We woke up in Kings Canyon to a very cold morning, but the sunny skies were encouraging after all the predicted rain and snow for the Sierra's this weekend. We arrived at the boundary of Sequoia National Park in the early afternoon after driving some seriously rough roads throughout the national forest, the national monument, and the national park. Sequoia doesn't lend itself well to much in the way of sightseeing aside from the major grove that is home to the General Sherman Tree and what is called Giant Grove.
There were several roads that were limited to us because of our length over 22 feet, but we still had time to walk the major groves, see the really big trees, and find a place to camp at the open campground called Lodgepole. It was still cold enough that we needed hats and gloves for hiking, and the warmth of our furnace was really welcome after we got set up for evening.
The campground at Lodgepole is extensive, more so than we realized at first, and there are loops that are by the river, and other loops that say "no generators", and many delightful places to camp among the granite boulders. Lodgepole has a market and a visitor center that is open year round, although I wouldn't particularly like driving those rough curvy roads in winter, even if they are plowed!
The store provided a nice bottle of wine and the heater made for a lovely afternoon nap in the sunlight streaming in through the window, and we didn't need much else to be perfectly content.
The little coyote (photos at the Picassa link) was our camp mascot, trotting into the camp as we set up, and lying down to see if we were going to leave anything around for him. We saw him several times during our stay, always alone. He really liked Abby, so we kept a close lead on her while he let out playful little growls in his throat, and finally couldn't help himself and he howled. In spite of his early visit, we never heard coyotes in the night, but Mo was careful to keep Abby on the leash when she went out. After a great bbq supper we went for a little hike in the twilight and found the trail for tomorrow, came back to camp and started the generator and watched a movie. Especially nice because there wasn't anyone in the campground close enough to be bothered by it. Relaxing!
The next morning dawned bright and clear and just a bit warmer after only 28 degrees for the low and we decided that the hike was doable, gloves and hats of course. The hike was lovely, about 3.5 miles round trip and never steep enough to be a problem in spite of the 7200 foot elevation. The rock cascade was dry, with just a trickle of water that was mostly frozen, but it was still nice being there, and you could imagine just how magnificent those falls would be in the spring. Returning to camp we were entertained by a couple of trout playing in the shallows of the crystal clear river under the bridge.
We packed up the rig by noon and headed down the long slide of HWY 180 to the flat valley below, filled with smoke and smog and traffic. I would love to figure out a way to enjoy California without having to cross that valley! As mentioned in the Kings Canyon post, we were really glad that we did this trip this way, since we might not make it this far into this part of California again.