Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Top 5 US National Parks - #4 Sequoia National Park

I really should not have made this a top 5 list. I keep thinking of additional national parks that I would like to include. Also, there are some parks, like Yosemite, that I haven't taken pictures in for a very long time but still rank up there as possible favorites. However, I do have pictures from the trip Allyson and I recently (well, two years ago now) took to Yosemite's neighbor, Sequoia National Park. It was a short weekend trip, so we planned on just camping and doing some day hikes. We got there on Friday night, and all the campgrounds were full. They directed us to a road way north of the entrance (I think it was the road you take to Big Meadows campground, but I can't be sure) where you can just pull over and camp. Because we got there so late and it was pitch black, we spent the first night just sleeping in the back of my S10 pickup. The second night we got the same "site" and pitched our tent. If you are cool without bathrooms, I highly recommend figuring out where this is. No crowds and super quiet. 

On Saturday, we hiked the 14 mile round trip hike to the top of Alta Peak (elevation 11, 204 ft). The thing I remember most about this hike was the ever-changing weather. I'm currently reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and am reminded of the unpredictability of the weather in the Sierras. It can be hot and sunny one minute, and freezing mist the next. That's exactly what we got this day, but it just made it that much more exciting! We could actually watch the storms coming across the mountain range, as you can see from the pictures below. 

I'm going to be honest. This hike wore us out. But those are the days I love the best. When you are so worn out and maybe didn't eat quite enough on the trail, so what do you do? You find the pizza place in the national park, that's what! Stony Creek Lodge has a pizza restaurant with outdoor seating. Perfect after a long day of hiking, and only a few minutes from the spot we were camping. 

Our "campsite"

The next morning, we did the touristy hikes, like the General Sherman Trail and Moro Rock (amazing views of the area we had hiked the day before). Both are worth getting out of your car and taking a walk. Moro Rock is pretty challenging but short, and the trails around General Sherman and the other big trees are easy to moderate with some paved trails. 

On Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Los Angeles via Highway 198 West and stopped for lunch along a rushing river at the Gateway Restaurant & Lodge. Lunch was decent and it was a great place to finish up a wonderful weekend outdoors.

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