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
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.