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Archive for September, 2017

September 26     Lone Pine Lake Trail

They don’t come often but when they do, you just have to sit back and look. The hike up to Lone Pine Lake is 3 miles long and 1600 feet of elevation gain. But, oh, is it worth it. We got started on the trail pretty early, around 9:15. The parking area of the Whitney Portal Road is interesting. There are campers sleepily wandering up to the outhouse. There are people getting ready for their attempt to scale Mt. Whitney, at 14,497 feet, the highest point in the continental U.S. Some are going to try it in one day. Others are going to camp out one night and try the next day. We were just there for a 6-mile hike, but out packs are so full of cameras and our junk that people assume we are going to try Mt. Whitney. No way.

Lone Pine Canyon is amazingly huge. The walls are so high. As we ascend a large number of switchbacks, we move from the side of the canyon to the back of canyon.

After a while, we enter the John Muir Wilderness. I always get a little frisson of pleasure entering the wilderness.

 

We cross a few streams, we see one large waterfall, we traverse meadows and then traverse higher meadows. Dave stopped dead in the trail to not spook a doe and her fawn.

We passed some people who have accomplished climbing Mt. Whitney. They ask where we are going. We say “Lone Pine Lake”. I’m not sure they even know what that is, since it is a little off the trail to Whitney. They are focused on the one goal, not much else.

We finally reach the lake, We were there several years ago with Jim and Gayle Cummings and Debbie Smith. There was quite a bit of snow then, so we didn’t get to go around the small, pristine lake. This time, no snow. It gave it a different look and allowed us to circle it (although we didn’t do a complete circuit). We ate lunch on one side and then went to the opposite side. It provided a view we hadn’t had before – the end of the valley. It was one of the most magnificent vistas I have ever witnessed. And it was so quiet – a sublime moment. We just sat there and drank it in.

Finally, we retreated and started the trek down. There were more hikers returning from Whitney and we passed one group of young-Greek-god hikers who were going on a six-or-seven-mile hike as practice for Whitney the next day. Everyone seemed to be having a really good time, except one lone hiker who told us he was suffering from altitude sickness. 14,000 feet is really high and one never knows if they are susceptible to altitude sickness until they get it. I’m not sure if different people experience it at differing altitudes. We’ve been up to 13,000 feet at Pike’s Peak and didn’t feel a thing.

We made it back in time for our coffee break and then started driving down Whitney Portal Road back to camp. The light was great and we stopped to photograph a few times. A fantastic day.

September 27

A down day. I saw a few cottontails this morning, our first of the trip. Dave hadn’t slept well, so he hung out while I went into town to dump garbage, get water and groceries, and hit the library to upload my blog and check banking info. I donated the book I had just finished, “House of Leaves”. What a book! Recommended by niece Jen Scherba, it was more than 700 pages. A good quarter of it was footnotes. It’s sort of a horror story with a couple of other stories ongoing alongside. The librarian said she was intrigued. I said it was not suitable for readers under 17 but all the sex scenes were in the footnotes. The footnotes had footnotes. The index included most of the pages with the word “the” but no reference to the many pages of Pelican poems. Verrrrrry interesting!

September 28     Dave’s birthday and moving to Big Pine

Thursday was Dave’s birthday. I surprised him with a card and later on, a chocolate cake that I had bought the day before and hid from him. Yes, I am able to conceal a small cake in the LD. We dumped at nearby Tuttle Creek Campground for $5. We could have done it at Fort Independence when we bought gas but looking at the mountains and breathing fresh air was worth the short detour.

We knew we would stay somewhere in Big Pine but we weren’t sure where. We looked at Baker Creek County campground that ran near a little stream but it didn’t look that good to us. We ended up at Glacier View Campground. Good points: some electric sites, trees and shade, nice views if you have a spot on the outer circle. Best of all, you are on the corner of Highway 168 that goes to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Bad points: sites are small, there’s no dump and the campground is right by CA-395, busy day and night. There’s always a tradeoff.

