On the road up into the park (Generals Highway) we encountered our first herd of mule deer. Three of them were walking along the road, munching on the grass and wildflowers. We continued on to the museum. When we got out of the car we were greeted by several more deer, and were able to get fairly close to them.
The closest trail was the Big Tree Trail, so we set off down the path. At some sections snow covered the ground. At the end of the trail is a large loop around a meadow. BW saw a stump that looked like a bear, so we continued on. As we continued walking the stump moved. Anothe hiker ahead of us was already setting up his camera (due to his German accent, we'll call him Fritz). Fritz called out softly to us "bear." We got a few photos and continued the hike, leery of the fact that the bear was heading to the opposite side of the looping trail, where our paths would soon cross. Took a detour into the woods to check out a waterfall, then got back on the path. Fritz was hiding behind a tree, about 25 feet from the bear taking pictures. He gestured for us to join him, so we obliged. It was really neat seeing a bear so early in our trip - little did we know it'd be only 1 of 8 that day.
After the meadow, we hiked up to Moro Rock. The view is spectacular, 360 degrees of mountan wilderness. On the way up I hopped over the edge and walked down a bit, and encountered the first of many lizards sunning itself on the rocks. At the top of the rock we both went past the guardrail and took pictures.
Taking a ranger's advice, we drove to King's River canyon. There were many waterfalls, curving roads, and sharp drops. Once past Boyden Cave we stopped at Grizzly Falls. You can walk right up to the waterfall and get drenched in the process. The footing was precarious because the ground is slick and an incredibly strong wind blows outward from the falls.
We drove on to Cedar Grove - along the way we saw a momma black bear and her two cubs. At Road's End the Forestry Service was performing a controlled burn of the area, so we quickly passed through and headed back to the hotel.
It was now 9PM...we had spent over 14 hours in the park. Ah, but all the restaurants were closed. No problem! We stopped at the only open general store and picked up every traveler's fast friends, hot dogs and spam! A veritable feast awaited us once the microwave was finished irradiating our food. Fun times.