Roaming Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park with my daughter – September 2019

My daughter, Erika came and spent 5 days with me in September……It had been years since she and I had been able to have one on one time, so it was a really special time for us.

Our first day of exploring was to Sequoia National Park General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world at 52,508 cubic feet.

I never saw a Big Tree that had died a natural death,” John Muir wrote of the giant sequoia. “Barring accidents they seem to be immortal, being exempt from all diseases that afflict and kill other trees. Unless destroyed by man, they live on indefinitely until burned, smashed by lightning, or cast down by storms, or by the giving way of the ground on which they stand.”

Muir’s observation remains generally accurate. Giant sequoias can live for over 3,000 years, outlasting all of their mixed conifer forest neighbors. What is it about giant sequoias that allow them to persist through millennia? Surprisingly, a major factor in the longevity of giant sequoias is a chemical called tannin. The tannin, present in high concentrations in sequoia bark, gives the sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, and fire.

It is difficult to appreciate the size of the giant sequoias because neighboring trees are so large. The largest of the sequoias are as tall as an average 26-story building, and their diameters at the base exceed the width of many city streets. As they continue to grow, they produce about 40 cubic feet (one cubic meter) of wood each year, approximately equal to the volume of a tree that’s 50 feet tall and one foot in diameter.

To avoid toppling over, sequoias lose branches, weak branches make for long-lived trees when they are attached to a stout central trunk and has the ability to grow new branches in its old age.  What this means is that during extreme storms, branches will fail but the tree itself is likely to survive.

This is what happened to the General Sherman Tree during the New Year’s storm of 1978. Powerful winds howled through the tree-tops, threatening the very existence of this ancient organism, but before the tree could be uprooted, one of its huge branches failed and crashed to the ground.

With a diameter of over six feet and a length in excess of 100 feet, this branch formed a huge “sail” during the storm, catching the wind like the sails on a square-rigged ship.

General Sherman - we think this is the branch that broke offGeneral Sherman - Broke tree branchGeneral Sherman BranchGeneral Sherman - The tree branch broke the fence when it fell and broke

German Sherman Loop

Our next stop was Big Tree Loop……This1.5 mile paved trail was great! A beautiful meadow, large trees, and boulders.

On our trail walk we ran across this beautiful Golden Marmont living in the base of one of the fallen Sequoia trees. He was so awesome!

Another day we took a ride to Hume Lake and to one of the look-outs on the Generals’ highway.

Then a trip to Cedar Grove

10-Mile Creek

 

Kings Canyon River

Grizzly Falls – By this late in the season the river and falls were pretty low, but it had a different kind of beauty from earlier in the spring when they were gushing with water.

On the banks of the Kings Canyon River at Cedar Grove

John Muir Rock and Kings River

Roaring Falls at Cedar Grove

River walk to Zumwalt Meadows – We did not get to walk the meadow loop due to the wooden walk bridge was washed out.

Knapps Cabin

Long before Kings Canyon became a National Park in 1940, George Owen Knapp, a successful businessman from Santa Barbara, built a small hunting and fishing cabin along the banks of the Kings River. The cabin was subsequently used and preserved by the Park Service with the incorporation of the land into the park, and it has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin sits about a100 yards off the main road between Cedar Grove and Roads End.

 

 

 

Day trip to Sequoia National Park

April 23rd I headed down the road to explore Sequoia National Park, which is the sister park right next to Kings Canyon National Park. If there were no signs indicating landmarks you would not even know when you are entering and exiting each park, they are sometimes looked as if they are one park.

This view shows one of the world’s largest groves of trees. Redwood Mountain Grove covers 5 square miles of more than 2,100 giant Sequoias trees that are larger than 10 ft in diameter.

Also here is the largest area of wilderness in the lower 48 states covering the span of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that includes both the National Forest and National Parklands.

Further along the General’s Highway through Sequoia National Park, I came across Clover Creek Bridge and Creek which is about a mile from the Wuksachi Lodge turnoff. Clover Creek Bridge is one of two bridges that were constructed in 1930. It is a concrete bridge with a masonry facade, giving it the appearance of a stone bridge which gave it a rustic style appearance that fits in with the surrounding area. There was a small pullout where I was able to park my car and go have a closer look. With it being late April I enjoyed seeing the creek while it was gushing from new snowmelt.

My next stop was the General Sherman Tree Trail. I took this trail which is a mile round trip. At the time I was researching information I found that the shuttle bus does not go to the lower trailhead until summer and I did not know that I could have gotten a handicap pass to put in my car and park in the handicap area because of my bad knees. If I had done that it would have been a much shorter and easier walk…..But I was determined that I wanted to see the General Sherman Tree so I made the hike from the main upper trail that sits at 7000-foot elevation, it is a paved, steep grade path with a few steps and bench seating along the way. There was still snow around and plenty of melting snow runoff.

About 3/4 of the way down you will come to a viewpoint where you can view the General Sherman Tree from a distance. With it being so tall its hard to get a photo when you are closer to it, so you can get a good photo of the whole tree from this spot. There are also benches to sit on and an interpretive sign here that tells you about the General Sherman Tree.

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When you finally make your way down to the General Sherman Tree there will be a lot of people lined up to take a photoshoot with the General. There is also a wooden fence around the perimeter of the tree to protect the shallow roots. As you continue walking there is a loop trail where you have the chance to see several other awesome trees, one being the massive fallen Sequoia that the trail goes through, two twin-trees, other Sequoias that have been burned or have interesting growths on them.

General Sherman Tree was named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman…..this trees claim to fame as the biggest tree in the world comes from the volume of its trunk. Some trees are taller, but no other tree has more wood in its trunk. General Sherman stands 275 feet tall and is over 36 ft in diameter at the base. It is believed to be 2,200 years old and weighs about 1,385 tons. The Sherman tree top is dead, so it no longer gets taller, but its trunk keeps increasing. Each year the trunk grows wider, adding enough wood to equal another good-sized tree.

The next stop was the Giant Forest Museum, which to me was not really a museum. Here you are able to talk with rangers about the Sequoias and hiking in the area. It also has a small gift shop and the rest is a display that shares the story of the Giant Forest and Giant Sequoia Trees. The village market building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places began renovations in 1999 and was converted to a museum and visitors center which was completed in the summer of 2001. The Sentinel which stands directly in front of the Giant Forest Museum is the 13th largest tree in Giant Forest, but the 21st largest in Sequoia National Park.

¬†On the way back I stopped and took some pictures of the Marble Fork Kaweah River…..So pretty.

And finally here are just some other random nature pictures I saw on my drive