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September 22     Alabama Hills

It was a pretty easy drive from Bakersfield to Lone Pine, CA on CA-395. 395 is one of our favorite roads. It never has too much traffic and we sail along through the high desert. We got to Lone Pine and tried to camp in the Jim and Gayle Cummings’ spot in the Alabama Hills. Alas, it was taken. So we found a more open site with a very good view. The wind was blowing pretty hard, which discouraged us from going out for a late afternoon walk. Then the clouds blocked out much of a sunset. We gave up for the evening.

September 23

We seemed to have a lot of trouble getting up on Saturday, so we didn’t. We lolled around until 9 a.m. or so and then rose and ate breakfast. Then we lolled some more. Dave discovered that our data plan wasn’t helping us; we had nada. We finally aroused ourselves when we got hungry and went into town to find lunch and online connectivity. Salty melted ham and cheese sandwiches were our reward. We sat at a table with another couple and learned they were hesitantly going to Anaheim to join their daughter and grandkids at Disneyland. We advised them on what the good rides are there – we are experts.

After lunch, we tried to find out where the good trails are at the Visitor Center. The guy who helped us gave us a $12 map that would help us go on one hike. I decided that a $17 hiking book was a better investment. I then tried to upload my blog – no dice. So we did the next thing to get online – we found the library. They gave us a guest id and we were in. I uploaded my large blog in 30 minutes, Dave caught up with his email, and we returned to our offline desert home.

The light started looking pretty nice around 4:30 so I went out and explored the nearby rocks and views. There was good light out there.

We managed to get ourselves outside to do some star shooting. I’m not half as good as Dave is at making good exposures. No matter what, it’s fun to try.

September 24     Horseshoe Meadows and the Cottonwood Pass Trail

After a great amount of time perusing our new hiking book, I selected the trail to South Fork Lake. It was long (a 10.2-mile loop) and the altitude change was from 10,040 to 11,102 feet. A pretty steep start since we weren’t completely acclimated, but if it was too much, we could always turn around. I studied the trail description pretty thoroughly, made notes of trail changes and had Dave take a picture of the map in the book so I didn’t have to carry the book on the trail.

We packed up a variety of clothing because things can change quickly at 10,000 feet. We had never driven up the 21-mile switchback road to Horseshoe Meadows and the view became more spectacular the higher we drove. I didn’t take many pictures, figuring we would have better light when we descended later in the afternoon.

We reached the large parking lot, selected what clothes to bring from our large selection, saddled up our packs, stored the afternoon cookies and coffee in a bear locker (bears will tear apart a car to get at the goodies inside), used the facilities and then went to peruse the trail map posted by the trailhead. Cottonwood Pass Trail? Right. All good. Off we went.

After 2 miles or so of flatlands, the switchbacks began. Views of the extensive meadows began to appear.

As we maneuvered up the switchbacks, we met a couple coming down the trail. They looked like backpackers, wiry and a little scruffy. “Have you been out a long time?” They laughed exuberantly. “For months. We’re coming off the PCT for the last time!”(Pacific Crest Trail, that runs from Mexico to Canada.) They had finished their trip. (Many PCT hikers do sections at different times because weather and other obligations don’t let them do all 2,650 miles of it in one trip. This year, heavy snow and fires had forced many to leave the trail at certain points. We congratulated them, got their blog id (hikers4lifepct} and cursed ourselves in five minutes when we realized we could have taken their picture and sent it to them.

Soon after that, we met a forest ranger coming down the trail. “Where are you headed?”

“We’re going to South Fork Lake.”

He looked taken aback. “You’re on the wrong trail. This trail goes to Chicken Spring Lake.”

“But we’re on the Cottonwood Pass Trail.”

“Yes, but the trail you want starts out on the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead.”

