Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Central California

Okay, now that I'm “caught up” with posts from before the Jamboree we'll get to the more recent stuff though now I'm even further behind because of the lack of internet access. (Rant: it's extremely frustrating when a place – any place – says they have wifi available but it doesn't work! Yeah, they have it, you just can't use it! Sigh.) Due to where I've been, I don't think that I would have had internet access even if I had an “air card” or some other techno thingy.

Anyway, back on June 15th I left the coast near Ventura and made my way north and east to central California. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that it was cool on the coast but it was hot once you got a few miles inland. A short stop in Maricopa left me drenched in sweat and the van was hotter than an oven after just 10 minutes of it sitting with the windows closed. Dry heat or not, it was still HOT.

That night I stopped at Kern River State Park just west of Bakersfield. In addition to the river, there was a lake in the park also, whose name I don't recall and didn't write down. The campground was huge. But it was empty except for one site, which had several adults and a bunch of kids of all ages. I selected a site along the river about in the middle of the campground a little ways from the occupied site. There were several cars that drove through the campground later in the evening but none of them stopped for the night.

I thought it was a little strange that with the heat there weren't more people at the campground taking advantage of the river and the lake. However, there were several groups of “tubers” that floated by. The river was high and the current was fast. The other strange thing was that no one ever came around to collect the camping fee and there was no self-serve pay station.

It was a pretty park, well maintained and clean and I didn't have any “bad vibes” about the place. Large trees provided plenty of shade from the hot sun and there was a nice breeze. All in all it was very pleasant.

The rather idyllic view across the river from my campsite.

The next morning I was up early and on my way by eight o'clock, going northeast on California 178. And what a beautiful drive it is! Following the Kern River to Lake Isabella the highway twists and turns, winding its way through the narrow Kern Valley with the river on the left and the mountain walls hugging the highway on the right.

Beyond Lake Isabella, Mountain Road 99 takes you up into Giant Sequoia National Monument. Now, why the government did this, I don't know, but it probably has something to do with how the land is used by the different agencies. We have Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest. Then you have to drive 100 miles or more west, then north, then back east to get to Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest (again), Kings Canyon National Park, Giant Sequoia National Monument (again), Sequoia National Forest (a third time), and finally, to Kings Canyon National Park (again). The latter “string” of Parks, Monuments and Forests are all connected, starting and stopping seemingly at a whim. It's very confusing! But it is an amazing and beautiful area of the country.

All of the rivers and streams in that area are full to brimming, flowing swiftly. There were quite a few waterfalls as well, many with several cascades, such as this one at South Creek Falls on Mountain Road 99 in the Sequoia National Forest.

A little further down the road, in Giant Sequoia National Monument, was the Trail of 100 Giants, which was a paved trail about a mile long that wound its way up, down, and through a forest of (what else?) very large Sequoia trees. It has been 30+ years since my last encounter with these magnificent things and I was impressed all over again.

There is no way that you can capture their immensity in a photograph. Of course, that didn't stop me from taking pictures!

At one time, these were three individual trees. I found it interesting that Sequoias gain their full height in the first 300 years at which time they aren't all that big around. As the years pass, they (like most of us humans) get bigger around. And, if they are growing close to others, they could, as these have done, join together. The boy standing between the two trees on the left is about four feet tall.

One of the things that surprised me regarding these trees is that the bark (or outer layer) is spongy. It gives when pressed upon. This tree has a portion of the outer bark layer missing, but it was still alive and growing.

2 comments:

  1. I hope to get back to California someday. I've been to Muir Woods but I think the trees there are different somehow. Big is big and they were amazing. Glad you found some relief from the heat!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved vacations in the Big Trees as a child because it was so much cooler than the Southwest. How could you leave?

    ReplyDelete

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