Day 11...Thurs. 9/14/12
It was nice to see Grant Grove Village in daylight before leaving...please, try to secure and check-in to your cabin before sunset...it's a black hole there at night.
Began driving the Generals Highway...crossed the border into Sequoia NP....first stop would be the general Sherman Tree...the world's largest tree....on a side note, find it fascinating that these big trees here ...way out west ..were named after civil war generals who fought 3000 miles away...but guess that speaks to the age of these parks....they are indeed some of our 'elder statesmen' in the national park system...and it was a thrill to finally visit them after looking upon the maps since the age of 10 and seeing "Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park."
General Sherman Tree required a bit of a hike...but it's a must-see...try to get a picture standing in front of it for perspective...also walked a bit of the Congress Trail...much less crowded....pretty much have it to yourself.
Giant Forest was next...turned off the Generals Highway at the Museum and made a beeline for Moro Rock, 2 miles away.....climbing to the top of this granite dome was sweet...tightly carved, winding staircases in the rock...you never knew where it would lead...but once at the 6725 ft summit (300 ft elevation gain)...the view was tremendous...a total 360...the great Western Divide was there to the east...and below to the west was the Generals Highway...a big thumbs up to Moro Rock...comparable to Sentinel Dome in Yosemite, but this one was more fun to climb...beware of approaching thunderstorms, tho.
Back on the road to Crescent Meadow...which dead-ends 3 miles from Generals Hwy...parked the rental car....loaded all my food into the provided bear locker...and began the hike to Crescent Meadow...it was about a 1-mile hike to Tharp's Log...a cabin in a fallen sequoia...Crescent Meadow itself was pretty, surrounded by towering sequoias...but would say that Zumwalt Meadow in Kings Canyon was a little better, framed by a 2000-ft canyon wall...didn't see any bears here, did see a marmot...on the return drive a 'must see' stop is Tunnel Log....have someone get out of the car and take your picture driving through it....this 'drive thru' tree is the only one in the parks...it is a fallen sequoia, carved with a tight 7-ft ceiling for cars...the drive thru tree visited in northern Caifornia...Leggett ...was a live, upright redwood. Both are wonderful. Another stop in this area one should not miss is a grove of sequoias known as "The Parker Group"....6-7 very large trees packed tightly together...get out of the car and take a great picture of these trees...they stand shoulder to shoulder.
Getting back to the Generals Highway...parked at the Giant Forest Museum and walked the Big trees Trail...this was very good. As far as asthetics go, this was better than Crescent Meadow....you have huge sequois and a small meadow in the middle that the trail circles. Made a brief stop at the museum...and then it was time to hit the road.
Had asked the park rangers about the construction on Generals Highway (198) south to Three Rivers. They said traffic would be allowed thru at the top of the hour, on the hour...so planned this day out for a 3pm departure from the Giant Forest. The plan went as advertised...a small delay...and slow mountain driving...but it was very scenic, especially looking up and seeing a big rock on the cliff that most likely was Moro
Turned off 198 at Exeter and took 65 south to Bakersfield for the overnight, arriving around 7pm sunset. Even out of the parks, it was great scenery all the way...just seeing the citrus trees and fields of produce that would soon be in my grocery store...felt really blessed to live in such a land that has so much....even saw something very surprising on hwy 65 approaching 99...on the horizon...oil wells! whoodathunkit they would ever be seen in california.
So Day 11...one of the grandaddies of the National Park System...Sequoia National Park...the world's largest tree...Moro Rock...and safe passage to Bakersfield on Hwy 198...another great day. Next up for Day 11...a dip into the LA area and over to Santa Barbara on the Santa Barbara forum.