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Published: August 4th 2010
We drag ourselves out of cold beds to another chilly morning. Breakfast in the restaurant today: Liam has french toast with bacon, Joseph fried eggs on toast, Ky just bacon while I have 2 fried eggs on a ham steak with 2 pancakes on the side. The waitress makes a couple of mistakes with the order and gives us a 20% discount. Nice!
Suitably nourished, we drove about 45 minutes along the General Grants Highway to Lodgepole Village. There we looked around at the displays and watched a movie about bears while Ky had the washing going at the laundromat. A medium sized brown coloured black bear (only 35% of black bears are actually coloured black in colour) was looking for food about 10m above the road. Liam and I watched him/her (I wasn't about to ask) for a while until he/she ambled on out of sight in the woods.
Once the washing was done, we drove 5 minutes down the road to the General Sherman Tree carpark. The large carpark leads to a wide asphalt path that heads downhill to the said tree. Its in a grove like the General Grant Tree, with other Sequoias around it. I
later found out that there are some 16,000 mature giant sequoias in California. Rather than just to the short trail, we opted to go cross-country along part of the GS Tree trail, Congress Trail (so named because of the 'House' and 'Senate' groups of sequoias on the trail), across the Circle Meadow to join the Crescent Meadow loop trail and ending at that carpark. Total around 3.4 miles. Because we couldn't leave any food or smelling stuff in the car, I had to carry the bottle of washing detergent!
The walk was amazing. All forested, with sunlight streaming down on flower bedecked glades, alternating patches of light and shadow in the glades and on the trees. An assortment of 'normal' sized trees, pines and conifers suddenly set to scale with a towering, immense Sequoia glowing with its orangey-red bark. Everywhere you look are picture-postcard scenes. Meadows with white, yellow and orange flowers leading to dark green foliage of the surrounding trees, and that ever-present red trunk of a Sequoia shining through.
I was walking with Liam while Ky and Joseph raced on ahead. That was ideal because Liam's slower pace gave me time to take lots of photos.
The pic of him hugging a tree is one of the Senate Group of trees. This type of grouping only occurs when there is an intensely hot fire that germinates lots of seeds, combined with plenty of water.
Despite his shorter legs and unwillingness to take the long walk, Liam coped remarkably well, finding lizards, snakes and squirrels, talking about getting his Junior ranger badge, and predicting that Joseph would be already at the carpark complaining of wanting to go home!
After a few hours we arrived at the other end where we caught the free shuttle to Moro Rock. Ky and Joseph went up the rock, Ky with the camera taking some pretty good pictures. Liam and I waited at the bottom, feeling that we'd done enough walking. The shuttle bus then dropped us at the Giant Forest Museum, which we had a quick look at. There is a scale display there showing the relative size of the General Sherman Tree, the Founders Tree which we saw in the Redwoods, the Titanic, Elephants, Blue Whale etc. It showed the oldest living tree, a 4,700 year old bristlecone pine which I think is in Colorado, and the widest
tree, the Tule in Oaxaca Mexico. We may get to see that one too.
Nextm shuttle back to our car at the GS Tree, and a drive to Lodgepole Village where we had icecreams and a play in the Kaweah River (stream). Then a basic fast-food style dinner at the Harrison Cafe, followed by the drive home. No more bears seen.
We attended another evening talk, this time about the life cycle of the giant Sequoias and importance of forest fires. It was very well presented.
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