Dave and I looked at each other. We were already 3 miles up the trail. “How far up is Chicken Spring Lake?”

“It’s 4 or 4.5 miles from the trailhead. Just go over the saddle and you’ll see it.”

We must have looked sad because he offered “You look like nice people. I don’t usually tell hikers this but if you head to South Fork Lake tomorrow, here’s a shortcut on an old, unused trail that will cut a mile off the main trail.”

We continued up and up. The switchbacks weren’t really steep but the constant uphill at 10- to 11,000-feet kept us short of breath. We stopped every hour or so to snack or eat lunch. We finally reached Cottonwood Pass– another meadow. The PCT ran right through it. We didn’t see a lake and we weren’t inclined to look for it.

We rested a while, then started down the long 4-mile descent. It wasn’t difficult and it wasn’t hurting my knees but the energy was slowly draining away. I gamely trudged along, getting further behind Dave. We got back around 4 p.m., six hours after we started. I was extremely tired after an 8-mile hike. I realized that I probably wasn’t going to be doing a 10-mile hike anytime soon. Maybe something to consider for my 70th birthday. We retrieved our coffee and cookies from the bear bin and slumped in the car, munching happily away. No more walking! Hurray! I took off my hiking boots and put on my tennies. Hurray!

As we prepared to leave, a dark-haired young woman with a big backpack approached us and asked for a ride to Lone Pine. She was coming off the trail to clean up and retrieve trail supplies from the post office. Driving her to Lone Pine would save her from 25 miles of hiking. As Dave drove down, we found out her trail name (most PCT hikers make up names for themselves that they use while they’re hiking) was “Chopper”. She told us that she had experienced one scary bear encounter. She was in a tent and had hung her food up a little away from the tent so the bears couldn’t get it. She could hear a bear outside trying to get at the food. Making a lot of noise didn’t seem to deter the bear. When he finally left, she packed up and moved down the trail to another site.

Chopper was from North Carolina and was excited about the birth of her first nephew. It’s always a trade-off, being on the road or the trail. You miss some big life events. That day, as I checked my email and text messages at the local library, I saw pictures from the wedding of Steven, June Tom’s son. The couple looked great and June looked wonderful. I’m sorry I missed it.

We finally got back home and the shower was so wonderful. I made hot potato salad with kielbasa for dinner, using the potatoes bequeathed to us by a departing camper.

September 25     An afternoon drive

When we wake up the morning after a long hike, I usually get up rather tentatively. Are all the parts still working? This morning there was a little stiffness in the legs but I didn’t hobble as I traversed the five steps from bedroom to kitchen. We took it easy and had a big omelet for a late breakfast. Then we took it easy again.

Around 2:30, we took the cameras and drove back up the Horseshoe Meadows road. While bringing Chopper down to Lone Pine the day before, we didn’t feel free to stop to photograph. The light was very soft on the terrain that reminds me a lot of the floor of Death Valley from the high point of Dante’s View. Photographically, it was spectacular.

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September 16       Hart Tree and Sunset Loop

We left camp fairly early to do a 7.5-mile hike with an 1100’ elevation change. We traversed several sequoia groves and other oddities. It was wonderful walking – cool breezes, warm sun, soft, duff-covered trails. I could smell that wonderful scent of warm pine. Haven’t smelled that in a while with the long California drought.

We descended quite a bit, trudged up a fair amount. It was pretty painless. We came to a wonderful tunnel tree that you could walk through. Too much contrast for great photography.

We came to the Hart Tree, a huge sequoia with a huge skirt. I don’t know how to explain it. It looks like a senorita lifting her skirt to show off her legs. Only instead of legs, she has a burned black interior. Most of the trees seem to have gone through flames. I guess it’s inevitable when you live for hundreds of years.

We continued to descend until we finally reached the point where we began to head upwards. I thought it would be really tough, after all, 1100 feet elevation gain. But we must have gained it somewhere else – the ascent was pretty darn mild. We got back to the car around 3 p.m., about 5.5 hours after we left. I was surprised at how good I felt after a 7.5-mile trek.

