Sequoia National Park - or very big trees!

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Quality Inn Ridgecrest
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 3, 2012

We made a sharp start and headed north through familiar sounding places like Exeter. Our first stop was overlooking Lake Kaweah - a reservoir providing irrigation for the endless miles of olive and citrus groves and vines that populate San Joaquin Valley. We then went on to Three Rivers for a break and routine Diet Coke and bagel.

We entered the National Park - at first a little surprised to be paying $20 to do so - but soon considered it well worth it. We stopped by the Visitor Centre where we learned that the only road the park was undergoing construction and was only open briefly every 2 hours! We planned our route accordingly and headed off to Buckeye Flat where the Kaweah River Plummets through a gorge with much roaring and white water. I found a path that allowed access safely onto rocks that were right at the water's edge. I wouldn't give anyone much chance if they fell in.

We then joined the queue for the noon opening of the road and eventually made it through. The problem was that there was now a procession of cars at least a mile long all heading for the same limited number of places to stop. As nearly everyone peeled off to Moro Rock, we kept straight on and headed further into the Giant Forest. The trees are truly majestic - poetic in their beauty. The Giant Sequoia's especially with their huge girth and trunks of uniform thickness ascending to nearly 300' on average. They are the biggest trees on the planet in terms of the volume of timber they hold within their trunks.

We visited General Sherman With a height of 83.8 metres (275 ft), a diameter of 7.7 metres (25 ft), an estimated bole volume of 1,487 cubic metres (52,513 cu ft), and an estimated age of 2,300 – 2,700 years, it is however among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.

We then made our way to Moro Rock and thankfully the crowds had dispersed - which was just as well as the climb to the top was both arduous and at times very narrow along crevices and up steep steps. Yes I did make it - eventually! There are 400 steps and the path is nearly 800' long. It is a favourite place for rock climbers as it offers a vertical drop of 4000' to the valley below - comparable to the depth of the Grand Canyon.

We then returned to the main road driving through Tunnel Tree to join the join the queue awaiting the 4pm opening of the road. The drive to our overnight accommodation took much longer than anticipated and we were constantly on the go for 5 hours - apart from a 30 minute meal break at the East west restaurant in Exeter which provided good food and excellent value-for-money.

We drove through some amazing rolling countryside reminiscent of Tuscany. I stopped to grab some shots and you catch them here along with some others from the day. We eventually arrived at the Comfort Inn in Ridgecrest at 21:45, exhausted.
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