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Sequoia/Kings Canyon Trip

Day 1 of 4

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Friday, May 28th
Drive to Cedar Grove

Jean and I left the Bay Area around 2pm, and started to do battle with the Memorial Day weekend outgoing traffic. For the most part, it wasn't bad, though it was slow going as usual near Gilroy on 101. We passed through the Diablo Range on Highway 152, headed south on 99 to Fresno, and then continued on Kings Canyon Road across the San Joaquin Valley. Miles and miles of flat farmland including grapes and orange trees gave way to the Sierra foothills. Slowly we climbed, winding our way past golden hills dotted with oak trees.

We entered the park and continued on toward Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon. We made a brief stop at the Grant Grove visitor center, then continued down into the canyon. People say that half the fun of Cedar Grove is the drive there. While I might not go that far, the drive definitely does not disappoint. As you wind your way down into the canyon, the ooh- and ah-factor increases to the point where you have to stop at a turnoff and soak in the view. It was late afternoon by this time, and the sun was shining on beautiful snow-capped granite peaks to the east. After a relatively boring drive through flat lands and small hills, the peaks are an amazing sight.

View descending Kings Canyon Road

But that's not all. After passing the Kings Canyon Lodge, you drive through a canyon with steep granite walls all around. There, near Horseshoe Bend Overlook (which we would stop at on the drive back), you are just a few miles upstream from the deepest canyon in North America. Yes, deeper than the Grand Canyon -- 8200 feet from the Kings River up to Spanish Mountain.

From there, the road snakes its way alongside the South Fork of the Kings River to Cedar Lodge. We drove through a couple relatively full campgrounds before settling on a site at Moraine campground(4600 feet elevation). By this time it was 7:30pm. Jean started setting up the tent while I ran back and forth to the camp entrance to pay the $14 camping fee. Note: make sure you have exact change (you leave the money in an envelope one day at a time, not all at once).

As we ate dinner in the growing darkness, we listened to the sound of the Kings River rushing by behind the trees. The temperature was pleasant, and mosquitoes were not a major problem. While the campground is large (120 sites), it is fairly spread out and we didn't hear most of our neighbors, save for the boys across from us who talked into the night (30-somethings with big SUVs playing CD's from their cars).

We slept with the rainfly off the tent. It was incredibly bright outside; a full moon bore down on our tent. But the temperature was bearable and soon we were asleep...


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