The sun has just risen up and we are well sweated already, but we knew this since we pitched our tent yesterday in the shadow with the last rays of the sun, which means in the full sun first morning. We quickly clean up the tent and the rest of our gear, have a short breakfast and then we are ready to go: Sequoia National Park is waiting for us today!
We have thought about it yesterday night, before getting asleep: it would be amazing to drive through the Death Valley and why not to the Grand Canyon too, but it would be a long drive and we would not fully enjoy the amazing landscapes. We got to come back sooner or later.
We don’t lose our time chatting and immediately hit the road, choosing for the fastest one, the Route 41. A light throath pain compell us to stop to buy some medicines and then we cannot say no to a couple stop in the wineyards. But we can’t wait to see some green on the horizon and immediately leave again, bounded right in the middle of the desert.
The road is just stunning, really wonderful. Once we get over Visalia town and until we reach Sequoia National Park boundary, we are really driving in the desert. Then, little by little, we begin driving uphill but the heat never really leave us.
In the end, we are driving through the hills at first and then always closer to the mountains. The temperature drops a little bit, but it’s hot anyway. Soon the road gets windy, then the trees finally come.
At a certain point, the road get closer and then run along a rivers which flows below, in a little canyon. The water seem so cool and we are boiling. The idea naturally flips in our mind and we just have to find the right place, a nice and quiet rock pool where the water is not flowing fast. We decide to stop and have a shooting dive, so get out of the car with just a towel and our swimsuits already on.
It’s such a relief, even if the water is sligthly too cold, probably coming straight from some icefield. With our greatest surprise, we find a guy standing on the side of the pool, who is intently sifting throgh the sand, searching for some gold. We would have never thought about this, that people would still search gold the old fashion way. We wish him good luck with his search and in the time we climb to the car, we are dry already.
We ask for some information in one of the many little ranger huts and they told us we will have no problem to find a campground further on. So we decide to have some other stops before reaching our final place for tonight, while we drive, totally ravished, through the trees which are getting taller and taller, so tall we almost cannot see the top when we pass close to them.
The Generals Highway which takes the name from the two biggest sequoia, respectively call General Sherman and General Grant, is totally amazing and we do enjoy every single inch of it!
The first stop is at the Moro Rock, we just drive a little detour to get to this place which seem is overlooking the whole valley. Unfortunately it quite late in the afternoon and we cannot have a great long hike, so we have to be satisfied by the more than 400 steps we climb to get on top of the Moro Rock.
Just a bit tired, we get to the top, where a cool wind is blowing and a stunning view is opening, it’s just a shame for the smoke blurring everything – we don’t know it yet, but we will get aware of it soon, it will not leave us anymore. It’s the fire season here in California and four years of drought have make it even worse than usual.
We walk our way down. It’s late afternoon and the sun has already begin its journey towards the horizon, still we have a couple hours of daylight to use. So we stop another time for a quick walk, a part of the tons of stops for a photo we really have to take or a little glimpse at a tree taller and more beautiful than the others.
We decide we cannot say not to a quick visit to Generale Sherman, one of the tallest sequoia in the whole world and the one estimated to have the biggest volume. It’s an easy walk into the woods, plunged in the sligthly bitter scent of these trees – the real scent of Nature – and among the reddish and almost spongy trunks, so hard to describe
We spot it from the distance, towering over the other trees and when we get closer, it is so tall and huge that it barely fit in the photo.
Back at the car, the sun has almost reached the end of its journey and we really have not much time to get to the campground and before the darkness to come. So we jump in the car and drive the short distance to the Lodgepole Campground where we still have to pitch our tent and cook something to eat.
Once we get there, we pay with the usual and very easy system: the right amount of money in the envelope with the number of the campsite, we decide to take the n.106 – it’s a very nice one!
We take advantage of the small supermarket to buy some food: wurstel to roast on the fire and some wood to burn – it is strictly forbidden to pick it up from the ground, even the dead one – and then it’s time to pitch our tent and since we have made it so many times lately, we can do it easily even in he dark.
It is a matter of minutes: we pitch the tent, light the fire and put some wurstel to roast. We shut all the lights off, the fire and the stars light everything perfectly and we do not need anything else.
We stay a lot sit near the fire, in the silence, just admiring ravished the wonderful starry sky and a very clear Milky Way. Then, the stars still in our eyes, we get asleep.
But our sleep doesn’t last long; soon a furry friend from the forest, a bear we suppose, wakes us up flipping a rock close to our tent and then comes very close to it, sniffing all around. We can hear it breathing, just a thin layer of cloth divide us. Then it goes away, in the silence as it has come. We are totally thankful for the precious advice we have strictly followed, to have anything but ourself, our clothes and sleeping bags inside the tent, who know if whatever else could have attract the powerful smell of the bear.
A little bit scared but very tired, in the end we fall asleep, dreaming about sequoias and starry skies.