Posts tagged trail

Sequoia National Park – 6/4/17

We stayed in the town of Three Rivers, about 10 miles outside the south Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park.

You’re at about 1700′ elevation at the entrance, sitting in traffic:

but climb to over 6,000′. We counted over 25 switchbacks/hairpin turns on Generals Highway with speed limit at 10 – 15 MPH. Because the road looks like this on the GPS:

Park map, and signs, say “Vehicles longer than 22 feet (including trailers) not advised.” Glad we never did this road at night!
First stop this day was Crescent Meadow, which you get to on the shuttle, passing this tunnel log.
John Muir called this meadow the Gem of the Sierras – the meadow leads to a lovely woods trail:

And wildlife! A black bear (with brown fur) just 20 yards off the trail:

The trail continues in among the sequoias:

We got to Tharp’s Log, a cabin built out of a hollowed-out fallen giant sequoia log in the Giant Forest. Hale Tharp grazed cattle in the meadow, and led early battles against logging in the area.  John Muir visited and stayed at Tharp’s log cabin.

Meadow near Tharp’s Log:

And the Giant Forest beyond:

More wildlife – a deer on the trail, and he just kept hiking near us:

We crossed the High Sierra Trail, but didn’t take the 60 mile trek to Mt. Whitney:

The rings on a cross section not only tell the tree’s age, but also the weather each year – narrow rings mean dry years, wide rings were damp:

Headed straight to General Sherman, the largest tree (by volume) in the world:

You can’t zoom out enough to photograph the whole thing:

From General Sherman, we took the Congress Trail, so named because of the clusters of sequoias – dubbed the House and Senate groupings. And hiked with another deer:

Many of the trees had fire damage, but this one was burned dead:

There’s a little waterfall along and under the path:

You can see a tree tunnel on the far side:

And then we reach The President tree:

This group is The Senate:

And The House:

And this might be Lincoln:

Fallen sequoias make great playgrounds, as we reach that tunnel tree:

Little lavender flowers blanket the forest floor:

How big? See this medium-sized tree outside the Museum? It would be 9 yards short of a football field, and would block 3 lanes of traffic on a highway.

On our way out, I loved these mosaic stone walls (that kept us from crashing over the edge on all those switchbacks), and then we got the view of Moro Rock, which lots of folks climb.

Near the exit, we stopped at Hospital Rock, which, according to Wikipedia, was once home to 500 Potwisha Native Americans, as early as 1350. In 1860, Hale Tharp and John Swanson were exploring the Giant Forest when Swanson injured his leg. Swanson was transported here where his injury was treated by local Indians. Tharp gave the spot its name after a second similar incident.

That red marking on the straight rock wall? Petroglyphs!

This “Community Kitchen” slab was where the native women ground acorns into flour – you can see the grinding indentations:

Then there’s a trail down to the waterfall, with stone steps built by the Civilian Conservation Corp:

Shrimp enchiladas for dinner:

Leave a comment »

Kings Canyon National Park – 6/3/17

Kings Canyon National Park is less than 3 hours south of Mariposa. We stopped at one of the roadside fruit stands for a pile of peaches.

We reached the ‘thumb’ of Kings Canyon at the Big Stump Entrance, hit the Grant Grove Village Visitor Center, and headed behind the camping to Panoramic Point – a great spot but not even on the map!

Sat on a bench, enjoying the panorama, eating our sandwiches.

A gecko:

Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks are managed together as one park, set aside to protect the massive sequoias, most of which were destroyed by greedy loggers, who went bankrupt:

With this tour bus in view, you can get a sense of the scale of these sequoias:

Took in the North Grove Loop to Sunset Trail:

You really need a panoramic lens – or a wide angle – to capture the size of these sequoias.

This view of dogwood blossoms, sunlight, and sequoias felt like I’d fallen into a Monet – what would he have done with this landscape?

More trail, showing blackened bark. Old growth sequoias have such thick bark that fire seldom kills these trees; and fire is necessary for new growth – sequoia pine cones don’t open and drop their seeds without the heat from forest fires.