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It was sunny and pleasant, so we had Cuba Libres and potato chips when we returned. And oh! A warm shower was a wonderful thing.

 September 17   Cedar Grove Area

After a late bacon and egg breakfast, we loaded up the Rav and set off for the Cedar Grove area, 29 very windy miles away. It descends into Kings Canyon and what a canyon! It’s massive. We twisted our way down, stopping at some of the many viewpoints and pullovers. One showed a picture of a strange-looking rock formation that we wanted to find.

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Since Cedar Grove is at 4600 feet, it got warmer as we declined. Eventually, we were alongside of the King River. We didn’t have a whole lot of energy because of yesterday’s long hike, but we did stop at Roaring River to check out the falls. Dave decided later light would be better.

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Near the end of the road, we managed to circle Zumwalt Meadow, a 1.5-mile stroll. The first thought that struck both of us is that the meadow looks like a 9-hole golf course. The path crosses the Kings River, then goes through a few talus slopes, then goes into the trees, next to the South Fork Kings River. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon walk and lots of people were enjoying it.

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We eventually started to drive out in late afternoon and the light had improved. We stopped again at Roaring River Falls. The sunlight was off it, so the tripods were helpful. I didn’t get anything very good. I was driving so it was Dave who spotted the spectacular rock formation. I have never seen anything so wonderfully patterned. The forces of nature are amazing.

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We continued to rise. I wanted to see the King River Ranch but it had closed for the season. We did, however, find a clever sign advertising their ice cream.

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The light was getting lower and the shadows were lengthening. So much of the foliage was dried golden grass. It was just beautiful.

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We finally got back from a very relaxing day.

September 18   A Boring Hike

I picked today’s hike – the Sunset Trail. The good part was that it took off from the Grant Grove Visitor Center, very close to our camp. The bad part was that it was pretty boring. We descended and descended and descended through forest that looked pretty burned up. Everywhere we have been here include toasted tree trunks but this area didn’t have anything else to entrance us. We did see one charred trunk that was amazing because it didn’t look like it should be standing. Half the bottom was gone and big chunks of the upper trunk were missing also.

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One hike attraction was Ella Falls. It was a pretty little waterfall but it was difficult to get a good vantage point for pictures. After that, we were looking for the fire road that would start heading us back to a higher elevation. We found it and began a long, gradual uphill trudge. The only people we happened upon were a couple riding horses in the other direction. About ten minutes later, I saw an iPhone lying on the ground. Figuring it must belong to the horse people, I wrote a note and we left it stuck on a stick with a pile of rocks around it in the middle of the trail. When we got to the Grants Grove parking lot, we saw a horse trailer, and wrote another note for the windshield and left the phone on the driver’s side step, away from public view.

We continued our uphill trudge and reached our campsite. Our Rav was still parked at the Visitor’s Center but we figured it could sit there until we were ready to go get it. An hour later, we finished the trudge and rewarded ourselves with a couple of Mint It’s Its. We saw the horse trailer parked there and went to find the owners. They were in the restaurant and it was indeed their phone that we had found. It was our good deed for the day. It was more rewarding than the hike, that’s for sure.

Our good karma caught up with us later that afternoon. While relaxing outside in the sunshine, a young man came up to us with a large bag of stuff. He said they were returning their Cruise America RV and flying out of San Francisco that evening. Did we want the stuff they couldn’t use anymore? Sure! Our loot included yard-long skewers, a citronella candle (very effective, with dead bugs), a bag of votive candles, a roll of very long aluminum foil, and best of all, a sack of russet potatoes.

We had crackers, blue cheese and olives along with a glass of wine before dinner. After that, I needed a nap. Can’t hike and drink like I used to!

