Today we headed out to visit Sequoia National Park. We drove up California 198 to the Ash Mountain Entrance (The SW Entrance) to the Foothills Visitor Center. The Visitor Center was at 1700' and we went up over 7000'. By the time we got up to the Giant Forest Museum we were over 7000' and it was mostly 10 MPH hair pin turns all the way. Lee said this was the curviest road that he had ever driven on. If you have ever driven on the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park, it was nothing compared to this drive!
We stopped at a multitude of vista stops along the way to take pictures and to let Lee out of the truck for awhile. Then we finally arrived at the Giant Forest Museum where we hiked around to see all the huge trees. We also spent some time looking around in the Museum and the Gift Shop. We learned a lot about Sequoias today. For instance, the mighty sequoias grown from a seed that is the size of one oatmeal grain. In all the world, sequoias grown naturally only between 5000 and 7000 feet on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The huge General Sherman Tree is estimated to be 2200 years old.
The other thing that is miraculous is that the Sequoia is resistant to insects and fungi. It also has a thick bark that insulates it from most fires. The main cause of a sequoias death is toppling because they have a shallow root system.
Then we had our picture taken outside the Museum next to the Sentinel Sequoia Tree which is enormous but not as enormous as many others so we headed for the Sherman Tree Trail to see the General Sherman Sequoia. The General Sherman tree is the largest tree on Earth and is estimated to be 2200 years old. The top of the tree is dead but the tree keeps growing in volume. It's largest branch is 7' in diameter! Although the top of the tree is dead, it still grows enough new wood to produce a 60' tall tree of usual proportions.
The hike to the General Sherman Tree is easy going down but then you have to climb back out and there is a 212' change in altitude which is like climbing a 20 story building. We had our picture taken with the General Sherman Tree too. There were lots of people exchanging cameras so that everyone in each group could get everyone in their picture.
When we walked back up we stopped a little over half way to rest for a few minutes and we were glad we did because after we started back up, we saw a black bear really close to the path. There were quite a few people hanging around watching him and you wouldn't believe how close we all were but the bear didn't seem concerned, thank God!
Then as we walked farther up the path, we saw another black bear only this one was far enough away that we felt a bit safer. Of course, the pictures aren't as good!
Then it was time to head back to the campground. When we went out we used California Highway 245 which was just as windy but the turns weren't as sharp so we could travel a little faster than on the way in. It still took forever to get back home though.