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After booking a week with more than 4,700 miles, we were ready for some downtime. Our Friday morning delivery took us to Porterville, California, well within striking distance to the Sequoia National Park. Perfect!
The road in from the Southern end of the park is a very narrow two-lane that doubles back and hairpins up 3,500 feet into the mountains. Vehicles over 22 feet are not advised - but we'd rented a car and left the truck back in the valley, anyway.
The mountains are steep and wooded, with large outcroppings of granite. The streams in the narrow canyons and valleys below are strewn with enormous boulders smoothed by spring floods for millennia. This time of year meant perfect weather - crisp air, warm sun, cool breeze - and very light traffic. Just the ride into the interior of the park was a treat.
The first park feature we encountered was Moro Rock (which we'll see more of later):
After what seemed like many miles of climbing steep, curving roads, we glimpsed our first sequoia. It was breathtaking.
Standing guard over the Giant Forest Museum is the Sentinel tree:
Further into the park, we parked the car and hiked about 1/2 mile into the forest:
And at the bottom of the trail sat the General Sherman tree, the largest Sequoia and among the largest trees in the world by many measures:
The Buttress tree was 2,300 years old and 270 feet tall. This sequoia fell without warning in June of 1959, on a clear day with no wind. Simply put, she lost her balance, an event known to happen when their shallow roots are weakened by fire, erosion, or wet soil:
Remember Moro Rock? Here's the East side of the Rock, where over 300 steps have been poured and carved so intrepid hikers can climb to the top and take in breathtaking views. We did NOT attempt the climb.
A tunnel was carved through a downed sequoia in 1937, and cars are still allowed to drive through it:
On our way back down to the valley, we snapped a couple of pics of the mountains to the West of the park:
But the pic we missed was of an adult black bear we encountered on our way back - unfortunately, she (he?) trundled back into the woods before we could take a picture.
Our visit was very memorable, and we're determined to return when we have more time in retirement!