Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon
Really enjoyed our overnight stay at Wilderness Lodge, Hetch Hetchy, and would definitely go again, especially as it's the nearest point in Yosemite to the family.  Had elk carpaccio last night for starter, and it tasted really nice- not a strong as beef.

The journey from Hetch Hetchy to Kings Canyon took us all the way back to Yosemite and on to Tenaya Lodge, AGAIN!  Then a four hour drive to Grant Grove Village.  At least it was on fast roads, and the 160 mls passed quickly, with a hot drive in 25deg in the valley floor, cooling to 13deg as we started to climb to 6500'.  All the way ahead you could see the snow covered hills of the Sierra Nevada, and our destination.  Grant Grove Village is a Post Office, Store, Restaurant, Visitor Centre and that's it!  The John Muir Lodge where we were staying for two nights is a short walk away.  Fantastic, it's got the longed-for bath!  The area is even quieter and more closed down than Yosemite, but then it is at a higher elevation.  Most trails and roads are closed until the end of April, so we're a bit too early to do the scenic drive to Cedar Grove.  Trouble is it gets much busier later, but another month would have given us more options.  Best time to come for gushing waterfalls.

Grant Grove is named after General Ulysses Grant, who later became President, and was famous for his exploits in the Civil War.  John Muir Lodge is named after a Scotsman, John Muir, one of the first conservationists, who worked to protect the sequoias of Yosemite and Kings Canyon from logging.  He was instrumental in their creation as National Parks.  The John Muir Trail, like the Pacific Crest Trail, near where Andrew used to live, is a long distance footpath.

Early morning, we drove up to Panoramic Point before breakfast.  Vast views over the Canyon and on to the Sierra Nevada in the distance with peaks of 14000', covered in snow.  The silence was wonderful.  Back down for breakfast at the same place where we had dinner the night before.  Good value and great choice.  Would definitely recommend it and will return here.  Laid-back and unfussy, unlike Tenaya, where they were working hard for tips with a rigid service system.  Great accommodation and surrounded by stunning scenery.  After breakfast, we drove a mile down to General Grant Tree and Trail, a third mile trail through some of the tallest and broadest sequoias in the world, and right on the doorstep.  Gen Grant Tree has the greatest base diameter at 40.3' and is the world's third largest tree.  It is estimated to be about 2000 years old, and is as tall as a 27 storey building.  They say that you could build 40 average sized 5- room houses from its wood.  Along the trail is the Gamlin Cabin built by the Gamlin brothers in 1872, who had previously lived in the Fallen Monarch, also on the trail.  Now this really is something- a sequoia hollowed out by fire before it fell and then it became the home of the brothers, while they built their cabin.  Later it served as living quarters for a team of workers, and then stabled 32 horses for the US Cavalry, responsible for guarding the Park and the forests in the early days of conservation.  Amazing!
Sequoias only naturally grow between 5000 and 7000 ' on west facing slopes in the Sierra Nevada, and Giant Redwood, taller but not as thick set, are native to the thin western strip of coastline north of San Francisco.

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