10/23/15 (Friday) in Porterville, CA (Tule Recreation Area – COE)
We chose to get to King’s Canyon via Hwy 65N then Hwy 245N. Never again. Hwy 65 was fine, but Hwy 245N was all very steep, windy 2 lane road. We traveled it averaging 20 mph, in the CAR mind you; not a very picturesque area either. When we left we went via the “Generals Highway” mostly inside Sequoia National Park. That road had far more lovely views with only a portion (Giant Forest) that was similar in the steep/curvy elements of Hwy 245.
This COE park has spacious sites with water and 50 amp service, paved roads with level sites, trees and grass; there are even very efficient, clean bathrooms here. Very little usage in the off season, when school is in session. The big negative: NO cell phone service, no WiFi or Internet via cell phone. We are next to Success Lake (rather low at this time), if you like fishing. The other negative is that it’s further from the National Parks than Visalia. Next time, we’ll stay, as Elks members, at the Elks lodge in Visalia. They have water and 50 amp service on a paved parking lot. No bathrooms, nor sewer, but you can relax at a park across the street and you are about 22 miles closer to the National Parks.
SO it took us a good 2 hours to get to King’s Canyon this morning, then over 3 hours (we made a couple stops for views and restrooms, then gas) to get home.
Because of the “Rough Fire” that started July 31, 2015 and was pretty much out by October 15, 2015 (burning over 150,000 acres just before we got here), the road (Hwy 180) that goes north in to canyon areas was closed. They opened the part of it that goes to Hume Lake just as we were leaving! So there were just a few giant sequoia groves and a visitor center to investigate.
Along the Big Stump Trail
Mark Twain stump. Many trees were logged here in the late 1800’s, but this tree was specifically cut down to send a cross section to New York to show just how huge these trees were. There was another tree, Centennial Tree, that was cut for that same purpose. It’s section was taken apart for the journey and reassembled at Philadelphia. At the museum there the people called it the “California Hoax”, because no tree could grow that large.
Along the trail to the General Grant Tree, the third largest living tree, with the largest known base. It was named after General Ulysses S Grant in 1867 and in 1890 Congress created Grant Grove as the third National Park (after Yellowstone and Sequoia). King’s Canyon and other land areas were added later to make a the new, larger park of King’s Canyon 60 years ago (1955).
The first tree we saw was impressive for another reason: people lived in it! We can walk through it now. Did you know that Sequoia trees resist decay better than others as well as grow larger?
I hadn’t realized that the Sequoia is also part of the National Park Service Symbol, since 3 of the first 4 National Parks protected the giant sequoias.
General Grant Tree, proclaimed the nation’s Christmas Tree by President Eisenhower.
The dead top on old, large Sequoia trees doesn’t mean they’re dying. Fire scars at the base of the tree prevent water and nutrients from reaching the tip of the trunk.
Views on our way home. Note the fire damage.
Surprise!!! There was a black bear (John says a yearling) just off Hwy 198 as we were on our way out of Sequoia National Park.
We met a fun couple, Zsuzsa (“Z”) and Tom, that have been staying here as well, getting to really visit them Saturday. They had to leave Sunday morning for Palm Desert. We’re hoping to meet there, but it will be a couple months before we arrive. She is originally from Hungary, coming here when she was 23 as a nanny, so there were some amazing stories she had to share.