Well, I’m finally home from the desert southwest. You know what? It’s hotter here in the muggy southeast. A lot hotter.
Just one more set of pictures to share, from my hike with Nora in Kings Canyon National Park. This is the trip we were warming up for about a month ago in the Smokeys. Now we were going to do the real thing. The hike we had planned would follow the path of Bubbs Creek, which would probably more aptly be called Bubbs Waterfall. The creek descends 5,000 vertical feet in perhaps 8 miles of creek flow. The trail following the creek requires dozens of switchbacks, and so takes about 14 miles to cover the same distance. So our hike would cover 28 miles horizontally, one mile straight up, and another mile straight down.
When we arrived at Kings Canyon, we were somewhat alarmed to learn that there was an active forest fire about 5 miles from our trailhead. We camped about 30 miles from the trail (in the closest campground with vacancies), and then drove at sunrise to the start of our hike. This drive was much more dramatic than we had anticipated, and not just because we would be driving the length of Kings canyon itself. The sun actually rose right through the smoke from the forest fire, creating a most stunning effect:
Contrast this to the photo I took four days later from nearly the identical vantage point:
Fortunately, the fire didn’t really affect our hike much at all. It was a bit smoky for the first 3 or 4 miles, and after that the smoke wasn’t noticeable at all. What was noticeable, about 2 miles into the hike, was a large black bear, about 100 feet ahead of us on the trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, but this was the most beautiful, close-up sighting of a bear I’d ever experienced. Shortly thereafter, we saw two different rattlesnakes, one with full rattle and poised to attack. Sorry, no pictures of the rattlesnakes either. We were too freaked out to do much but give them a wide berth and move on. How about a nice picture of Nora along Bubbs Creek instead?
Kings Canyon and Sequoia adjoin each other and pretty much operate as one unified park. There are big sequoias in both parks. These trees are so big that they are difficult to capture in a photograph. To give you some idea of just how big they are, here’s Nora with a couple of the pinecones:
Day 2 was rainy, a long, hard uphill slog. We didn’t much feel like taking pictures that day. Victory was at hand by the end of the day, however, when the rain tapered off, and we reached our campsite at Vidette meadow, at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet. We set up camp and hiked up the trail another mile or so, to reach the 10,000-foot mark. Unfortunately, here our view was partially obscured by trees, so there are no good photos. We did try a new thing, however: freeze dried ice cream (which begs the question: how do you freeze dry ice cream? Isn’t it already frozen?). Nora thought it tasted rather like cotton candy.
Day 3 was glorious: clear skies, downhill hiking, and spectacular views. It’s difficult to capture the vastness of the high Sierra on film, but here are a couple of efforts:
We probably could have hiked all the way out on day 3 — downhill is so much easier than uphill! But we resisted, stopping 4 miles from the trailhead for our last night. On the last day, it took us just two hours to hike out — success! Here’s Nora about an hour and a half from civilization:
What did we want to do when we finally reached civilization? Apart from the obvious (toilets with seats, real beds), what we wanted first was ICE CREAM!
Next we had to drive six hours, in order to get within striking distance of our flight out of Vegas the next day. Fortunately there were a few distractions on otherwise boring, flat highway 99. The best one was the Sun Maid store, in the middle of friggin’ nowhere California. Who knew there were so many different kinds of raisins? My favorite was the dark chocolate covered Muscat raisin, about halfway between a raisin and a prune in size. According to the store clerk, this was the only place in the world you could get them.