The Best All Around Destinations Are…
#National Parks #Kings Canyon National Park
Believe it or not, Yosemite is the number one destination, and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks together is number six. All are within a 90-minute drive from my house.
The strange thing is that people from nearby seldom enjoy these wonders. You’ve probably noticed that it’s the same thing where you live. This year several friends wanted to check out the waterfalls due to the El Nino rains California had this winter.
The perfect time to get away from the heat and go to the mountains is July. While it was in the 100s in the valley, it was 75 degrees in the park.
What to Pack for a Mountain Hiking Trip
- A camera or cell phone and a car charger
- A warm but light jacket
- A lunch or at least snacks
- An extra pair of shoes, shirt & pants
- Walking sticks
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks
Three parks form the Mountain Loop. However, you can drive from Sequoia to Kings Canyon without coming back down from the mountains. It’s a grueling drive, though.
Kings Canyon National Park is a gentle drive from either Fresno or Visalia east on Highway 180. The hairpin turns and loops that you encounter on the way to both Yosemite and Sequoia don’t slow down your trip to Kings Canyon.
One advantage of going to Kings Canyon National Park is that fewer people go there making the lines to get in more bearable. If you can’t find a parking place, there are too many people there.
Roaring River Falls
Almost as soon as you enter the park, you reach Roaring Canyon Falls. Step out of the car, take a few steps, and you’re there. At that stop you find benches and tables to sit and picnic.
The restroom was hideous, but at least there was one. Let’s just say bugs like it. If you hike off the beaten path, there’s an innovation that women can carry that would be infinitely more pleasant than this restroom.
This young woman drew a lot of attention. First of all, she’s not fat, she’s pregnant. The water runs icy cold and swiftly, and as you know, rocks under water are not just sharp, they’re slippery. She’s wearing a watch, glasses and a dress, none of which go well with falling. Luckily for her, she made it to the other side. But those of us on the safe side of the river held our breath until she made it. Hopefully, she made it back just as safely.
Many visitors enjoyed a picnic lunch at this first vista. Cool mist wafted over like mister machines in the desert.
You can hike or trails or even on the roads. We did have one adventurous loop. If you hold a camera it’s not likely that you’ll hike quickly. Taking pictures is as essential as swatting flies at a picnic.
More and more people use their phones. Digital cameras may get better clarity than the iPhone, but you must remember to check the settings each time. A point-and-shoot camera takes the judgment of both exposure and focus.
This was a favorite shot.
If you know what it is, then good on ya. But don’t you think it’s pretty?
When you drive to the next stop, get out and you find a 3-mile trail loop. Sometimes you find rangers who add to the facts found on the information boards. One ranger geared up for six minutes of geology facts. You’ll meet him later.
The Loop Starting with the Kings River
Since it is a loop, you can start at either end. Monica suggested that visitors might want to head away from the river and take the more difficult walking first. When you see the end of the walk, maybe you’ll agree.
From a safe perch on the paved pathway, you could find plenty of opportunities to capture pictures of the swollen Kings River. The middle and south forks of the 125-mile long Kings River starts somewhere in the Kings Canyon National Park even though this looks much too fast and large to be the headwater.
As you can see, the parks have two seasons, fire and rain. This tree looked sparse, but still viable after the Rough Fire in August 2015. The lightning-started fire burned 151,623 acres of land, making it the largest fire of 2015 in California, involving up to 3,742 firefighters.
The sun filtered through the trees dazzled the water but left hikers alone to enjoy the walk in cool comfort.
You can see that the wide path that made walking a breeze. We also saw the devastating results of the fire lying on the ground like charred skeletons.
In the backdrop as we looked away from the river, the granite peaks vied for our attention. The river was noisier, closer and got more attention from walkers than the rocky backdrop.
Knotty Problems Ahead
Once in a while, a knotty tumor might stop you dead in your tracks to muse about the anomaly. But you walk on, you may not expect what you would encounter in just a short distance from this point.
They didn’t talk about it, just marched stoically by with their leader. No one talked much. Hmmm..
Walking across the bridge did not hold any danger or inkling of what lay ahead.
Monica stopped for a brief respite. Several travelers snapped pictures of this view.
Zumwalt Meadow was a bit mushy and no one walked out there.
This picture might have worked better in black and white. The color looked as drab as the fortieth day of rain. It could be a postcard shot with more vibrant lighting. But that was how it looked.
Stairway to Heaven
Here is the first hint that the trail was changing. It looked like the end of the trail. Monica is tiny. Ordinary sized people might not fit through the opening in the rocks.
She bravely led the way. No bears.
Eventually, there appeared the stairway that led to heaven. It seemed like it could be a trail in the Holy Land. The rocks were somewhat uneven. If you are klutzy, walking stick over rocks might prevent a twisted ankle and tumble over the edge of the cliff.
At the bottom of the rock ladder, Monica found a shady spot, and then she found something even better.
You’d never expect a beach in the middle of the mountains, but there it was. People swam in it and shade-bathed in the sand. Everyone at the beach had their shoes off. The sand was pebbly, so it didn’t stick too badly when you put your shoes back on.
Within a few minutes, you arrive back where you started. You might be able to compel nn unsmiling ranger helper to give you a five-minute lecture on the geography of the area. Or not.
If you are over 62, you can still buy a lifetime pass. The cost is now $80, but if you visit eight parks, it has paid for itself. If you’re in fourth-grade, there is a special pass for you.
If You’re Longing for Someplace to Go
Consider a staycation near you or visit Tulare County and the three National Parks nearby.
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