After having a refreshing 3 hours of sleep we were up and ready to explore. We picked up a few supplies at a little grocery shop and I made lunch while we drove to Kings Canyon. We didn’t make it that far in last year so we wanted to make sure that we explored it this time around. Once the pb&j’s were made we headed off the walk the General Grant Tree Trail. The general is the third largest living things in the world and was named the National Christmas Tree by some president in the early 1900’s. They have a celebration each year where local folks come out, choirs sing, and holiday merriment is made – this year it’s the second Sunday in December. We’re not coming, but I wouldn’t turn away a free trip out here if someone wanted to give me an early Christmas present – I’m just saying! We also saw a tree named fallen monarch, which is a fallen sequoia that’s been hollowed out and acts as a walkway.
Next we stopped at the Ranger Station at Grant Grove where we got some recommendations for the remainder of the day today, and tomorrow. She highly recommended three hiking trips, and our first was panoramic point. On our drive in that direction we saw several deer romping about – lovely. The hike up to the point wasn’t long but it was steep – thank goodness for the resting benches halfway up! Frank picked on me for it but, a resting bench was just what I needed! From the top, beautiful vistas could be seen. I’d post a picture here, but again, Frank leaves his cords all over the place sometimes.
Our next stop was the big stump trail. Apparently back in the day, folks foolishly chopped down our friends the Sequoias, without regard for their loveliness. On the big stump trail we saw lots of big stumps – surprising I know. The surprising part was how many unused tree bits were still around. Apparently when they chopped down the behemoth trees, nearly killing themselves in the process, they hadn’t figured out a way to use the wood, but just kept a-cutting anyway. We learned last year that sequoia wood doesn’t break down, decay, or go away, and that was definitely the scene on the stump trial – even the saw dust, just waiting around for tourists to feel bad about what the stupid humans did 150 years ago. Stupid white men…. Ugh. A sad sight, but still beautiful nonetheless.
Our last hike of the day was in the Trails of the Redwood Canyon Area. Our ranger friend told us that we’d drive far away to the Quail Flat, then drive down a dirt road for a while until we got to the Redwood Saddle Trialhead so that we could walk the Sugar Bowl Grove Trail. I know, a lot of information. Anyway, we drove for a long while, and then hit the dirt road and started off in that direction. Do you remember me mentioning our not-so-mini-van? It’s not small, but the road was so it was a little treacherous. After a good long while on the dirt road we arrived and it was really beautiful. We were the only people there and it was truly serene. We walked a bit and started to get nervous. Nothing too rational but being alone in a secluded part of the forest just reminds me that I could make a really yummy bear sandwich. We kept on and when we’d made it about 3/4ths of a mile, we felt a drop. The sky over the Giant Forest area had gotten black angry, and was on the move. We felt a drop, and we both gasped. The front desk folks had told us that rain was a possibility and whatever we did, not to get caught out in it… which was all the warning we needed.
We hustled back to our full-sized van and headed out. The rain started a little stronger, and we started seeing mist coming up from the road – clouds were forming right in front of us! Also, as we were driving back up the mountain to Wuksachi Lodge, it was getting REALLY cold. The next thing we knew, there was snow on the ground on the road in front of us. We pulled over to take a good look when we realized that it wasn’t snow, it was hail, and LOTS of it – so much that it covered a good deal of the woods, the road and was dripping off the trees. Now is where I’d show you a picture, but again, no cord. In place of a photo, go ahead and imagine the chilly majestic wood…
We took a few pictures (that you can’t see) and then headed back toward the lodge. You know how after the rain in Animal Kingdom, the safari animals go crazy and frolic to and fro? Apparently that happens everywhere because animals were EVERYWHERE! Deer were galloping about to and fro, birds were twittering, and then the bears came! We saw Mamma Bear and two Baby Bears walk from the side of the road into a meadow where they proceeded to pounce and prance about! They were eagerly lapping up the delicious icy treats – SO CUTE!!!! We were still buzzing about the bears when we got back to the parking lot at Wuksachi Lodge and saw ANOTHER bear! Sleepy Bear (the name we gave him) was wandering across the parking lot and towards the outer lodge buildings for a visit – crazy things happen when it gets cold and wet up here!
We put on some warmer layers and headed to dinner at my favorite (and only) Wuksachi Lodge Restaurant. Once again, the food was great, the service was friendly, and the wine was delicious.
We ended the night by Frank passing out fully clothed and me working on my new crocheting project while I watched the Alaskan GOP welcome home Sarah (does she spell her name with an h? I’d rather not take the time to learn) Palin with quite a tickertape parade…. Sigh. What are you going to do? Sometimes we all deserve a tickertape parade I suppose… even if it makes me shake my head and sigh.