Most folks who hit this section of the park skip the near-solitude of the trail we just did, and head straight to the 1/2-mile paved path to the General Grant Tree.

The tree was named in 1867 after Ulysses S. Grant, Union Army general and the 18th President of the United States. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” on April 28, 1926. On March 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the tree a “National Shrine”, a memorial to those who died in war. It is the only living object to be so declared.

The trail has other points of interest, including this Fallen Monarch tree trunk, big enough to walk through upright:

Centennial Stump was left after this 24′ diameter trunk was sliced up and transported east for the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876 –  where the easterners thought it was a hoax:

Grant Tree itself – the 2nd largest in the world:

Driving out to our hotel in Three Rivers, we get the views:

Moonrise over the pool and spa at Western Adventure Lodge:

 

Leave a comment »

Yosemite Valley 6/1/17

It’s an hour drive from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley, winding road, one lane bridge, along the Merced River. This may be the rockslide that closed the road, requiring the 1-lane crossing:

We started at the Valley Visitors’ Center, and strolled this native village display, telling the story of the Ahwahneechee people who called this area home (before the Gold Rushers displaced/killed  them):

Morning hike – Yosemite Falls, tallest in the Park (and 20th tallest in the world) drops 2,425′ from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. You can see the falls from nearly every spot in the Valley:

There’s a lovely Falls View spot (doubleclick any photo to enlarge):

This is a good view of the upper fall to the right and lower fall on the left – the middle cascade can’t be seen from the Valley.

The trail up to the lower falls viewing spot crosses the river, and gets into the spray:

Since Yosemite Falls is mostly snow-melt, the Falls can be completely dry or just a trickle by September. Not likely this year, after the record snowfall in the Sierras. We walked back towards the open valley, and kept turning back for different views of the Falls:

Next trail was across Swinging Bridge to the other side of the valley:

Areas of the meadow valley were flooded, turning sections of the trail into dead ends. And the view of Yosemite Falls just keeps coming:

Across the valley from the Falls is Yosemite Chapel, the oldest building in the Park, from Yosemite Village 1879, although moved to this location in 1991:

We took the park shuttle to the Happy Isle stop, and walked to the Vernal Fall trail. Happy to rely on the shuttles, by the way. Not yet peak season, but the parking lots were nearly full when we arrived early morning. The shuttles get you all over most of the park, without worrying about finding a parking space. There are shuttles from the nearest towns, to get you into the park. Glad to have the shuttles cutting down on the emissions from idling cars – good place to be good to the planet. But first, a picnic lunch along the Merced:

There’s also a starting point for the hike up Half Dome – but the cables were out (like that’s the reason we didn’t do it!):

Onward to the Vernal Fall, all uphill, and a real challenge for my sea-level lungs, just to the footbridge at the base of the waterfall. Lots of stops – and views – along the climb.

The trail continues up to the top of the fall along the Mist Trail – wet, slippery, steep, and dangerous. Lots of signs in the park about the deadly dangers of slipping into the rushing waters. Didn’t tackle it.  Headed back down to the Valley. Don’t know what this “free speech” sign is about, but there were no groups there at the time.

Half Dome from the valley:

On the drive out we stopped at the El Capitan viewpoint. Some folks had set up camp chairs to sit and watch the climbers through binoculars – tiny specks of color and movement against the massive sheer wall:

I’ve never been good with heights, but I still can’t imagine someone looking at this and thinking “I should climb that.” And this guy just did it in 4 hours without ropes.

Long drive back to Mariposa, which has a nice little western town feel. Their Arts Park has this memorial to 9/11. The rusted steel is salvage from NYC’s twin towers:

 

Leave a comment »

Bodega Bay, CA – 5/29/17

Drove through rolling landscape towards Bodega Bay. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge.

