Sunday, August 5, 2012

Big Sur and the National Parks

We were flattered the Hearst family wanted to keep us as guests at the castle but the schmoosing was getting tiresome and the road was calling so we continued North to Big Sur. In our heads Big Sur was an unknown gem where we would find hidden beaches and have our choice of campsites; unfortunately everyone else thought the same thing. Big Sur was beautiful and we were able to enjoy an isolated cove and a nice sunset but we were not able to find camping and had to continue North to Monterey... where we slept in the car.

We were both looking forward to visiting Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks on the east side of California. We started by spending a couple days in Kings Canyon known as an alternative to Yosemite since it has similar granite rock canyons without the crowds. During a long hike we came across a group of people all taking pictures in the direction of a creek. When we looked to see what everyone found so exciting we saw a bear with three cubs just 40 feet away! They were not aggressive and seemed preoccupied with getting to the water for some fishing.

The next day we headed South to Sequoia National Park to see what John Muir called "the big trees." At first glance they don't look that big but once you approach one and get close the true size becomes realized. Since it is hard to describe in writing I'll list a few facts to help visualize the sheer size of these trees.

Mature Sequoias average 250 feet in height and live to be over 2500 years old.
Sequoia bark is over two feet thick making them almost completely resistant to fire and infestation.
The base diameter of the General Grant Sequoia is 40.3 feet. That is wider than a three lane highway! If it were cut down there would be enough wood to make 40 five bedroom houses.
The General Sherman tree is considered the largest tree in the world for overall volume. It weighs over four million pounds.

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