Saturday, June 20, 2009

Anniversary trip Part 1: Sequoia NP - June 2009

T and I finally decided where to go to celebrate our 10-yr anniversary. We would drive to Sequoia National Park to camp for a few days and then head west to the coast - Cambria - to check out Hearst Castle and the elephant seals.


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We got to Sequoia on a Friday afternoon and didn't think we'd have time to check out all the campsites before choosing ours (we tried our first choice, Buckeye Flats - judging from the website - and it was full) so we just grabbed the first spot we saw. It was at the Potwisha campground in the foothills (2,100 ft). After struggling with our huge, 10 person tent (this was our first time setting it up) we realized one of our stakes had pierced an anthill and there were huge biting ants all over us and the tent. So, we moved it after it was already set up! It all worked out in the end.



In the morning I went to walk around near this waterfall by the campground and took these shots:


Mule Deer


pictographs



holes for grinding acorn meal

And that was before T even got up!

Then we headed up (pdf map of park) deeper into the groves of Sequoia trees. The road was so steep and there were all these switchback signs. At some points we wondered if we were seeing Sequoia trees and then, when we saw our first ones we knew. They are so big! And red! Here are some shots that try to show the size. It's really hard to capture with a camera.



photo by TH


Mule Deer - photo by TH

Well, we were on a mission to Lodgepole Village to get our tickets for the tour of Crystal Cave. On the way there we stopped at some vista points to take photos and randomly ran into someone I went to college with in Ohio. Seriously. Most random thing that has happened to me, maybe ever.


Amazing to be surrounded by so much space untouched by humans. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Morro Rock - photo by TH

Once we got the tickets we stocked up on some firewood, charcoal and snacks for the campsite before heading back down the hill to the cave.

I was super excited about the cave tour. I had recently watch the BBC's Planet Earth and was itching for some spelunking! It was really hard to take any photos in the cave (so dark!) but it was a nice little hike from the parking lot to the cave entrance and I got these photos.






Although there were many people on the cave tour that were annoying us to no end (hadn't they considered that their already loud voices would be even louder - and more annoying - in a cave?), it was amazing to see all the different formations and hear how they were created over hundreds and thousands of years. Crazy to think about how simple water and minerals can create something so beautiful, given the time.

After the tour we headed back to the campsite because it was getting dark, but stopped at the waterfall I'd been to in the morning so that T could check it out. We still couldn't believe how quiet it was there!

That night we heard bears again and they seemed pretty close to the tent. The camper in the neighboring site kept yelling "Get outta here you hairy bastard!". It was pretty funny and helped us relax - this guy had obviously dealt with bears before. In the morning we packed up the car and headed out up into the park again. But first I took these shots of the wildlife we were seeing around the camp.



Ground Squirrel

Since we didn't go on any hikes away from the main trails and stayed in the southern half of the park (lower altitude) we didn't see any bears, bighorn sheep or other mountain mammals. I'm sure we could have seen some beautiful birds if I would have paid more attention, but this was at the beginning of my interest in birding. The next time we go up there, hopefully we'll explore the higher altitude areas more.

Before we left we decided to drive up to Morro Rock. It was foggy that morning and we drove through some recently burned areas. Beautiful! It was a really steep climb to the top and when we got there we couldn't see a thing through the thick fog. Still, glad we did it.


We also stopped at Auto Log on the way back. Huge!

photo by TH

Then we left the park to head for the coast where still more beauty awaited us. . .

Click here for more of my photos from Sequoia.

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