Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer of the Big Trees: Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

Our first trip of the summer was to Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Park. We'd wanted to go to Cedar Grove, but the Kings river was running too high. With the record snow levels during the winter and the warm temps in mid-June, we could only imagine the river running higher during the days. Getting stranded on the other side of the bridge would be an adventure (!), to be sure, but not one that we were real keen on. So we turned back and camped at Grant Grove (flush toilets, running water, but no showers).

We did two hikes during our stay and saw a bunch of bears. Unlike the Yosemite bears, they weren't scrounging around for people food (we've had to scare them away from stealing our breakfast at Yosemite), and seemed pretty content to munch down on bear food in the meadows. All the same, I didn't feel like stopping longer to gawk and take photos of them. They were plenty close enough.

After our dinners, we'd head over the Grants Grove at sunset, to finish off our Heinekens or ice cream and photograph the big, big trees, the giant sequoias. It's hard to imagine how big the trees are, and just as tough to capture their size of the trees in photographs –  –  J and I took quite a few photos, trying to capture the golden rays of sunset bathing these majestic trees. None of mine do them justice. I suggest you go to see them in person!


Grant Grove

Knowing we'd be visiting the redwoods in a week afterwards, we decided then and there to dub this our Summer of the Big Trees (SOBT).

The camping trip was a great chance to test out some of our gear for future trips. Right before we left, J splurged on REI 3.5 self-inflating camp beds (air mattresses). The REI product description says: “With an ultra-cushy 3.5-inch thickness and soft-touch stretch fabric upper surface, the REI Camp Bed 3.5 provides plush comfort for base camping.” So the '3.5' stands for thickness! Brilliant! We tested lying on them at the local REI, and yes, the 3.5's were way more comfy than the 2.5's. And, no, we weren't even going to worry about trying the 1.75's. During the trip, they were fantastic. Five stars and two thumbs up from both of us. I'd remark, every night: "Oooo, so comfy! So … zzzzz".

As an extra bonus, squeezing the air out of them when you roll them up gives you a chance to get in some weird yoga-like moves / stretches, if you were worried about not being able to keep up with your practice. Sorry, no pictures of that, either.

Here's TheBigBear, making up dinner:


One of the Pudwill berries we brought along. Little comforts from home:


The view from our hike above Crescent Meadows (Sequoia National Park). Click on it to view it bigger at Flickr! :

Hike above Crescent Meadow

A sketch of the meadow at Grant Village:



Jane LaFazio said...

hunky J looks so happy and in his element...Don't ya love Sequoia/kings canyon? so uncrowded and beautiful. sorry we didn't run into each other!

Hashi said...

How wide are the air beds? Did you get a double for the two of you, or two singles? The airbed I have is the width of a single mattress and takes up the entirety of a two person tent. I had to buy a four person tent so that a friend could join me on my last trip!