Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
The most important thing I learnt was that a Giant Sequoia tree is not the same thing as a Redwood. Giant sequoias grow only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada and grow taller and thicker than the coastal California Redwood. The Redwoods grow in misty areas and feed of the moisture. The bark is also slightly different. The Giant Sequoia and the Redwood are from the same family though so I forgive myself for not knowing that they are different trees.
Either way, they’re pretty magnificent trees.
We actually spent most of our time in the Kings Canyon section of the park. I was promised snow shoeing tours from the visitor centre in Grant Village. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough snow. Which is probably just as well given our light packing.
Instead we joined the General Grant Tree tour where I learned the difference between a Redwood and Giant Sequoia (useful). There are different estimates and considerations but the General Grant Tree is maybe the third largest in the world. It’s 81.5 metres tall and has a circumference at the ground of 32.8 metres. Pretty big.
Some mule deer also stalked our walk which was cool. And we got to walk through a felled tree which was once used as a house and a bar. It was pretty sad to think about how many trees might have been cut down before the area became protected.
It’s also been proclaimed as the national Christmas Tree for the USA. I’m not sure about getting a star on the top though.
The area has a few other hikes as well. One hike took us on a short circular route for a couple of hours but we didn’t see any animals – no bears came out to see me.
Our morning hike was a bit longer with snow and birds and the hush of white snow around us. We literally stumbled across a herd of mule deer. They were clearly more interested in finding food than us as we got within a couple of metres and they were not bothered.
We got our first taste of national parking camping here. On the first night we made it as far as Horse Creek Campsite in the foothills of Sequoia National Park on Kaweah Lake. It was a great set up. There was self registration ($20 in an envelope) so it doesn’t matter how late you arrive. Every site was on a paved road, so great for our Jucy van, with a picnic table and fire pit. The bathrooms were clean and even had a shower with hot water (we found out later that that part is not the most common).
We camped later in a site in the middle of the Kings Canyon area of the National Park. There we got a patch of road snuggled in by banks of snow, a picnic table under a tree and a bear proof storage locker. I think there might have been a barbeque under the snow as well.
We were within walking distance of the Grant Village store which stocks a bunch of overpriced rations but at least had a steady supply of honey for Barry (I knew we should have brought more of the Christmas honey on the trip).
My only disappointment as not being there are the time of year for more hiking, or being able to easily get between areas of the park. In February, the General’s Highway between Sequoia and Kings Canyon is closed (despite not having enough snow for snow shoeing). We had to drive a couple of hours around the long way through orchards and up through forested mountains. It wasn’t a bad drive and we still got to see trees.
Think I’m dreaming of trees now. Also, a sore neck from looking up so much.