The original plan was for us to drive out of the national park late in the day yesterday, instead we opted to grab a night at Kings Canyon Lodge which had a free room – on a holiday weekend! We’ll have a few more hours in the midst of all this spectacular beauty although we’ll get home later, too, of course. We were gone arrived at Hume Lake just at sunrise, when a breeze blew through and disturbed the water’s glassy surface. Ducks were beginning to stir and a light fog was lifting off the lake– a perfect sunrise moment. But we had little time to linger.
We do decide to take time to enjoy the sights at the General Sherman trail after all. Eight years ago was our last visit to this corner of Sequoia National Park and being right here in the middle of the park it would have been a shame to skip a return walk through the woods on our way south. Everything is different, well the trees are all the same but the parking lot has moved and the trail is altogether new. The next thing that strikes us is the evidence that yesterday was a major holiday that brought out the worst of people. Trash is everywhere. Paper, wrappers, bottle caps, pieces of plastic, and toilet paper. That’s right, TP. Who is it that thinks about bringing toilet paper out on the trail, squats next to a giant sequoia to take a pee and then leaves her wad of paper right there at the foot of the tree? Good thing there is all this beauty around us competing for our attention.
Something these photos have trouble conveying is the size of the trees. With Caroline standing in the trunk it’s easier to get the idea of the enormous footprint these giants have imprinted on the hillside. Besides the General Sherman tree at the beginning of the trail, nothing looks familiar. Had there been a billion less mosquitos maybe we could have walked slower, allowing us to remember a few familiar locations, instead we hoofed it. The Congress and the House parts of the grove were the only other trees that stoked our memories.
As we are leaving the trail, everyone else is joining it. Less than two hours to cover the two-and-a-half-miles, a land speed record for the snail hikers.,Although, I’m telling you, it was the motivation brought on by the angry hordes of mosquitos. Before leaving the park through the south exit we have to endure a partial road closure that is regulated by a light, a long painful red light that takes forever to turn green. Eventually though we are quickly descending the mountain to rejoin urban America. Oh, the misery of forcing ourselves back into reality.
Most of the drive home is through desert. From out in the Mojave east to that infamous hotspot Needles, California we cruise along at ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Here comes Ludlow and Dairy Queen, yummers, a chocolate malt sounds good right about now. Off the freeway and OMG there are ninety-five cars and three hundred other ice cream hungry travelers here. We don’t even get below fifteen miles per hour as we turn around and are right back on the I-40. At the last possible second I pull off in Yucca, Arizona to photograph a town that has all but disappeared. A defunct neon sign is all that remains of the motel that is no longer to be found.