September 19     A lethargic day

We were both very lethargic on Tuesday. Around 10:45, we drove all of one mile down a steep road to the General Grant parking lot. As the primary “sight” in this area, the parking lot was almost full. Busloads of tourists were pulling in and out regularly. We did our obligatory inspection of the short trail. I had thought about doing the 1.5-mile North Grove walk, but my thighs emphatically told me “Not today!” We walked far enough up a trail to have a quiet lunch and headed back to camp.

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After a lazy afternoon, we drove up 1,200 feet to see Panoramic Point. It had some nice views of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, peaks we weren’t familiar with.

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Every time I look out at a forest, the number of dead trees is astonishing. Whatever the short- or long-term causes may be (drought, pine beetles, climate change), the impact is enormous. The dead trees catch fire so easily, I think huge fires in the west will occur the rest of my lifetime. The thought is depressing.

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From Panoramic Point, we drove to the Grant’s Grove new restaurant with a very nice lodge-like atmosphere as opposed to cafeteria-style. I had ruby trout and was reminded how good Toasted Head Chardonnay tastes. Dave had beef brisket and we each had dessert. What a feast! And a great end to our stay at Kings Canyon.

September 20        Bakersfield

We packed up and descended 3,000 feet separately. It’s a pleasure to float down the curvy road in the Rav on a sunny day, watching the Lazy Daze undulating down ahead of me. We eventually hooked up and headed south to Bakersfield. We booked two nights at the usual place, the Bakersfield Palms. The WiFi wasn’t working this time and the swimming pool was empty, but we like the neat, clean sites and landscaping.

Later in the afternoon, we went up to Panorama Park. It is a nice, long park on a bluff overlooking the Kern River. It also overlooks an enormous Chevron oil field. It looks sort of like a Hieronymus Bosch scene of hell. The oil pumps look like enormous insects, ravaging the land.

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We performed the usual tasks to prepare for more boondocking. It rained a little the first night. Dave returned to Panorama Park two more times and I didn’t.

We drove over Tehachapi on Friday morning and arrived in the Alabama Hills, outside Lone Pine, around 2 p.m. The Cummings area, as we call it, was already taken, but we found an open spot with nice views all around. It’s so nice to stare up at the long line of the Sierra Nevada, fronted by the jumble of rocks that forms the Alabama Hills.

 

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September 14             Tokopah Trail, Moro Rock, Crescent Meadow

We started Thursday morning with a 3.7-mile round trip hike to Tokopah Falls. The trail was fairly level and ran next to the Marble River. Because of the all the winter snow, the river was running pretty well and the falls were quite nice. It is sad to see so many dead trees everywhere in the Sierra. The fire danger is very high up here.

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The pleasant duff-covered trail (duff is the layer of decomposed leaves and needles that gathers under trees) eventually got rocky as we neared the falls. There was only a small area optimal for photographing and we waited our turn for it. The light changed constantly, from hazy to cloudy to sunny. The Sierra Nevada is indeed the Range of Light.

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We were a little tired when we returned to camp, so we hung out for a couple of hours before driving off to see the next group of landmarks. A fairly short drive brought us to the Auto Log. We both laughed when we saw it. It was a large sequoia trunk that had been flattened on the top, wide enough for vehicles to get on for a few feet. Big whoop! We moved on.

Next stop, Moro Rock. They have built a staircase up a steep, steep granite overhang. A little hard breathing and we reached the top. The weather was overcast and the valley was hazy. Not optimal, but interesting nonetheless. I heard lots of Eastern European accents.

Our final jaunt was around Crescent Meadow. Since you can’t wander in the meadow (Restoration in progress!) we circled it. We took a picture of a foursome encircling a large sequoia and they in turn photographed us.

We continued on to Tharp’s Log, a small home he excavated out of a large sequoia. Pretty small, but you could probably get $1,000 per month in San Francisco these days.

We meandered on, photographing the interesting tree shapes and enjoying the peace and quiet.