Spent the windswept afternoon, exploring the cliff-bottom beaches overlooking an assortment of sea stacks – those weird  pillarlike masses of erosion-resistant “rock detached by wave action from a cliff-lined shore and surrounded by water.”

Arch Rock

Goat Rock is huge – connected to the coast by land turned into a parking lot.  This whole Sonoma Coast area has lots of beaches, but not for swimming due to the dangerous rip currents.

Goat Rock

Never saw the seals nesting – too windy to walk all the way. There’s a great Kortum Trail on the cliff-top meadow above the beaches, but the wind was wild. And the views were spectacular:

Next stop, Bodega Head, where there were reportedly pods of whales. I swear wildlife hides when they hear us coming. But more ridiculously windy views:

Drove down around to Hole in the Head, a beautiful beach area where Pacific Gas & Electric began excavations in 1958 to build a nuclear power plant – next to the San Andreas fault. Public protest and opposition to this is considered the birth of the anti-nuclear movement. In ’64, the Atomic Energy Commission gave a negative review, and the project was abandoned – leaving a nice little pond and an apt nickname for this stupid plan:

Ended the night with dinner at Lucas Wharf, where we would have had a sunset view if it weren’t so overcast:

 

Leave a comment »

Muir Woods 5/29/17

Left San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge:

We drive through the rainbow-painted Robin Williams Tunnel:

on the way to Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods has been protecting old growth coastal redwoods since 1908. Most of the redwoods in the monument are between 500 and 800 years old. The oldest is at least 1,200 years old, and the tallest is 258′. Redwood Creek runs through the valley, nourishing the trees.

“God has cared for these trees… but he cannot save them from fools. Only Uncle Sam can do that.” John Muir, 1897

The trails are beautifully groomed, and much of it is wheelchair accessible. It’s hard to appreciate how tall these things are – picture a 24 story tower.

United Nations Conference on International Organizations, meeting in San Francisco to sign the UN charter in 1945, met in this Cathedral Grove to honor the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had died just weeks before.

We were here:

Found a little resting spot along the creek, for trail mix and some words of tribute to the redwoods:

This is a detour around a section of trail that crumbled into the creek:

The trail back crosses the creek and climbs the cliff on the other side, so you’re looking down onto the creek, and the trail we’d been on.

Next stop, Muir Beach Overlook, with its WWII era stations to watch for an invasion:

Leave a comment »

Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown, RI – 1/1/17

New Year’s Day brought a visit to the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

There are easy woodland trails, ponds, boardwalks, and educational programs of all types. Love this stone wall:img_9492 img_9493

Even on a frigid day, we could hear and occasionally see lots of birds in the trees, especially the ones that still have berries on them.

img_9494 img_9495 img_9496

img_9497

Puddingstone

img_9498 img_9499

This grassy trail is bordered by a stone wall on the left, and an evergreen thicket on the right.img_9502

This is how thick the thicket is, with a hint of a trail just right for little kids to hide and explore:

img_9503

The ocean isn’t far from the bird sanctuary, so we stopped at a beach on the way home.

Shell cluster:

img_9508

img_9506

Winter beach:

img_9507

Leave a comment »

Massapoag Trail, off Belcher St. 11-12-16

There are all kinds of ways to get into the Massapoag Brook Trail in Sharon. This one is off Belcher Street, with a little bit of parking just before the Rod & Gun Club’s parking lot. You can take the trail to Devil’s Rock, or just enjoy the woods and stone walls.

img_9394 img_9395

Love these stone walls, even when crushed by falling trees.

And boardwalks, crossing drought-dried streams and formerly muddy areas:

Greens and browns, and good orange trail markings: img_9400

img_9401 img_9402 img_9404

Leaf litter carpet:

img_9405

Always something to see, a new stage in the plant-life, new color combinations:

img_9397 img_9406

Fungi as floral still life:

img_9408

Because the trail borders the Gun Club, you do hear gun-shots in the woods – not as peaceful as many trails. And there is this abandoned car hood, clearly used for target practice. img_9407

 

Leave a comment »