Jul 112012
 

You can see Moro Rock along the whole drive up to Sequoia (coming from the South).  It’s just staring at from around every bend, so naturally you have to go to the top.  It’s actually a really short (but steep) climb to the top and the views over the canyon are breathtaking.  It’s best to go early in the morning before it gets too hazy.  We had the whole top of the rock to ourselves!

Top of Moro Rock

View Over the Canyon from Moro Rock

Steph Showing Off Her Karate Moves

Falling Rock is just a short hike away from Moro Rock.  It’s probably a hike less traveled, which made it even better.  Not another single soul on the trail.  It gives a great viewpoint of Moro Rock itself and has nice rocks to climb around on.

Falling Rock

Later that day, we did the hike to Tokopah Falls—3.6 miles.  Not too bad, but we did it in the heat of the afternoon sun.  The payoff is fantastic though.  The waterfall tumbles over a vast expanse of boulders and you can climb around and over the falls for some great views.

Tumbling Tokopah Falls

View Looking Out From the Waterfall

Relaxing After the Hike

Jul 112012
 

Two of the more beautiful hikes we did were the loops around Crescent Meadow (Sequoia) and Zumwalt Meadow (Kings Canyon).  Crescent Meadow is where we saw our first black bear and it was walking right on the path!  It’s a really short pleasant loop.

Peaceful Crescent Meadow

Zumwalt Meadow was everyone’s favorite hike of the trip.  It’s near the end of the scenic bypass road in Kings Canyon.  You hike down in the meadow but there are huge rock formations on either side so it makes for a stunning backdrop.  Almost like a mini-Yosemite.  I almost didn’t want to go since it was a far drive from where we were staying, but it’s definitely worth it!!!

Passing the Creek on the Way to Zumwalt Meadow

Zumwalt Meadow Beauty

Jumping Over the Meadow

 July 11, 2012  Posted by at 1:07 am Attractions, California, Sequoia Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »
Jul 112012
 

I was so impressed by all the wildlife we saw in Sequoia.  Usually in the more popular National Parks, you don’t see much wildlife since they are overrun with tourists, but I felt in Sequoia they had really good conversation measures in place.  We saw 3 different black bears, 3 marmots, deer, tons of chipmunks, and a baby woodpecker.  All over the place we saw these caterpillar nests—covered with baby caterpillars!  Never seen anything like it.

Bear on the Trail!

Chunky Marmot

A Ranger Pointed Out a Baby Woodpecker To Us

Caterpillar Nest

Jul 112012
 

One of the coolest things we did on our Sequoia trip was visit 2 different caves: Crystal Cave and Boyden’s Cavern.  After the cave I visited with Mike in Thailand (no lights and we had to shimmy through some small holes), I’m sure these two would be quite a different experience.  We signed up for the Crystal Cave Discovery Tour which is offered once a day at 4:30pm and is a flashlight tour instead of the usual lit tour—it’s also a longer tour.  Crystal Cave is a pretty large cave, around 3 miles of underground passage and there are lots of rooms.  The caves in this area are mostly marble caves (in Thailand, it was limestone).  The calcite crystals that formed “rock cascades” were my favorite since they were glittering all over.  Like frozen snow.  It got really cold inside and once we were deep into the cave, our guide had us turn out our flashlights so we could experience the total darkness.  Besides the bottom of the ocean, caves are the only other place you can experience complete darkness.  You can’t see your hand in front of your face, but since your brain knows it’s there, you can experience something called imaging.  That’s when you think you can see the shape of your hand, but it’s just your brain projecting the image on your mind since it’s not physically visible.  Pretty nuts.  Apparently if you’re in total darkness for long enough you will become blind.

Crystal Cave really is covered all over in “crystals” and there are lots of sparkling formations.  Simply beautiful.  It’s sad to see parts of the cave that have stopped “growing” since back in the day the path was dirt instead of concrete.  The dirt would get kicked up on tours and pretty soon it coats the formations with a gray layer and prevents new growth.  Apparently they have more in depth tours and that are closer to caving and you get to crawl into more rooms.  I will definitely be back for that one day!

