Thursday, October 31, 2013

King's Canyon ~ Sept 28-29, 2013

We take Hwy 41 south out of Yosemite and then 180 east to Kings Canyon. First stop is the Grants Grove Visitors Center to see if we can find a place to stay for a couple of days. The clerk told us there were no rooms available, then said "wait a minute maybe I do have a solution". He switched a few things around on paper and said "I found you a cabin for a couple of nights." Rod says its my puppy dog eyes that are working all this magic, I'm thinking some force in the cosmos has something to do with it.

First evening in we went up to Panoramic Point for the sunset. Talk about a world class view: from left to right (west to east), the high peaks visible are Spanish Mountain (10,051 feet), the Obelisk (9,700 feet), Mount McGee (12,969 feet), Mount Goddard (12,568 feet), Kettle Dome (9,446 feet), North Palisade (14,242 feet), and Eagle Peak (9645 feet). Hume Lake is in the foreground. We were going to stay up there after dark to do some star gazing, but there had been reports of bears in the area so we thought better of that idea and headed back to the Lodge for dinner and evening of reading.

John Muir made his first visit in 1873. At the time there were two theories on the canyon origins. Josiah Whitney's theory was that the valleys were formed by earthquake action. Muir's theory, that the valleys were carved by glaciers during the Ice Age, was later proved to be the correct one. The park was established in 1940 and incorporated General Grant National Park, established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias.  

Sunday morning we went to see General Grant. This magnificent tree is estimated to be 1,700 years old, stands at a little over 267 feet tall and has a diameter of almost 29 feet. It was recently ranked as the third tallest tree in the world.
"What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree?
The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse".
Edward Abbey 1927-1989
There is a lot of history here so we took a walk around the grove to learn more and take in the forest smells, visuals and sounds.

A number of ravens were dancing around in the tree tops and setting up quite the racket. We heard a couple of loud cracks and snapping above us and kind of froze in place. Two really large branches came crashing to the ground about 6 feet in front of us. We look at each other and just grinned, not today Josephine! Exit stage left and we're off on another adventure.

This time its Hwy 180 east to head down into Kings Canyon to find the end of the road at Cedar Grove. Down is an understatement, we drop from elevation 7,500 feet to 4,000. The landscape is non descript at first, but as we drop into the canyon multicolored walls of rock appear and the Kings River comes into view.

We couldn't get all the way to Cedar Grove due to a bridge washout (repaired and reopened October 23rd) but had lunch at a café on the river before turning around. Rod had his fishing gear with him (this boy scout is always prepared) so we stopped in a few places. He caught and released an 8" brook trout in one spot and a couple of little fellas in another.

While he fished I explored the river banks with my camera. I hopped down off a large rock up river from him and something caught my eye. I looked to the left and saw an Ermine already dressed in his winter whites. Perhaps he knew something about the coming winter we have yet to discover! He was too fast for me to get a photo, but this is what he looked like.  

Photo credit ~ Trailtender
This was quite a day. We hauled ourselves out of the canyon for dinner at the lodge and another quiet night of reading. Off to Sequoia National Park tomorrow.