Sequoia National Park

This past week I spent exploring more of the amazing state I now call home, California. A few months ago I proposed this trip to my friends and a couple jumped on board, yay! This is how I found myself driving north in a familiar Volkswagen Jetta with boys I now know fairly well (read about our first trip in December). It was only Sean, Matt and I so I had slightly more room in the backseat, lol. We cruised up to Visalia, CA Wednesday night and crash in a hotel room thanks to Matt’s points. I was excited to get to go camping and use my tent again though and didn’t sleep much, lol.

sequoia 007Thursday morning we had an early start and headed into Sequoia National Park! We twisted and turned up to about 7,000ft where we checked into our campsite at Stony Creek Campground. Our plan was to set up our tents, pack lunches from our supplies and head out on a fairly long day hike, which is exactly what we did. After consulting our library book of trails (circa 2002), we selected the Hart Tree Trail which is in the Redwood Canyon section of the park. I should mention now that Sequoia is a huge park, which is why we chose a base camp and then drove to various trail heads during our stay. It is also full of bears, and our campsite had bear-proof boxes for all of our food. Yikes!

sequoia 022 Hart Tree Trail was a moderate loop that was about 7.5 miles in length. Highlights along it were a fallen sequoia turned into an actual log cabin, several creek crossings on log bridges, gorgeous green meadows, the Hart Tree, and the Fallen Goliath… And of course the other huge trees 🙂 We trucked uphill for the first three miles or so, then stopped for lunch on a rocky vista. The Hart Tree used to be the fourth largest sequoia in the park and is quite large. It’s base resembles an upside-down heart and “Love” was spelled out in pine cones and sticks (awww…). The Fallen Goliath was so big that it was taller than us, laying on its side, and it had entire other normal-sized trees growing out of it. Insane! After the hike we swung by the General Grant sequoia, which is one of the largest in the park today. We then made it back to camp before nightfall, just in time to cook delicious chicken fajitas in our Dutch oven. Definitely a fun, but tiring, day and sleep came easily once the sun went down and the fire went out.sequoia 083Friday we were up fairly early and decided to squeeze in a quick 4 miles in the morning before Sean’s girlfriend Katie joined us at lunchtime. This time we drive south and tried out the Tokopah Falls Trail, which left from another campground and one of the ranger stations. This meant that it was a little more crowded than Thursday’s hike, but really just that we actually saw other people occasionally. Unlike the remote Hart Tree hike, this trail stuck close to a river most of the way. It was an out-and-back hike that went consistently uphill to the falls and thus downhill home. The scenery was gorgeous with the rocky mountain backdrop. At the top, Sean and Matt soaked their feet in the icy water at the foot of the falls while I sat on a rock in the middle of the pond and ate an orange. We then headed back down, met Katie and had lunch at the campsite.

sequoia 186Our afternoon plan was to explore the Crystal Caves and see the General Sherman tree. After a length drive down a windy road, we got to the cave entrance. Our tour guide was only okay, but luckily the caves spoke for themselves and we got to see some amazing formations. Then it was back up the trail and road to the main attraction of the park. The General Sherman tree has a diameter of 25 feet and while it isn’t the tallest or thickest tree in the world, it is considered the largest single-stem tree by volume. How cool is that?! It’s estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old and is wicked cool to see. After some cool photos and lots of new information, we called it a day and headed back to camp for Dutch oven pizza. This whole Dutch oven thing is amazing and the pizza produced was delicious! We, of course, had s’mores for dessert (complete with dark chocolate for a twist of flavor) and then crashed hard.

sequoia 286Saturday’s agenda was a day hike to a cool spot to hang out for a while. We started a little later since we had full eggs, sausage, oatmeal, and fruit for breakfast. Then we drove to the trail head of the Weaver Lake Trail, which was 6.4 miles up and back… And I do mean up! We passed a few hikers who said they had just scared off a bear, but sadly we just saw deer, squirrels, marmots, birds, etc. while hiking on our trip. The sunny, hot hike up worked up our appetites and we sat and ate soon after arrival at the lake. Once we had our energy back, we stripped our outer layers and jumped into the lake. It was much warmer than the waterfall from the day before and we could actually swim around. Then I climbed some boulders and laid out like a lizard to dry out. Quiet, gorgeous, peaceful.. Heaven. When we were dry(ish) we descended and got back home with enough time for naps and card games before our last dinner of “hobo stew”. This was basically tin-foil packets of chicken and veggies tossed in seasoning and then wrapped and set in the fire to cook. Delicious!

sequoia 322This morning we took down camp and hit the road to get back before the sun set. I had an absolute blast this weekend with all three of these friends. Conversations were fun, songs were epic, and games were intense. It was just nice to turn off our phones and put our wallets in the glove box for four days. There were few interruptions or chances to multi-task and I could just breathe. It was awesome and I look forward to more trips like this as summer continues! Okay now, I need to get off the computer and finish laundry and packing for my next trip which leaves at 5am tomorrow morning 🙂 Oh, and many more pictures of this trip will be posted to Facebook after I get home in two weeks.  But for now, stay tuned for updates!

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  1. Trackback: Vacationing in Virginia | Rays of Funshine

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