May 1 - 7, 2013:
It was a beautiful ride from Mojave up over the Techacapi Pass, then downhill from the high desert into the Bakersfield valley and the endless green vegetable fields and fruit orchards. Twinkles kept saying, I never knew California looked like this ? It was all flat farm country until we went onto Rt. 198 east, then we could see the mountains in the distance. We arrived at Three Rivers Hideaway about 2 PM , a nice quiet campground with mountain views and river frontage just east of the town of Three Rivers. I feel like a time traveler right now, it's so different here, green grass, big trees, birds, no wind, no blowing sand, flowing rivers, totally different vegetation. We are staying here for a week to explore the southern portion of Sequoia National Park. Three Rivers gets its name from the junction of the Kaweah River, the North Fork of the Kaweah and the East Fork of the Kaweah. The river is wild at this time of year and lots of white water enthusiasts around.
Thursday we rode into Sequoia Park and up the Generals Highway to the "Giants Grove". The road gains about 6,000 feet of elevation over about 18 miles of tight narrow curves and switchbacks, it's a real workout ! The Giants Grove was a 1 + mile loop trail that was great, the Sequoia trees are incredibly huge, almost beyond comprehension. We drove further north on Generals Highway to the General Sherman Grove where the largest trees grow, home of the General Sherman tree, the world's largest tree in volume. We walked several trails there, then the long ride back down the mountain, what a day !
Friday it was breakfast across the street at "We Three Bakery and Restaurant" mainly to check out their sign that claimed free high speed WiFi, unlike the free WiFi (useless) at our campground, it really worked as advertised and also had OK food and was a friendly pleasant place besides. Then a stop at the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce with an excellent small museum and a very pleasant volunteer who was most interested in our RV lifestyle.
We were sort of undecided on where to go in the Park, some areas are not yet open and it's a long hard drive to get into the giant Trees area. We ended up, by chance, having a very nice day in the foothills not far from the Park visitors Center. First a stop at the classic Indian Park entrance sign to take a photo. There we noticed a beautiful short trail which lead down to the Kaweah River. On the way we ran into a park volunteer picking up trash much to Twinkles delight.
The balance of the day went the same way, one beautiful surprise after another, all special places that you don't find in the brochures. I sometimes think the Park service doesn't want these places to be found, you need to get off track a bit to find them, away from the tourist trails, there are no signs.
We then went to the Potwisha Campgrond area which was the Potwisha Indian Village site. Everywhere you go in this country there were native indians and the local museums in recent years seem to be doing an amazing job of preserving some of the native culture and artifacts. It was another trail to the River, where we again ran into the trash pickup volunteer again. At the river there was a bridge across to huge rocks and a beautiful little sandy beach. The water in the Kaweah River is flowing very fast, lots of white water from the snow melt in the mountains above. We couldn't help but remove our shoes and wade into the crystal clear water, a few inches, it was so cold, foot numbing, but refreshing. The wild flowers are blooming all along the trail, the best we have ever seen yet.
Then back to the truck for a ride to the Hospital Rock picnic area. As we were leaving a number of Park Police vehicles flew down the road in front of us with lights flashing. A mile or so down the road, the police had the road blocked and officers were out of their cars behind open car doors with rifles aimed at something ahead out of our sight. It turns out they were making an arrest of someone in a car, who must have been resisting or wanted for something serious, it was not something you would expect to see in a National Park. After about a 20 minute delay, the police action ended and we made it to Hospital Rock.
Hospital Rock was the Potwisha Indian seat of government and gathering place. We found a trail there that turned into a dirt road that went uphill far above the middle fork of the Kaweah River, the views were fantastic and the hillsides were carpeted in all kinds of wildflowers. The River far below was wild, huge rapids, and waterfalls. On the way back to camp we stopped at another river view, the "River View Bar and Restaurant" in Three Rivers for a couple of beers and some food at the outside patio overlooking the river, Yesterday it was all the big trees, today it was more about the river. Another great day !
On Saturday night, I went to the "Three Rivers Music Festival" held at the Lions Club Rodeo grounds. I didn't have high expectations for the event because nothing else here has exactly lived up to the hype. As a result, I didn't go until 6 PM and then I was sorry I didn't go earlier as it was great ! The Lions Club facility was perfect, nice stage, good food, lots of beer, fun party crowd, great bands, good sound. This area has it's share of old hippies and their young off-spring and they were in attendance, the music was rocked up indie bluegrass with lots of instruments, 12 different bands played during the event.
Sunday I went for a ride out to the town of Exeter (beautiful old town) to check out their mural project, then to the town of Woodlake for the Cinco De Maya festival. Woodlake is in the middle of the valley agricultural area and seems to be mostly Hispanic farm workers. This festival was the real deal, totally mexican with music, dancers, real mexican food vendors. It's ironic that in New Jersey where there are hardly any real Mexicans every bar and restaurant is having a Cinco De Maya party while here in this area of California there is very little.
Sunday evening, we went out to the "Rivers Edge" for drinks and dinner. The Rivers Edge is the local hangout spot, they had a band playing on the outside deck next to the river, who were very good, playing a lot of 60-70's music, perfect for old guys like me on their birthday !
Monday morning was cool and cloudy (something new), but we decided to go back into the Park for some hiking. The high peaks were all in the clouds as we drove up and the temperature was dropping rapidly. We took the road towards Cresent Meadow, then a side road to the Moro Rock trailhead. It was 40 degrees and almost raining when we parked at Moro Rock and we didn't even have jackets, but we did the 300 steps to the top regardless, hard core all the way ! The weather then turned worse, it dropped to 38 degrees and started to rain steadily, with a little snow andy ice mixed in. As a result, we did not do the Cresent Trail hike, instead we drove back down out of the clouds to a lower elevation and parked at the Hospital Rock area. The rain stopped, the temperature climbed to about 60, so we then hiked into the Buckeye Flat campground and took a trail along the river that had great wildflowers, river views, rapids and waterfalls. It was certainly a weird weather day, thunder in the evening, then rain off and on throughout the night.
Tuesday it rained lightly off and on all day, first time we have seen this since about last August. That made for a day to do inside items. The plan is to move tomorrow further north to the Pine Flat Reservoir, an Army Corp of Engineering Dam site near Piedra, CA close to the Kings Canyon entrance to Sequoia National Park.
Twinkles and Slick
|Classic Sequoia Park entrance sign|
|All that's left of the Utopian townsite outside of Sequoia Park|
|This is what we came to see|
|Everyone gets a photo in front of the General Sherman Tree|
|Nice log tunnel|
|The President Tree|
|The Kaweah River|
|Beautiful river view|
|Twinkles on the beach|
|Cinca De Maya festival in Woodlake|
|AA chapter in Woodlake|
|Moro Rock in the clouds|
|Stairway to top of Moro Rock|
|View from top of Moro Rock|
|Nice waterfall on Kaweah River|
|Sequoia Trees in the cold mist|
|My birthday breakfast pancakes|
|Orange groves near Woodlake, CA|