Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP to Alta Loma, CA

Grant’s Grove CG

Sunday October 15, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 10,170

Hazy, high 30s am, clear & sunny, mid 60s pm

We decided to begin exploring this park by driving the Generals Highway to the Sequoia part of the park. It was clear and sunny on the ridge road, but there were low clouds in the valley below us — a beautiful sight. We pulled off at an overview to take a picture and found a couple having their breakfast in this beautiful spot. Not just munching on granola bars, mind you. The guy was cooking a full breakfast of bacon and eggs on an old Coleman stove on the tailgate of his truck. He was wearing a full beard, shorts, tank top and flip-flops in the 45 deg weather. Lacking a spatula, he used his Bowie knife to flip the “easy-over” eggs. Tailgating, yes, but not exactly Penn State football weekend style!

Low Clouds Blanket Valley
Low Clouds Blanket Valley

Sequoias are not as tall as the redwoods we’d seen earlier but their trunks are much wider; so much so that they are widely regarded as the largest living things on planet Earth in terms of cubic feet of organism. They only grow in a very limited range between 5,000 to 7,000 ft elevation on the moist, unglaciated ridges of the Sierra mountains’ western slopes. The groves are smaller than those of the redwoods so the total number of trees is quite small. The trees reach heights of about 300 ft and can live for more than 3,000 years.

We started our sequoia tour by heading for the Crescent Meadows/Tharp’s Log Trail via the Tunnel Log, a fallen sequoia through which you can drive. Sequoias like lots of water and Crescent Meadows is boggy and lined with the huge giants. One of the fallen trees had hollowed out. Hale Tharp enclosed the end of the log and used it as a cabin for about 30 years until the area was declared a national park. The trail was studded with huge sequoias, of course, and the forest floor was mainly ferns with lots of lupines that must have been beautiful when they bloomed.

Sandy Poses On Lexus Under Tunnel Tree
Sandy Poses On Lexus Under Tunnel Tree
Cozy Interior Of Tharps Log
Cozy Interior Of Tharp’s Log

Next was a walk up Moro Rock for an overview of the area. It is quite a rock with a “trail” that must have been very difficult to build. It consists of about 400 steps climbing 300 ft vertical to 6,725 ft in just half a mile. The view was worth it, though. Next walk was the Big Tree Trail in Big Tree Grove. This grove contains more than 2,000 sequoias that are over ten feet in diameter. It is easily the largest sequoia grove in the world. Among those trees is the General Sherman Tree, claimed to be the largest living thing on earth. From there we walked the Congress Trail, so-named because some of the larger trees are named after early members of Congress.

Beginning The Moro Rock Climb
Beginning The Moro Rock Climb
Sandy Stands In Footprint Outline Of General Sherman Tree
Sandy Stands In Footprint Outline Of General Sherman Tree

This was a beautiful day, full of rust, gold and brown fall colors on the deciduous trees and ferns and the bright, lime-colored lichens on trees. Happily, the clouds stayed in the valleys below us and we had sparkling, clear skies all day.

Crescent Meadow's Ferns Turining Color
Crescent Meadow’s Ferns Turining Color

On the way back to camp, we stopped at the Lodgepole Visitor Center for showers. It was a cool evening so we made a batch of chili and a mixed green salad for dinner.

Grant’s Grove CG to Alta Loma, CA

Monday, October 16, 2006 … 276 Camper Miles – Total 10,446

High 30s in morning, clear & sunny, to mid 70s

Today was Bill’s birthday … the big 60!

Before breaking camp, we walked the nearby General Grant Tree trail near the campground. This is the third largest sequoia and was proclaimed the nation’s Christmas Tree in 1926 by President Coolidge. Afterwards, we had breakfast at the Grant’s Grove Village Restaurant, returned to the campground and were on the road toward the Los Angeles area by mid-morning.

We took CA-245 off of CA-180 to make our way down to the valley. CA-180 was the most twisty road of our trip … no contest! This was good road, and there was virtually no other traffic. Even so, the first 20 miles took more than hour to drive. It would certainly be fun on a motorcycle! In the valley, again, we drove past immense truck farms, orchards, olive groves and fields of cotton. This area grows an absolutely amazing quantity and variety of stuff!

We braved the LA freeway system and headed for the Alta Loma section of Rancho Cucamonga. We finally arrivied at the home of Mary Ellen (one of Sandy’s high school classmates) and John in the early evening. After setting up the camper in their driveway, we took up residence in the house. Mary Ellen served us a delicious dinner of ham, veggies and her patented combination of yams and apples.

Alta Loma

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 10,446

Clear & sunny, mid 70s

John had to work but Mary Ellen took a day off. We transcribed travel notes and Bill spent the day writing.

Sandy and Mary Ellen spent most of the morning catching up. It had been about five years since they had last been together, but within an hour it seemed like just yesterday. They took off in the afternoon for a little shopping and errands. Tonight Mary Ellen had some of that delicious honey baked turkey for dinner.

Alta Loma

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 10,446

Clear & sunny with strong Santa Anna winds, mid 70s

Sandy had a fun morning going to classes with Mary Ellen at Chaffey Community College, where Mary Ellen teaches. The day’s lesson was in MS Word and Sandy participated, learning to set up her own newsletter layout. (Watch out Bill!) Meanwhile, Bill got an oil change for the car and had a leaky tire remounted. He spent the rest of the day writing

We had dinner at an Outback Steak House. That evening, Mary Ellen pulled out her photo albums from high school so she and Sandy could reminisce.