Calcite Flow

Crystal Formations

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Ripples

Boyden’s Cavern is in Sequoia National Forest—slightly different than the National Park. National Forests are not as protected as National Parks and they are used for commercial purposes as well as conservation and tourist services.  We happened to arrive just as a tour was about to start, so we did a regular lit tour.  Boyden’s Cavern was slightly different.  Not as many crystal-type formations, but you could see more of the river bed that went through the cave.  It looked like a smooth marble water slide!  Afterwards, since it’s the dry season, we took an alternative exit and walked through the narrow river bed down the bottom of the cave.  Some parts were pretty narrow but it was really neat to see it in its more natural state.

Cave Formations

Drapery Formations

Walking the River Bed Inside the Cave

Jul 112012
 

Everyone goes to Sequoia to see the giant trees, and they really are majestic.  Even though we’ve been several times before, it still blows your mind every time you see them.  They are humongous and it’s a reminder of how humbling nature is.  These trees have been standing for hundreds and thousands of years.  It’s crazy to imagine how the world was back when they were just seedlings and what has happened around them all these years.  If trees could talk…

2,700 year old Sequoia tree

Giants

Hiking Trail

What’s fascinating about sequoias is their relationship with fire.  Sequoia pine cones only release seeds during forest fires.  The aftermath of the fires provide ash-fertilized soil for the seeds to take root and the fires often burn up accumulated dead leaves and branches that can otherwise smother seeds.  So in order for new trees to spring up, the old tree has to burn.  Everywhere you turn, there are fire scars all over sequoias.  But since the trees are naturally fire resistant and hardy, they survive the fires and keep growing around the scars.  Other trees are not so lucky.

Fire Scar

Ghost of a Tree

Looking Up From Inside a Hollow Tree

View From Inside a Hollow Tree

One trail we hiked on had a controlled burn in process.  The parks do controlled burns every couple of years to help new sequoias grow and it’s part of the conservation process.  In the early days of the national park, the rangers always put out forest fires since it was assumed they were naturally bad for the trees.  But after continued research, they began the change their conservation policies and learned to emulate nature more.

Smoke in the Sunlight from the Controlled Burn

 July 11, 2012  Posted by at 12:55 am Attractions, California, Sequoia Tagged with: , , , , , ,  1 Response »
Jul 112012
 

Less than 24 hours after I arrived home from my 4 month trip, I set off on a 5 day camping trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park with my mom and sister.  They had already planned the trip and I happened to book a flight home that landed the day before they left.  I was exhausted, but I don’t get to see my mom and sis a lot (I had lived in NY and mom is in LA and sis is in DC), so of course I went.  We grew up camping every year as children, but this would be the first time the Lin ladies went camping on their own.  Not to separate gender roles, but usually the men set up the tent and start the fires!  We almost got into major trouble because my sis and I had both checked the weather in Sequoia and weatherchannel.com had listed it at high of 90, low of 65.  Of course, the morning we leave, Mike checks the weather as well and for some reason there was a 20 degree swing and showed high of 70, low of 45!  We were literally starting the car!  So I ran into the house and threw together 3 sets of winter clothes/long underwear into a bag and put it in the car.  Whew!  It really was freezing at night and we wore all the winter clothes bundled up in the non-warm sleeping bags we brought.

Camping in the Trees

I’m glad to report though that tent set up was a breeze and I’ve watched Mike start fires so many times that it was pretty easy for me to get it going as well.  We only saw one other all-female group so we’re pretty proud of ourselves!  We grilled our fancy dinner the first night—kalbi (Korean BBQ short ribs) and ribeye steak with zucchini and corn—and made s’mores.

Mmmmm…

I Like Mine Burned, Sis Likes Hers Melty and “Perfectly Toasty”

After packing so minimally for the last 4 months, I definitely got on my mom and sister’s case for bringing so much stuff!  We could barely fit everything in the car for a 5 day trip!!  Even though I had jet lag the first few days, I had a ton of fun and it was nice to spend time with my fam.  I was really inspired by all the quotes from John Muir in the Giant Forest Museum and Visitor Centers.  The John Muir trail looks amazing—maybe one day Mike and I can do it.  It runs for 211 miles along the Sierra Nevada range in California, starting in Yosemite and going until Mount Whitney.  It’s a backpacking trek and although you can do it in one week, most guides recommend going longer so you can enjoy layover days and take in the scenery.  Any takers?

Sequoia posts:

Giant Trees Galore

Cave Exploration

Wildlife

Meadows–the best views

Rocks and Waterfalls

 

 July 11, 2012  Posted by at 12:48 am Attractions, California, Sequoia Tagged with: , , , ,  2 Responses »