(All photos for this entry are posted here)
Sept 5, 2005 – From Reno we hit Sacramento, then Anna and I booked it down the 99 to get to Kings Highway and Sequoia National Park. We stopped along the way in Stockton for some caffeine and popped into Fresno to check out the underground gardens, but they weren’t open. Growth in both cities has been huge. It seems like they are really trying to get the downtown going in Stockton with some new development along the river. Stockton is a relatively old city in California time scale as it was an excellent shipping port on the delta, and supported the gold rush. This age means that it has some great old buildings downtown. I hope they can manage to keep them as they grow.
Fueled up, we managed to hit the Kings Highway in the early afternoon. We took the General’s Highway (198) and looped through the parks. It was a bit sad that we didn’t have the time to get out and do a bunch of hiking, but the drive was amazing. Windows down, the car was filled with redwood & pine and the dry scent of fall. Even when you ignored the giants, the granite rocks strewn through the trees made for a dramatic scene.
We did the typical tourist things – drove through the tunnel log, climbed Moro Rock (fantastic trail and view), and checked out the biggest of them all, General Sherman. We also managed to get a little bit off the beaten path and explore a small river along the road. It was fairly low, but the water had smoothed the rock faces along the bank and carved some great little pools.
I really enjoyed the parks. They have a distinctly nostalgic, golden-age feel about them. They offer unprecedented road access to an amazing landscape, and cement trails with handrails up to amazing viewpoints. These things would never be done in this day and age, as damage to nature would be the primary concern. In fact, they are ripping out much of the old parking lots and roads that are too close to the giants. It is a common conflict for parks these days, balancing access with preservation. For the sequoias, they seem to be on their way to getting the best of both worlds.