California? Again? Really?
Posted May 11, 2017 by John Woltman
Yes, really. This time I'm accompanied by my brother Scott and by JTB. We drove around the Sierra Nevada area to visit Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. We took many photos, why don't you look at some of them? I also got pretty wordy, ick.
We all arrived at LAX on Thursday, May 4, then commenced the 4 hour drive to Three Rivers, CA. We turned in early so we could be up at dawn to explore Sequoia. That was our exciting first day.
Let's get this out of the way: Sequoia National Park is beautiful. If I keep saying how beautiful everything is, I'll never get done. That said, our first stop really drove home how beautiful the park can be. We parked at the visitor center and walked to Moro Rock. At the top, we went past the guardrails and followed an older path to the very edge of the rock. The sky was clear for miles and gave us a great view of the surrounding mountains and town. After a quick break for homemade beef jerky, we hiked back to the visitor center, stopping in a hollowed-out tree along the way.
We ate a medicore lunch at Wuksachi Lodge, and drove across the Clover Creek Bridge, stopping to take a look. I walked down to the edge of the creek, and after admiring the view I turned back to walk back up. I noticed the sole of a hiking boot on the path above me, and thought, some poor bastard's shoe fell apart. And then I slipped, because the bastard that lost his sole was me. My 12 year old boots had finally fallen apart.
I hadn't thought to bring my sneakers with us in the car, so we drove to the camp store and bought four tubes of superglue to (attempt to) repair my boot. It didn't work, not even a little. Since being shoeless negatively affects hiking, we drove back down the mountain to the hotel to pick up my shoes. Instead of returning to the park, we went to Slip Rock recreation area, and walked down to the Kaweah River and jumped around on the rocks there.
We ate dinner at the Gateway Restaurant, and it was pretty good, but service was glacially slow.
On our final day in Sequoia, we stopped at the General Sherman tree, which is the largest tree on Earth (by volume). Then we drove to the Takopah Falls trailhead, and started a very cold hike to the falls. The temperature on the previous day was about 75. The temperature near the falls today was about 48, and we were not dressed for the weather. Sections of the trail were still snow-covered and slippery.
We ate a quick lunch at the campground cafeteria and left Sequoia to visit Grizzly Falls in Kings Canyon Park. JTB drove, and I'm glad he did; just as the temperature had fallen, so had the fog. Thick clouds covered the road, and the mountain vistas remained unseen. The weather cleared as we approached Grizzly Falls, and we finally got a good look at the mountains we'd been driving through. From there we drove to our next hotel in Mariposa, CA, and ate dinner at a rather crap Chinese place.
Our single day in Yosemite was well spent. We drove around the park for awhile and decided to eat a picnic lunch at the top of Vernal Falls. The sandwich situation was not what I remembered from my 2005 trip. There weren't any fresh sandwiches available, and, more disturbingly, all of the premade stuff contained mayonnaise. Ordinarily I would applaud the inclusion of mayo, but neither Scott nor JTB are fans. Even the Italian hoagies and the pita pockets had mayo, which is just plain weird. We left with a sack of oranges for Scott and a turkey and swiss on ciabatta with mayo (WHAT?) for JTB.
The hike was, to the current, fatter version of me, grueling. But it was worth the relentless plodding, primarily due to the picnic. While we rested and lunched at the top of the falls, I pointed out a Steller's Jay in a nearby tree. JTB took a few pictures of it, and then reached for his sandwich, which was now partially missing. While he was taking pictures, an opportunistic squirrel darted in a ran away with half of the turkey/swiss/ciabatta/mayo abomination. The total length of the hike was about five miles, but we weren't finished at Yosemite yet, because we hadn't completely soaked our shoes in ice cold water.
To remedy this, first we drove to Lower Yosemite Falls, and then to Bridal Veil Falls. The path to Bridal Veil was completely flooded in several inches of water. By the time we returned to the car our shoes and socks were completely soaked. We returned to our hotel, and ate dinner at Savoury's and had an excellent bottle of Sierra Cider.
The first half of our final day was spent driving back to Los Angeles. Once we reached LA, we checked out the La Brea tarpits (and the tarpits' museum). Some of the tarpits are still active and bubbling, and they continue to capture unwary squirrels and and birds, and, I assume, school children. Doing headcounts at the end of each field trip is probably quite troubling.
We checked in to the hotel, and then checked out Santa Monica Pier. We ate dinner at a fair-to-middlin' Mexican place, and stopped at an arcade to play a few (eight? nine?) rounds of air hockey. We turned in and were up again at 4:30AM to catch our separate planes home.
Need more pictures of trees?
If you'd like to see EVEN MORE PICTURES of California's National Parks, check out all my other posts.