Tour without a goal – 25 August 2014

Grant Tree

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.
-John Muir

riding with the generals
I spent part of the morning exploring what I could in Kings Canyon but alas the titular canyon itself is thirty miles up a road perpendicular to the route. It’d take at least a couple of days to explore by bicycle. But it is not without some regret that I didn’t do it – no less authority than John Muir said that it rivaled Yosemite. I did though go to Grants Grove, a stand of sequoias withe the second largest entity on earth (by mass), the General Grant tree.


Really majestic these old wanderers who stride through time, though fire and flood and snow and the deprivations of man. There was a hollow fallen sequoia you could walk though – it had been a saloon, horse stables and barracks throughout the years. The fire damaged trees are especially fascinating as a sequoia can be completely hollowed out by fire and yet live on.


From the grove it was back to the road which continued the climb from where I’d left it. It would peak somewhere around 7500′ but then it oscillated from 6000′ to over 7000′ several times in a series of rollers. Still in Kings for the most part, there was views into the far distant rocky canyon, and back toward the foothills I climbed up yesterday. And of course fantastic stands of trees everywhere, though sequoias tend to be in groves and so it was mostly pines and oaks and also Nobel Firs – Christmas trees!


I entered the edge of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and the into Sequoia National Park. Along the road was the Lost Grove, one of the few stands of sequoias the Generals Highway passes through in this part of the park. Not too much further on I reached the Lodgepole campground and visitors center. About in the middle of the highway this is clearly the center of the car portion of the park. For even more than Yosemite almost all of this park is designated wilderness and inaccessible by car. Here there was laundry, showers and a store and I took advantage of them all.

despite mans best efforts
the giant trees still stand

What with using all of the facilities at Lodgepole I returned to my travels rather late. Happily it was almost all downhill from here to where I was camping. The road was the twisty-est I’ve ever ridden on and the first section was undergoing work and as all torn up and gravel strewn. This was a pity as it went through the Giant Forest and there were huge sequoia at every turn. But I had to keep my eyes on the road. Happily there wasn’t too much traffic.


The lower down portion of the road was if anything even more winding and steep. It had had its roadwork down previously though and was in good shape. I was mostly out of the forests – definitely below where sequoia grow, and there was huge views all the way out to the coast range. A domes and rampart like rock structures of the park would also come onto view. I descended from nearly 7000 feet to around 2500 feet, so it was pretty epic and a lot warmer. It had clouded up this afternoon, so as I descend there was a dramatic sunset through the clouds and over the foothills. It was deep gloaming when I reached Potwisha Campground where I’d be staying for the next couple of nights.

true darkness,
only light the strewn of stars–
giant trees stand silent

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