We eventually returned to the homestead and prepared for transition day. Will we find a place to stay at Grant’s Grove? Who knows?

September 15       Grant’s Grove

We took off pretty early on Friday, after dumping. I was on my own, going 25 miles to Grant’s Grove to see if we could get a first-come, first-served campsite. Dave, finishing dumping and filling up with water, was about 15 minutes behind me. The personal connection worked once again. After perusing some sites, I talked to some ladies who were departing and signed up quickly for their campground. I then waited for Dave to arrive which he did about 10 minutes later. By the time I showed him our prospective residence, it was no longer prospective. The ranger had already recorded it and it was ours whether we found a better one or not. It worked out well. Dave leveled the motorhome as well as it went and we had a home for the next 5 days.

After settling in, the most we did that afternoon was go for a walk around the campground. It was full. Then we watched “The Scent of a Woman” with Al Pacino. Meh.

 

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September 9         Presentation 50th High School Reunion

Our trip departure was delayed a little bit by my 50th high school reunion. I’ve only attended one other of the Presentation reunions. They are always in the fall and we are almost always on vacation or trips in the fall. More than 70 classmates were planning to attend this one, including some of my best friends from high school. A couple of days before the reunion, my college friend Kevin Hanley, lost his brother. Terry’s funeral was the day before the reunion. Kevin’s wife Sue, my closest high school friend, was going to the reunion with me. I called to see if she still wanted to go, saying we could leave the 5-hour party whenever she wanted. She agreed.

Other high school friends, Cynthia McAlpin and Donna Vetromile, were going to be there. When we arrived at the El Rancho Inn in Millbrae, we could tell where the party was by the amount of noise coming from the Terrace Room. The banquet room is pretty unique: it has a long picture window that gives us a view of the swimming pool – underwater. So you get to peruse the legs and bottoms of the swimmers. That’s sometimes nice, sometimes not so nice.

After a lot of staring at name tags that had first names and graduation pictures, I had established who was who to some degree. We had lunch, sang our school song and took a class picture. We also took a picture of our Saint Anne’s Elementary School class who had gone on to Pres. There were about 12 of us.

This is a picture of my brownie troop in 1957.

I’m standing on the far left with my eyes closed

One of our classmates had started a collection earlier in the year for the Presentation Sisters who had taught us. Interestingly, the Catholic Church doesn’t support the sisters in old age – it’s up to the community. By the end of the day, she had more than $5,000 for the order. Most of us 68-year-olds were getting tired, so six of us repaired to Cynthia’s room at the El Rancho, to hang out there in air-conditioned comfort including Kathy Perata and Jeanette Gojny. We went on to have dinner together. I hope the companionship provided a pleasant distraction for Sue at a tough time.

It was a fun day. The two organizers, Janet Rydburg and Debi Paul, who have organized the many Pres reunions, will be organizing a 70th birthday get-together in 2019. I hope I can make it.

September 11         Visiting Jeff and Betty

Sunday was RV-loading day. It was another hot one, in the high 80’s. (I know, I know, that’s nothing to many of you. But that’s hot for San Francisco.) The week before, San Francisco hit 106 degrees, a city record. It’s pretty miserable because most city people don’t have air-conditioning. We got a tiny bit of cross-breeze by opening out east and west doors and windows and running a small fan. The following day was almost as hot.

I started hauling stuff downstairs and into the rig fairly early. The morning of takeoff, all of the refrigerator and freezer went in. I figure we make a total of about 80 or 90 trips up and down the stairs to complete loading. Some stuff always stays in the Lazy Daze but we need to add our many creature comforts and technologies. Our niece, Jen, is staying at our place while we’re gone so we don’t need to be concerned about leaving it empty. Dave, of course, received his jury duty notice a week before we left and changed it to Thanksgiving week. We know we’ll be home then!

