Full photo album -> HERE
It was 7 AM when people started to get up. Jaden and I had been up at 630 AM and were starting to get ready for the day. It was a big day as we were going to the Sequoia National Park to see the General Sherman tree. Any other stops before and after would be a bonus. Our friends had never seen the largest tree (by volume) before, so this was going to be fun!
Around 9 AM we had our lunches packed and in the ice chest. The kids were loaded up and we were soon on our way. We drove to the nearby gas station to fuel up just a few minutes down the road. Unfortunately they were having issues and no gas was available. Thus we ended up stopping again about 15 minutes later and fueled up the vehicles. Now the next stop would be in the National Park.
We drove up Highway 180 and first entering Sequoia National Forest’s Giant Sequoia National Monument. It wasn’t long after that we were stopping at a Kiosk for Kings Canyon National Park. We paid our entrance fees and proceeded towards Lodgepole, which was down the General’s Highway to Sequoia National Park. We went in and out of agency jurisdiction a few times.
Looking at the clock, it was practically lunch time when were about to Lodgepole. There is a day use area just outside and we took advantage of it. There were no fees and nobody else was there when we pulled in. We were able to pick the “best spot” and get things set up. You could hear the roar of the river that resided down below or picnic table. We told the kids to stay up high and a visit to the river would take place after lunch. Now it was time to eat!
Lunch was delicious. Kids had PB&J sandwiches, we had turkey and cheese, and there was a lot of vegetables to dip in the humus along with chips. The kids didn’t eat too much as it was time to play and explore. We kept an eye on them and enjoyed chatting, sharing stories, and just taking it easy.
Soon we realized we needed to go soon and that the kids should come back to finish their meal. We called them over and as they arrived, something was wrong. Wrong in the fact that they were filthy. Apparently they had discovered where runoff occurred and ash made its way down. They called it “magic dust” and were throwing it up in the air. We wiped them down as best we could so they could finish lunch. Next time a spare change of clothes will be in order.
The river was calling and we took the kids down there. The water was swift, so both parents made sure we scoped the area out and would only let them go so far. After a few shots on the rocks, the kids wanted to dip their feet in. No problem. Those shoes where either off so quickly or became “water shoes” as the kids enjoyed dipping their feet in the calmer waters near the edge of the banks.
Now it was time to make our way up to the General Sherman tree parking area. I remember as a kid nobody had to walk 0.4 miles to the tree. This was going to be a new experience for me, but normal for everyone else as they didn’t know any different. The parking area was huge and rightfully so. No more backing up traffic this way.
We all took a photo near the Sherman Tree Trail starting point and began to descend down the trail. A sign stated it would be 700 vertical feet drop over 0.4 miles of hiking. Of course the downhill everyone was chatting and enjoying the walk. Others coming the opposite direction varied.
There was a nice overlook of the grove and of the General Sherman tree. A interpretive sign was there discussion the tree. We stopped here for some water as it was rather warm in the sun. One of the kids scraped there kneed coming down so we found a band-aid to help. It was not serious, but nevertheless not comfortable. In a couple moments it passed and the adventure continued. The amount of people along the trail was increasing as you approached the bottom and rightfully so. Many were taking photos by various trees.
The kids found walking sticks for the trek around the grove. We did a couple shots of the group and then the kids separately. As we proceeded down the trail and moving around the crowds, Diana recalled a down sequoia that the kids could walk through. We decided to detour in that direction and then see the General Sherman Tree.
We did find the down tree and the kids with their hiking sticks posed for a photo. People would move through families at a time also taking photos. It is a very popular spot to stop. This time around there was actually water flowing over the trail. No mosquitoes….yet! Now it was off to the General Sherman Tree.
As we made our way to the General Sherman Tree, there was one sequoia that appeared to be split into three separate trees. Another couple was taking some photos and called it the “three sisters.” It was not the name of the trees, but the running joke was “if we keep calling it that, everyone here will too.” We all laughed and parted ways. About a hundred yards more and we arrived at the General Sherman Tree. A man there offered to take a photo of our families around the sign. People waiting were very good about staying out of the photo and taking turns. That was a nice change.
Now that we had seen the General Sherman Tree, it was time to hike back uphill to our vehicles. The boys balanced on the rocks and climbed up the trail along the border. We were now part of the group that was not talking very much, unlike not to long ago we were all chatting away as we walked downhill. It did not take long to get to the top. There was fresh water at the top too to fill up our water bottles. The Park developed a spring of free water for the public to enjoy. Nice!
Now it was time to drive down the road to Morro Rock. It would be our last hike for the day. Along the way a car in front of me hit the brakes rather abruptly. Looking out the window to see why they did a dead stop, we were surprised to see a large black bear. He was checking everyone out. Things started to get interested when the people in front of us opened there car doors to get out and approach the bar for a closes photo. Thankfully a vehicle in the other direction appeared and startled the bear away. Now that the bear departed, we were off to the trailhead.
Morro Rock was busy, but not too over crowded. We held on to our kids and guided them every step of the way to the top. Some people commented, though not directly at us, that we were “crazy” for bringing our kids to the top. One even said, “I would never do that,” and acting like we could not hear them. All well. We did and the kids loved it, especially the lizards that would come out and scurry up the rocks.
When it was our turn to walk out to the end of the rock, we asked a lady there to take a photo. She took a variety of shots and video as well. We told her thank you and after a few moments of enjoying the view, we made our way back down.
On our way down, Diana suggested finding the sequoia one could drive through with the car. I knew we were close and what a great idea for our last “stop” on our way home. It was another 5 minute drive to find it.
Diana jumped out of the vehicle when we were close by in order to take the photos for us. Jaden enjoyed it and thought it was neat. Now our tour was over and it was time to head down the mountain for some pizza. Along the way, with the sun lower in the sky, it made for some beautiful views of the sequoia grove.
The lupin was out everywhere and it would have been nice to stay. As usual there are so many things to do in National Parks. The Giant’s Forest has a lot of trails to hike and, with the lighting we were seeing, would have made some great photos! This time around, it was a day trip and a successful one. Now it was time for dinner.
We arrived back in Squaw Valley and stopped into Bear Mountain Pizza. It was as good as I remembered it from a couple years back. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The kids pretended to play on the arcade machines while us adults chatted away. I believed we stayed there 1.5 hours and then made the final trek back to our house. What a day!