Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Finally we come to the reason for a U.S. vacation, the giant trees in Sequioa and Kings Canyon National Park.

Our campsite was to be determined. Most campgrounds in the park are first come first served. The reserveable campgrounds had been fully booked months in advance so those were out.   We wanted to be near a river and not have any fire restrictions. With California being in a four year drought we knew our top choices would be eliminated.  Stony Creek Campground was at 6600 feet so cold enough to need a fire but it is managed by the National Forest not the National Parks. Unfortunately the National Forest campgrounds had banned all camp fires and if there was one thing we knew from Mammoth that at that elevation we wouc want to be huddled around a fire as soon as the sun started to set and the temperatures drop to the 40's. Other campgrounds in Sequioa National Park were not near a river so we finally settled on Sheeps Creek Campground at 3600 feet in the Kings Canyon National Park.  We wouldn't need a fire at that elevation and it was on the river.

The drive is waaaaay down into the bottom of the canyon, reminding me again of the roads in Peru.

Now I am not experienced in the world of  car camping but I can tell you we were not happy with the car camping scene.  You are pretty much surrounded by cars, people and their crap, and RVs.  Some families had so much camping gear that they filled giant SUVs and towed a U Haul.  

It might not look too busy but it was! The first night we got there the kids and I hated it so much, I mean really hated it.  We couldn't wait to leave and kept trying to make plans to go somewhere else as soon as we made the pilgrimage to the big trees.  

Folks were there to have a good time and for many loud music is a part of it.  We had a musical tour of a dozen genres from Motley Crüe metal, Latin techno, southern rock, top 40, bluegrass, and on Saturday night we got to hear an old fashioned Spanish speaking and singing revival complete with fiery sermon.

On a positive note our neighbors did respect the posted quiet hours and the cacophony died down about 9:00.  

Our first full day in the Park we did a hike in Kings Canyon from the waterfall to the meadow, about 2 miles.

The hike itself was pretty easy, nice and level with no elevation change.  But we don't bring as much  water as we needed so everyone's nerves were on edge because we were so dang thirsty.  It made a pleasant 2 mile walk seem to be an eternity.

The meadow was pleasant and abundant with wild flowers.

It was a nice first day but I can tell you that the three of us were still very much hating car camping and our campground.  Luis on the other hand was living a dream and so we had to work hard to keep our mouths shut so we wouldn't crush it.  

The next day we set out for the long drive from Kings Canyon to see the big tree.  After about an hour we arrived at our first stop, the General Grant. 

Big trees for sure and Luis getting happier by the moment. We scrambled through a hollow fallen monarch and soaked up the energy of these giants.

An hour later we arrive at the General Sherman, the world's largest tree.

The park is set up with a shuttle bus that takes you to the park highlights. We parked the car at the top of the Sherman tree Trail and walked down a steep path to the tree. We had to wait in line for a picture.

From the bottom of the Sherman trail A shuttle bus takes you to a meadow where it is common to see bears!  A 2 mile path goes around the edge of the meadow.  With in the first five minutes of walking we saw our first bear.

We just couldn't believe it! We observed for quite a wild then walked on and decided to cross the meadow on a fallen tree.

As you can see the roots of this fallen tree were amazingly enormous.

For whatever reason, these two had more times of helping each other and enjoying each others company and they have had in a long time.

Lucky for us we were treated to a second bear sighting.

The photo is sort of like a big picture but there really is a bear climbing up the root of the tree. It was pretty cool.

The end if a  long day brought us back to the shuttle bus where I was moved to tears at this sign inside the bus.

Something our country really got right was the establishment of the national Park system.  Traveling to many other countries where this is not the case made me really appreciate what our family experience during this trip.

Our third and final day at sheep's Creek Campground was spent a mile or two down the river at a perfectly chosen spot where we spent the entire day.

Since we were situated near a calm spot that led to a small 50 foot miniature rapid section the kids decided to make their own amusement park style log ride.

Again I was treated to an afternoon of watching them work and play together. A rare sight these days indeed. 

They rode the rapids again and again. We sat together at the edge of the river talking and sharing stories. It was a real lifetime channel type of day.

After 4 nights of camping we would be leavings for a 12 hour drive to Flagstaff to see the Grand Canyon.

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