Day 119 – 12/27 Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park

We did a lot of driving, but were rewarded with an amazing time with snow by the giant trees at Kings Canyon.

As usual, I woke up first even with no alarm, so I tried to get at least some summaries written up for the days I was behind on posts.  I was able to write down the main things and now have to go back and finish writing, I’m a few days behind now.  It was a quiet morning, so it was good.  

Our plan was go leave around 9am, so I turned the TV on at 8 so it’d make noise and wake everyone up, and it worked. hahahaha…

Bia woke up pretty much right after I turned the TV on, and went right to Rosie’s letter.  She was so eager to see what Rosie (the elf) had said, that she didn’t even say good morning.  She grabbed the letter that was under the TV, and came read it by me.  She was very happy with the letter.  Bia had made a tiny journal, with blank pages, and she gave to Rosie and asked Rosie to write about her days and bring back next year.  It looks like Rosie said she will do so, so next year we’ll see this tiny journal with some day to day stories from the North Pole 🙂

Bella woke up right after that and so did Carol.  The girls read the letter again, talked about how cool it is was, and how they will miss Rosie… Bia even cried.  Then we all focused on changing, having breakfast, and getting ready to go by 9.  We have a long drive to get to Kings Canyon, which is about an hour and a half or so from here, and with the holiday and weekend, we wanted to get there somewhat early so we were not waiting too long in line to get in.

As we left, it was raining here and there, but the weather didn’t look too bad.  The drive through some parts of Fresno county take you through a lot of fruit farms.  There’s the Fresno Blossom Trail as well, and lots of oranges, lemon, strawberries, etc.  Pretty much every time we drive anywhere around here, we go through some fruit farms.  Our drive to Kings Canyon took us through a very big area.  Kings Canyon is north of Sequoia National Park, so you can get there from Sequoia, or you can drive north before you hit the mountains, then go up and arrive from there, which is what we did.  One we got close to the mountains and started going up, it was a much easier drive up than at Sequoia.  There’s a long ramp up to get to the 7-8 thousand feet, so it’s a lot smoother and not full of super tight turns.  Much easier.  The road was not very full either, so it was easy to get there.  The views built up little by little, and the weather changed as well.  Before we hit the mountains, we had a bit of rain, and it looked overcast. Then as we got higher, we had some rain, and the higher we went the rain got thicker, until it turned to snow as we arrived at the park gates.  It had not been snowing for too long when we arrived, and while they were requiring chains to be with you, all the park ranger asked was that we put the truck in 4×4, which I did at the pull out right past the ranger station.  Oh, and we used our National Parks Annual Pass again, best $80 investment ever!

Most of the roads at Kings Canyon are closed due to it being winter, so we didn’t have a ton of options, but we could get to the General Grant Tree trail, so we went that way.  The snow was falling hard and fast, and it was those big flakes, that stick to everything.  It is super pretty to see that type of snow fall.  There were not a lot of other people at the park at this point, and the few that were had SUVs, Trucks, or cars with chains.  We made a stop at a visitor center so everyone could use the restroom.  On the way out of the restroom, Bella was running towards the car and slipped.  There was some ice under the snow, and she fell and hit her butt on the concrete.  Ouch… She was crying right away, saying she wanted to go home.  I picked her up, wiped her pants from snow and walked with her to the car, calming her down and helping her.  And as we got in the car and kept driving, she got better.  Snow was piling up on trees and on the ground quickly.  To get to the General Grant Trail, you go off of the main road and down a side road, all downhill, and at the bottom of the hill there’s a parking lot with access to the small trail right there.  There are giant trees right by the parking lot, and it was amazing just there.  There are four giant trees right next to each other in front of where we parked.  Quite amazing.

We got out towards the trail, and it was snowing hard, it all looked amazing and felt magical to be in this forrest, surround by giant trees, with this big snow fall.  The girls were excited to be out in the snow and were all about playing with snow, throwing snowballs, and making some snow men.  After we enjoyed the views of the giant trees by the parking area, we started walking on the trail.  Right away, there is a tree that has fallen over 100 years ago, and the inside is hollow, so it is “open” to go in.  That was quite a cool experience.  The tree was massive, and we were very comfortably walking inside it, with room for a lot more people.    It was mind blowing to feel how big that tree was inside, and people could easily live there :).  We enjoyed some time there, the girls built some mini snow men, and we kept going.  The girls were making snowballs pretty much the entire time. 

