the falls were running full when we visited in June 2006. I have since learned that the 2012 snow level was 43% of the average while the 2006 level was 129%. Thus the difderence in the waterfalls.