Rich woke up again today! Hurray!
I also woke up, but not voluntarily. I first opened my eyes to the sound of a very loud conversation outside of my window, in French. Then a couple of little girls were chanting, “We are up, we are up!” No kidding.
Slowly the noises got more frequent and in all languages. It was only 7:00, people! The guys didn’t have to get up until 8:00 so neither did I!
This was the day to leave Evergreen Lodge and head out to Sequoia National Park. The park was one of our last big destinations. We were headed for the big trees now. I really hated to leave Evergreen because we had done so little within the lodge. It seemed like a great place to come and spend a week and never leave the confines. It reminded me a lot of the Poconos Mountain resorts out east.
I’ve tried to describe Evergreen Lodge to you, but I don’t think I’ve succeed in giving the best description. When I found it online, it sounded like little vintage cottages with little or no things to do. When we arrived, there was the office and store with its sweeping veranda style porch. Everything was cedar wood and very rustic looking. It turned out that the cottages were nicely planned and decorated with bathrooms and decks. They didn’t have TVs, phones or WiFi connections, but they were much better than I had hoped for.
The lodge had all the amenities that you might want on the property. There was a restaurant, tavern with big screen TV for sports viewing only. The Recreation office had WiFi and computers. There was a game room, outdoor fireplaces, pool and hot tub with a bar serving good beers, and many other things. I felt a little pampered.
Breakfast was simply in the restaurant. Our waiter this time was an English fellow. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch his name. His accent sounded like London. One of my hobbies is collecting accents and linguistics. I try to place people to their origins by their accents and word choices. The interesting part is working in family logistics to that. If I could have made money at it, I would have gotten a job dealing with linguistics.
Oh yeah, breakfast. Rick had his French toast and I had my pancakes. Rich went for the omelets again. The menu is limited here based on the supplies that they have for that period of time. The food is all still very good though.
We packed up the cabin and double checked for anything left behind. The car was loaded with bags and accessories. Time to check out of Evergreen Lodge. We drove to the office and I went in with the keys. I told them how much we enjoyed our stay and grabbed a couple of pamphlets for other people back home. Next stop, Sequoia National Park.
Well, not really. The change oil light had come one so we had to find someplace to change the oil. We stopped in Fresno at a Pep Boy’s. They were able to fit us right in. We had WiFi while sitting in the waiting room. It was Saturday, but I hadn’t seen my email in a couple days. Nothing too spectacular. Jim had titled one of his emails as: Spoiler Alert: Joy don’t look at this until you get back! I looked anyway, but it was simple and they had worked it out.
I know, I know, I’m on vacation. But then I don’t feel too disconnected when I get back. This year, everyone seems to have a better idea of what’s going on and how to handle people. My minions are growing up and will soon leave the nest. That means that I’m needed less and less, which is what I wanted. Somebody else needs to be able to do my job, besides me.
So we were off again through the fruit and vegetable gardens of the U.S. This is another section of California where they grow the things we buy from the grocery stores. The land is flat and sandy. Problem is, there is little water here. The King’s River runs through part of it and the other parts have irrigation channels through it.
Then we hit the hills that lead to the mountains that lead up. Seems strange that we are going up again. We just left all of that. But up we go. It’s pretty steep with the elevations going up. We get to around 6,000 feet when we arrive at the gates for Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks. These two parks are side by side so they share many of the same resources, like the park rangers.
I asked directions to the John Muir Lodge, which is where we’ll be staying for a couple of nights. Turns out, the lodge is in the King’s Canyon side of the park. We are in the General Grant Village, which is just down the road from the General Grant tree grove. We check in and deposit our bags in the room. No TV or WiFi. There is a phone, but everything is long distance from here.
Our first stop is to the Visitor’s Center before they close. We get some basic directions and helpful advice from the rangers. We turn right and head out to see the General Grant tree grove first. This is a short drive up a winding road. The parking lot has cars and some RVs, but not full. I park in the shade, even though it is only 72 here today. You look around and there are rather large trees on both sides of the parking lot. These are only babies though.
Twin Sisters is to the left. The sun is shining brightly behind it. We hit the trail for the big guy first. General Grant is the first really big tree for us to see. It is actually the third largest tree by volume. The first largest is also here in the park. We walked the trail up and around. The first think you see is a tree lying on its side that you can actually walk through. It was really cool do to that. Literally, the temp was much cooler inside than out.
We continued up the hill to find the General waiting for us. He is tall and so big around. We took lots of pictures and you can’t help but look upward at the top of the tree. Behind the General, there is a hill with a tree trunk that you want walk into like a cave. A large tree was standing back there that you could walk up to and touch. Rich and I had our picture taken there to prove how large they are.
We came back to the parking lot area to get pictures of the Twin Sisters. Walking behind them, you could see them better with the sun at your back. Rich took pictures and I had Rick take my pictures standing in front of them.
We continued to walk down the parking lot to the trail at the back of the lot that the ranger told us about. The North Grove trail was a service road with markers for a trail It also announced that this was a cross country skiing trail. No snow today though. We followed the trail for a ways, but it kept going down. Without a map on us showing the way, I decided to turn back. We later found out that the trail was about 2 miles and looped back to the service road again.
We returned to the lodge to grab some dinner. As usual, the menu was limited to what they had on hand to cook. Rich and Rick got burgers while I got a salad. We ordered water to help with the dehydration after hiking. They actually charged us a $1.50 a piece for the water. I think that’s because they have to get the water up here. Rich figured it was because people ordered only water to drink.
After dinner, we stopped in the gift shop to check out the available hiking maps. We’ve found over the years that good hiking maps are a necessity. Unfortunately, I left the ones I had purchased on my desk at home. We found better maps for our purposes on this stay. They had great info and told about the trails in detail.
So now it is about 6:00 and still 2 hours before sunset. We didn’t want to go back to the hotel just yet. Looking at the map, we found Panorama Point listed just opposite from the road going to the General Grant tree. Rich thought it went by the lodge we were staying in, but I didn’t see how it would. We went up the road and sure enough, it went right by the lodge. One for Rich then.
The road was single lane, narrow, and very windy. We hit one really good hairpin turn about mid way. We were probably at 6,000 feet at the lodge and this road took us almost straight up the mountain behind the lodge to 7,500 feet. At this point, you got out and walked another 200 feet up some switchbacks to the top of the mountain for the point. It was beautiful though. We were looking out over the King’s Canyon Park. There was smog so it appeared very hazy. It was beautiful. Now I had to come back down that very windy and steep road, but we made it safely.
We stopped by the market in front of the lodge to get something for my sweet tooth. Hiking had drained all the sugar out of me. We got some goodies and headed to the lodge. We got back in time to see a couple of raccoons trying to beg for food from a family on the bottom porch. No luck though. They finally scampered off into the woods when people started taking pictures of them.
So we called it a night and had showers. I worked on my blog and pulled pictures from my camera. Another big day tomorrow in Sequoia.