Tuesday, August 19, 2014

California Vacation Adventures - Part II

Welcome back! Thanks for returning to read more about our California Vacation Adventure!


The second part of our trip was spent at the Sequoia National Park. I knew the sequoia trees were going to be big, but I really had no idea how big until I saw them in person. As we drove up Ash Mountain leading to the park entrance we had a beautiful view.

The big rock formation you can see in the distance in the photo below is Moro Rock. Moro Rock is a dome shaped granite monolith situated at 6,752 ft. From the top you get a phenomenal view of the Great Western Divide. In order to get to the summit there is a 797 foot-long stairway to climb. It consists of 400 steps that follow natural ledges and crevices. 


Of course we climbed it :)

We stopped at various spots along the drive up to take photos, read information boards, and take in the incredible view. The photo below shows some of the animals we might encounter during our hikes at Sequoia National Park. The bear population is pretty active so I was really hoping to see one.


One of the coolest things about the drive was how quickly the scenery changed. One minute we were looking at lots of granite, and they next we were in the middle of giant sequoias. 


These aren't even the big trees.

Our first hike of the day was to Moro Rock. We started from the trail head located at the Giant Forest Museum. From there, the hike to the base of Moro Rock was 1.8 miles. We had a fairly leisurely hike. Enjoying the quiet and beauty of the forest.



Doesn't it look like fairies should fly out of the trees at any moment?? Totally looks like something you would find in Fern Gully or Tinker Bell's Pixie Hollow.


The climb up Moro Rock was pretty scary for someone afraid of heights. The entire thing had handholds or railings, but it was very much straight down on both sides of the rock. I turned around a few times to wait in a less scary area, gathered some more courage, then headed back up the rock staircase. 



 

Finally we made it to the top. The view was totally worth the climb up. To one side you could see an incredible view of the Great Western Divide, and on the other side you had a beautiful view of the valley below. 




The Great Western Divide

On our way down Moro Rock we overhead someone say they saw two bears on the trail we had just come from. I got super excited! I had never seen a bear in nature before. We decided to jog on our way back. Why not? The trail was perfect-- a light layer of pine needles covered everything. As we were running Nick suddenly said "Shh, there's the bear!". We quietly walked closer to it, and saw it was a baby bear cub. No momma bear was anywhere to be seen. Of course Nick still wanted to get closer though :) We got some pretty good photos and I was happy to finally see a bear.




Our next stop was to see the General Sherman Tree. When we arrived at the trail head there were tons of people around. This was definitely the touristy part of the park. 



This tree is considered the biggest sequoia by volume. It's not the largest, widest, or oldest; but is 1,487 cubic meters and estimated to be 2,300 - 2,700 years old.

A branch that fell from the General Sherman Tree.

We decided that we wanted to do one more hike for the day. We ended up hiking the Tokopah Falls trail. The trail was 3.4 miles round trip and gained 700 ft. Along the way we saw our second bear! This time I was able to get a pretty decent video. The bear kind of reminded me of Sarge. It was standing on a fallen tree digging through the bark. 
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I think I could have a second career in narrating nature videos.

Again, we were rewarded with a pretty awesome view the entire hike-- especially at the top.

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Video of the hike up Tokopah Falls Trail


The waterfall wasn't quite as big as we were expecting, but it had a pretty deep pool at the bottom. When we got to the waterfall there were some guys jumping into the pool off the rocks. 

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Nick decided to jump in too!



We finished out our hike with a nice run back down the mountain and soaking our feet in a steam.

If you enjoyed reading about our day at Sequoia Nation Park, please check back later to read about the rest of our California adventure.

Up Next: Yosemite National Park!

Until next time--