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2001 Winter Sequoia Trip

Day 1 of 3

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Saturday, December 22nd
Drive to Wuksachi Lodge

Jean and I left a rainy Bay Area at 8:30am. After driving to Fresno and then taking Highway 180 toward Sequoia / Kings Canyon, I realized I'd forgotten to call to get current road conditions. Luckily, I still had reception with my cell phone and called from the car (Jean was driving). It's a good thing I did, because I found out that the road between Sequoia and Kings Canyon was closed due to snow. So we couldn't get to Wuksachi Lodge from Highway 180.

We took a detour, taking Highway 63 and a few other roads before getting onto 198, the south entrance to Sequoia. We'd never been to this entrance before. It's only about 1700 feet elevation -- the Sierra foothills, clear of snow. We stopped at the visitor's center just inside the park, where the rangers were very helpful in discussing snow-shoeing and x-country ski options.

Continuing up the very winding road, we began to see small patches of snow on the roadside. Eventually we reached a checkpoint where people were putting chains on their cars. A ranger stopped us and asked us if we had 4-wheel drive. I said yes, but that wasn't good enough for him - "Show me." I pointed to the control on my dash and he let us go through. It's so nice not having to deal with chains!

The drive through the park was incredible. A recent snow had left a small later of white stuff on the ground, making it impossible to see the pavement. Instead, we went along a white road with banks of snow on either side, snow-covered branches on towering sequoias surrounding us. I'd never seen sequoia trees in winter before, and this was quite a treat. It was magical.

We made a short stop at General Sherman just to stretch our legs after a long drive. While we walked toward the largest living thing in the world, three little girls ran over to a nearby snow-covered sequoia and made vertical snow angels around the tree. You had to be there -- it was a funny sight.

We continued on up the road to Wuksachi Lodge, where we were staying for the next two nights. There isn't much choice for staying in the park -- there's the lodge (expensive), or camping out in the cold (it's free!). The lodge has a nice feel to it. Unfortunately, the dining and living quarters are separated by a short walk out in the cold. Not too bad unless there's a blizzard. The rooms are nice but missing a TV (bring something to read!). The main lodge houses the dining room, gift shop, and not one but two large Christmas trees. They also have board games so you can hang out by the fire and play. Oh, the food is pretty good, too.

Christmas tree in the dining room

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