Sequoia National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are one contiguous unit,
the third largest outside of Alaska


By David Gjestson

Most of us have taken advantage of the best senior citizen deal of a lifetime by buying the $10 Senior Pass (Golden Age Passbook) offered by the National Park Service before the price skyrocked. It enables us free access to National Parks along with a 50% reduction in camping fees that also applies to National Forest lands! That pass saved me and my two hiking buddies (Brad and Mike) $58 in our recent four-day adventure at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks!


Camping and trekking buddies Mike Deasy (L) and Brad Jenkins
joined me for this outing.

Located four hours south of our city of Oakley, California, Sequoia National Park adjoins the equally large Kings Canyon National Park, and together cover 1,353 square miles (third largest park outside of Alaska). The size of this resource including 3,200 lakes and ponds, 2,600 miles of river, more than 800 miles of trails, and containing at least 1,500 vascular plants and 200 animal species! Throw in the worlds oldest living thing which is the largest tree on Earth (General Sherman tree) 274.9 feet tall and measuring 102.6 feet circumference at its base along with the highest mountain outside Alaska (Mount Whitney 14,491 feet), Im taking about a stunning resource!


The General Sherman tree
The massive Sequoia trees barely fits in the picture frame
and have been protected here since 1890.

Even though I had applied for a camping permit six months in advance, I was lucky to snag the last camping spot of the hundreds available! Our campgrounds was Dorst Creek, about 185 camping units spaced out in three separate areas, giving lots of space in between them. However, while our spot was screened pretty well by huge boulders, we were right on top of our two neighbors. When we were unloading our gear about supper time, we could hear babies crying, children yelling, and were aware of a large Latino family sitting at their picnic table. Oh! Oh!


Our camp.

When this 6 4 tatted up man approached us followed by a short, rather obese woman, we braced for turbulence! I about lost my teeth when I saw they were both loaded down with food pans and heard the big man say, Hey! Have you guys had dinner yet? The dishes were packed with thick pieces of chicken, some sort of rice dish, and vegies! They explained that they had all eaten and to eat as much as we wanted. Later, we brought over a bunch of beer to them, and a friendship was assured!


Our tatted up, 6' 4', 250 pound neighbor (Roger) was from LA
with his family and was most amicable!


On the morning of the second day, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast featuring Brads great kitchen. Our first break-in hike was just four miles, but at 7,000 feet in elevation, it was not what youd call easy-peasy!


Brads kitchen: Car camping allows us to literally bring
the kitchen sink (hidden under the center table)!



Brad leads the way from 6,700 feet elevation up and down what Mike calls local ups.



Big tree with Brad - Putting the human species in perspective



Big tree with Dave - Simply awesome!


The third day had us heading to see the oldest living thing on the Planet. The park ran shuttle busses between various places of interest. It made for easy transport, and cut down on the park traffic considerably.


A shuttle took us to another grove of sequoias
that attracted more visitors.



The line of picture takers was too long to wait for our turn,
so take a look at a 2,200-year old tree base!



Even looking up, a photograph simply can't
capture the massive size 275 feet up!



75 groves of sequoias are protected by the park,
all growing above 5,000 feet in elevation.



Grove of trees: Surrounded by awesomeness.


From there we took the shuttle to Morro Rock. This involved a climb up 350 steps to 6,700 feet in elevation for a panoramic view of the mountains within Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.


Going up the stairs - There was a lot of pauses going up the stairs!



Arriving for Ranger talk - Rangers add a lot to any trip



The view - Oh my!


Our last morning was spent eating breakfast, packing up a ton of gear, and saying good bye to our Latino friends.


Mike and Brad enjoy breakfast before we hit the trail in the morning.



Bye neighbors - What a camping bonus these people turned out to be!



On the road - What a nice way to end our trip by stopping in a funky motel (still not open to the public) and getting free coffee along with the owners love Jesus speech!