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Stop #8 [Sequoia National Forest + Kings Canyon]

WE ARE HERE. And over joyed. Ummm,  an interesting sign to say the least. We drove in toward the end of the night, as the fog settled in and became a little eerie. This was our second campsite we set up at Sequoia. We learned the importance of booking campgrounds at popular national parks at least a year in advance. We booked quite a few months ahead and still, every two nights we stayed somewhere, we had to set up camp at a new site down the way on day #2. This was our second place. A little more central to the grounds. Our first one, we were setting up at night, and we were at the base of a huge rocky mountain where I swear a wild animal was learking in the darkness just watching us ready to eat Floyd when we turned our heads. It was pretty neat hearing all the sounds in the quiet surroundings at night. The night it was supposedly the closest the moon had been to Earth in years. It was so bright, when I tried shooting it, it looked a lot like the sun. This was the darkest I could get it. We didn’t even need a flash light this night. The largest known tree in the, entire, world, people.  The General Sherman Tree. 36.5′ wide at the base, you can see how massive this picture (top right) is just by trying to find the itty bitty people to the left of it. And below, was a giant “foot print” of what the base is actually shaped like. We were very fascinated. Did you know this tree weighs about 6,167 tons? We also felt so bad as we drove across the country, seeing how many forests stood of charred and naked twigs due to forest fires. But we didn’t realize that the Sequoia Trees actually ‘need’ a little bit of fire to reproduce?  See the human in the red to the right of the tree below? I had my Canon 24-70mm wide angle lens, and still couldn’t zoom out or step back far enough to get a truly head to toe image of this giant. There it is again in the distance.  And the top. A tree that had fallen years ago. They usually don’t allow any cutting or even moving of the natural fallen wood, but they did have permission to cut holes for walk ways and even some drives if needed. There were a lot of love notes carved in this bad boy too. What a nerd. I love this man. These signs made me so happy. Buffalo signs, elk signs, moose crossing signs and bear signs. Oh how we miss out on these things in the midwest. I grew up only seeing deer signs. #excitedaboutthelittlethings Another BIG climb to the top of this peak.  Stunning. The man? Or the scenery? Or both? I say both. Standing inside the charred “Chimney Tree.” So this path here, above and right… was the path we were on alone, in the middle of Crecent meadow, where we were just talking away, Jana oblivious to what’s ahead as my eyes are up and down and taking it all in. And then Philip grabs me and it was almost like a yell whisper, “JANA, THERE’S A BEAR!” No exaggeration, we saw our FIRST black bear about 40 feet ahead of us in the meadow along our hiking trail.  (And no Floyd wasn’t with us as he couldn’t be on the trails due to the wildlife. A sheriff explained to us that too many domestic dogs think they’re more tough than they are, so they’d always bark or attack the wildlife, harming both the wildlife and your dog. And most humans would run after their dog to defend it, usually resulting in the death of both the human and the puppy. Sad day. So with respect to wildlife and the natural sounds and circle of life, animals weren’t allowed. Nor were they allowed to be chained to a tree at your campsite or left in the car. We had to get creative by leaving him in the car surrounded by as much of a crowd as we could find to park by so no bears would break in.)

Here’s the absolutely breathtaking meadow we hiked through.  Our first bear sited that was RIGHT in front of us. I remember thinking ‘I really want this picture’ so I slowly stopped in my tracks, lifted my camera, held my breath as my heart was beating out of my chest, took one step up the hill to be a little more hidden behind the greens, and “CRACK”… a stick breaks. This was the bear hearing me behind him for the first time. Eyes looking so cuddly into my eyes. (I’m sure he was thinking I looked like a giant steak to him) But I’m glad I got the shot. Worth the risk I guess. Another check off the bucket list! Jana was REALLY happy. Because the bear kept meandering on down our trail, we obviously didn’t want to take a risk of getting hurt so we waited a bit, a family with their two kids walked up behind us and watched him walk amidst the tall grass. And together, we decided we were in the middle of nowhere, with no protection, so our best bet was to walk across this massive sequoia tree that had fallen across the meadow. It was a short cut and it was quite fun trucking along a natural path. Below is what the tree looked like we climbed down in the meadow. Just look at the size of that trunk. This tree below is called the Buttress Tree. The Tharp Log is below. My uncle Scott wanted a neat image of an outhouse in the mountains. We were on a constant look. This one seemed to be the closest we could find. It was pretty neat inside.

I’m obsessed with this picture below. It just shows all the tree types and textures and colors all in one image. I might end up blowing this up in one of my rooms in my house. Just hangin out. Deer and elk everywhere. Back at the campground below. Kings Canyon, Road Trips, Jana Marie Photography

Through tons more national forests as we head north along Eastern California, to Yosemite National Park.

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