May 11th, 2002
Day 24

Start: Ventura, CA
Finish: Kings Canyon NP, CA


Miles Today: 278
Miles to Date: 1781
Trooper Mileage: 170702

Right now it is 10:30 PM, I am camped out at 6500' in Kings Canyon National Park and it is getting COLD. There is still snow on the ground in places, and lots still on the higher peaks. I am managing to keep most of me warm except for my hands. I brought long underwear, sweaters, coats, even a ski cap (which I am wearing). I know I have some ski gloves somewhere but I wouldn't be able to type with them on.

I left Ventura about 10:30 this morning, bidding farewell to Fred, Kim, Elani, Daniel and David. I headed north the back way, off the interstates, through the upper part of Ventura County, much of which is still pretty much wilderness. As populous as California is, much of it is still amazingly empty.

As the mountains and valleys flowed past my eyes, I came to the realization that I would never be able to remember most of the images I was experiencing. There was just too much. I could not even begin to capture a fraction with the camera. I came to the realization that what I was perceiving should be accepted just for its pleasure in the here and now, to enjoy them in their fleeting immediacy.

I reached Sequoia about 4:00. Only fourcampsites were open, it still being early in the season, and of course the closest two were full. I was told that camping was available at the Azalea site, which was 43 miles away in the Kings Canyon section. In this country 43 miles translates to 2 hours of driving. Along the way I passes Moro Rock, to the right. There is a trail that goes to the top. I hope to hike that tomorrow.

For over half of the 43 mile drive, the road twisted and turned, went up and down, varying in elevation from about 2000 feet near the entrance of the part to over 7000 feet. I was more than a little thankful that I had attended to the clutch issues with the truck.

The sequoia trees themselves seemed to prefer the higher altitudes. One of the more popular attractions is the General Sherman Tree (right picture), believed to be the largest tree (and largest single organism) in the world. There are some that are taller, and some that are wider at the base, but this tree has the largest total volume known. The base is over 35 feet wide at its widest point, it is over 300 feet tall, and if memory serves me correctly, it is estimated that the trunk mass is about 1300 tons.

I arrived at the campsite about 6:00, and found, fortunately, that there were places still available. I still had almost two hours of daylight, so setting up camp was a leisurely process.

Since there are lots of bears in the area, the campsites have large steel boxes with locking doors in which to store your food. The bears have been known to actually tear the windows out of vehicles to get at food inside, so I deferred to the wisdom of the experts and locked away all of my supplies.

Dinner consisted of beef stew, corn, whole wheat bread, grapefruit juice, and of course peanut butter cookies for desert.

In spite of the chill in the air, I kept comfortably warm in my tent and down sleeping bag, and slept soundly.