Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 6 - Pt 2, Seeing the Sequoia Park

So with the rental car loaded and things squared away with the bike we headed over to the park via 180. This would bring us in on the north side of the park. Entry was not a problem since we had year long passes. We decided we'd start at one end of the neighbouring Kings Canyon Park and work our way across through the Sequoia Park. You need to look on a map to understand this but basically you have 2 national parks plus a national monument all linked to each other and surrounded by the Sequoia National Forest to boot.

The first stop was the General Grant Grove to see some big Sequoias. Those trees are so large. The grove has many large trees named after states. Some of the names have been lost over time due to poor record keeping in the 1800's. The General Grant was the largest tree in the grove and it was amazing to see some of the limbs. If one of them were to fall on you well.... they'd eventually dig your body out.

Next stop was the Panoramic Point. This site requires a 300 yard uphill walk to reach the look out point. It was well worth the hike up. I was able to see well across the Sierra Nevadas. It was so beautiful and peaceful up there. There was a fire lookout tower just 2.5 miles up the way but I didn't feel like hiking all the way there since we had so much more to see.

Once back down the hill it was time for the next 2 sites, Redwood Mountain Outlook and Kings Canyon Overlook. Both of these were merely pull outs along the road. At the Kings Canyon Overlook it occured to both of us, if they would just trim some trees we could see things better. Just think about that for a second, it's really funny.

We continued on to see the General Sherman, this is the biggest Sequoia tree bar none. To see the tree you have to hike downhill about 1/2 a mile. And then hike back uphill when done. We got down about 3/4 of the way where we felt like we had a great view, snapped some photos and then started the walk back up. By now the sun was starting to set and we were running out of day light.

Our travels continued south on the General Highway through the Giant Forrest and we found a great look out for a sunset photo. I'm hoping it looks as good on the computer as it did in my camera's view finder. As we continued down we got into the super twisty section where vehicles over 22 feet long were recommended to avoid. And for good reason. The sun sat and we were still on the mountain pass. I took it slow and steady and we finally reached the bottom of the park on the south side. Along the way we noted several places we want to check out tomorrow.

I have a new appreciation for seeing these parks in a car versus the bike. It may seem like heresy but it really makes sense, you don't have to worry about taking your gear on and off and there's the extra protection of cage against wild animals and crazy tourists. It definitely helped today as we traveled the last 10 miles of the mountain pass in the dark. Just try it some time, just make sure you get a good deal on the rental car.

Tomorrow we've got a few more parts of the park to see and then it's back to the BMW shop for the bike. We will probably go see part of the Yosemite park on our way  out of California. Then it's on to Zion and Bryce parks. Hopefully the second half of the trip will be as fun without the BMW shop excitement.

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