Soon, we arrived at the General Grant Tree, which is said to the America’s Xmas tree.  It is a monster!  And it is super pretty, with the top being massive and with lots of big branches.  Watching that with all the snow fall was awesome.   There’s a side of the tree that has a fire scar, looks like it burned pretty good, but that’s what the bark on those trees is for, and the bark was burned but not the main part of the tree, so it is there standing tall and healthy.  It’s just surreal to be looking at how massive the trees are, there are no words or even pictures or videos that will give you a real feel for it, aside from being there, staring at it.  What an amazing feeling. 

We continued walking past the General Grant Tree, and the girls wanted to make a bigger snowman, so we found a little area we could stay and not many people would walk by, and Carol helped them build one.  They each rolled snow into a ball as we walked there, and used the three balls as the body of the snow man.  That was fun, and they loved building the snowman.  It was a great time to be there, walking around with all that snow fall, and just enjoying the giant trees.  We tried to really look at each giant tree, paying attention to all the details, their size, how the branches were, etc… just amazing.  We finished our walk, and headed to the truck.

From there, we really didn’t have a ton of places to go as most roads were closed, so we decided we’d try to drive as much as we could towards a lake, and go from there.  We drove maybe 20 minutes, and a dense fog replaced most of the snowfall, so we decided to just stop the truck at a pull out and have lunch.  We had turkey sandwiches and other snacks, it was great.  Then we turned around and started our drive back out.  There was a lot more snow on the ground at that point, and the truck did awesome in 4×4, no issues with traction, or stopping.  The All Terrain Tires do great too.  More fog and more snow means lower speeds… we took our time getting out, and just enjoyed all the amazing views. 

Once we were out of the park, maybe a mile down, the weather started changing below the top of the mountain.  Pretty much where the snow started, the Rangers had closed the road up and were screening people for proper tires, chains or 4×4.  I pulled over at a turnout to put the truck back in 2 wheel drive as we had passed the snow. At that point, the fog was behind us as well.  Little by little we were out of the overcast area, and could see amazing views of the valley and mountains from up there.  wow… Just amazing to see how the clouds and all the snow were exactly on top of the peak of the mountains, and how the valley had some sun and clear skies.  We very much enjoyed the views from our drive down the mountain as well.

As we drove back, I had setup the GPS to go through the Fresno Blossom Trail proper, so we drove through that area.  It’s pretty cool, and you’re in the middle of all the fruit trees.  And from there, we drove to downtown Visalia, to make a stop at Sequoia Brewing Company.

Sequoia Brewing Company was a nice stop.  We always have a great time when we stop at breweries.  Carol and I had 2 beers each, and brought some home for later.  Bella had their root beer, and Bia had lemonade and sprite mixed, it’s one of her favorites.  We had a great time chatting, and doing magic tricks, and jokes and laughing.  The place actually had indoor seating, which was surprising.  They had each table separated from the next with a tall plexiglass, and all the servers had masks.  I’m sure they were going against the stay at home orders here, but looked like they were playing things safe (or as safe as they could while staying open).  The place is a restaurant too, we didn’t have any food but the menu looked good.  The beers were very good.  After our two beers, we drove back home.

The plan for the night was to clean up, put the Christmas decoration away, and then watch some TV.  It’s supposed to rain most of the day tomorrow, so we don’t have any adventure plans and will just work on getting things caught up.  I’ll try to get the posts writing caught up, Carol will do laundry, and we’ll also try to get some things we don’t use ready to be donated, or maybe sent home.  The sky was clear when we were back, and the moon was out and shining super bright.  I ended up taking 5 garbage bags to the dump, including a bunch with boxes from Xmas gifts.

We actually had a good time putting the decorations away, Carol was able to make most of it fit in one box, and we have very few things that were not in the box.  Kind of feels good to have less things out, gives us room back, at least feels like it does.  With the trailer cleaned up, we got everyone to shower and get ready for bed, then turned the TV on and watched some TV.  And that was it for today.

It was a really nice day visiting Kings Canyon and the General Grant Tree, under snow.

Leave a Reply