We left on 9/11 and plan to return on Friday, October 13. What could go wrong with those dates! The drive to Merced was actually pleasant. Traffic south to Gilroy was fairly light and the trip over Pacheco Pass is always pretty. It was a typical fall day at the Denno’s – about 95 degrees, too hot to hang out in their wonderful back yard. So we caught up with each other, talked to Mac, their 17-year-old Cockatiel, chomped appetizers, guzzled drinks, ate a wonderful dinner and gabbed until we wore out and went to bed. While there, we had a rare experience – a long (90 minute) thunderstorm, with almost continuous lightning. When we saw the bolts, they were horizontal! We had never seen that before. It provided one heavy, short rain shower that refreshed the air a little.

The next day, Jeff made us a great breakfast and we made our farewells. Before high-tailing it to Kings Canyon, we had to do a final shop in Fresno and gas up the LD and Rav4. That took longer than we expected. We finally headed up 180 through orange and grape fields. Then we began a long ascent up 5,000 feet of windy road. We finally reached Sequoia National Park and then had 25 more very curvy miles to go. We arrived to a very nice site at Lodgepole Campground, set up camp, and enjoyed an hour or two of sitting in our camp chairs, enjoying the quiet environment. Late that night, when I opened the door to take a peek outside, the dark sky was full of stars and the Milky Way was very milky.

September 13             General Sherman Tree and Congress Trail

On Wednesday morning, we lounged around in bed, enjoying the quiet and being way out from civilization. Then we leapt into action around 9:30 or so. I filled up water bottles near our neighboring campsite. There, I saw an older fellow combing his long beard as he sat in the tiny doorway of his teardrop trailer. I’m sorry I didn’t get a shot of that!

Our first target: the General Sherman Tree and the Congress Trail. You get to the General Sherman Tree by a half-mile, pretty steep descent. When you finally see it from a viewpoint, it’s like “Huh? This is it?” At 275 feet, it’s not the tallest. At 2,200 years of age, it’s not the oldest. It’s circumference is 103 feet but it’s not the widest. By “biggest tree in the world”, they are talking about volume. Its volume is 52,500 cubic feet. Its weight is 1,385 tons. People were lining up to take their pictures with the tree. It’s kind of funny – all you can get is the person and one small part of the bottom of the tree but it still seems important to them.

We made a few images of the pink-barked Sherman and then starting hearing the word “bear”. Looking about 25 yards away, we saw a black bear with a green tag numbered “24”on her ear, browsing. It was pretty close to the paved path where about 20 people were lined up against a low fence, photographing. It started heading towards the fence. Dave and I backed away; we didn’t want to be the ones closest to the bear. One guy was getting closer to the bear’s path. Then too close. We heard a huff and luckily, the bear bluff-charged him. He backed off and the bear crossed the paved path and continued down a slope. Lucky guy! Black bears don’t look that dangerous but they are.

After that, we repaired to the Congress Trail, a 2.5-mile trail that goes by several sequoia groves. It was a warm and beautiful afternoon on the trail. There was dappled sunlight and a haze in the air that made an interesting backdrop for anything I focused on.

We ambled along, then heard people in the near distance, clapping their hands and yelling “Get away, bear!” As we approached them, we saw the bear they were yelling at. It was paralleling the trail but about 60 yards downslope. It had a green tag in its ear and seemed to be the same bear we had seen earlier. I became uneasy that this bear was so adapted to humans in its vicinity. I started to turn back, but Dave said he was going to continue up the trail. After I saw that several groups of people were headed the same way as Dave, I turned around and caught up with him.

The Congress Trail got its name from two groups of sequoias called the House and the Senate. I immediately noticed the trees stood tall and didn’t do much. Remind you of anything? We had a lot of fun photographing in the lovely afternoon light.

It wasn’t a long trail but we were tired by the time we had ascended back to the parking lot. Sequoia and Kings Canyon are mostly around 6,800 feet, so it takes a day or two to acclimate.

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