What else was worth it the next day? Yosemite!
I’d love to spend time talking about what I saw but my words and the pictures do it absolutely no justice. My phone was mad dark. It’s just nature at its finest! Makes me wonder if the world was always so beautiful, how the hell did we get where we are now. I was humbled by creation and felt how small I was in a good way! All we did was drive through via Tioga Road and stopped to see more or take pictures (which after awhile felt ridiculous because our phone cameras just couldn’t capture it; Redd even said it felt disrespectful). I can’t imagine going through the whole park! I’ll be back to do it as soon as I can though.
What I’m not too sure about experiencing again was hail. I thought it was rain until I heard the drops get louder. Then came the little ice balls which was fine at first, interesting… but then it came down so hard we pulled over twice. I got scared. I won’t deny it. I thought about if it’d damage the car, if we’d get stuck, people stuck on trails, or if any accidents would happen. All that occurred were icy roads and it definitely got colder. When we pulled up to Lake Tenaya after, the hailstorm was a distant memory. What a breathtaking body of water!
Camping in Yosemite was not going to happen that night. Folks, if you’re going to go to a national park, don’t pick peak season unless you have a reservation! Again we ended up in a motel after driving down to a town called Bishop. Motels are great but the price can really shift your budget. And without a lot of signal or prior research, finding a good spot when you’re tired can shift the mood.
Upon happy accident, we found the home of the original shepherd’s bread in Bishop called Erick Schat’s Bakkery. We had pretty much the best veggie sandwich we ever had. Usually veggie sandwiches mask the lack of meat with cheese and overdoes the sauce (which is saying a lot considering I am a supporter of sauce smothering almost everything I eat). This was a perfect balance with just a slice of gouda and a little mayo and spicy mustard. The bread was cloud soft! I recommend trying their shepherd’s bread.
It was worth it going the way we did through Yosemite, but when you take the East from there to Sequoia, your drive time doubles. Without data, it was hard to tell our drive would become 6 hours ahead of time. #noregrets ’cause we were already there. We planned to camp at Lake Isabella which was halfway there, but we got tired of not being able to start the day off without 3+ hours of driving. All the long morning hikes we dreamt of were far away with just 2 days left of the trip. We decided to finish up almost 4 hours of driving to Sequoia. We arrived about 10 pm and couldn’t get in the park due to construction. We knew it would happen at some point that we’d need to sleep in the car. We found a spot near a river and slept in the front seats. It rained a little but overall not too bad.
We were told the park opened at 5am. We woke at 4:57am funnily enough and began to drive. It was too dark to see much and we didn’t want to miss anything. We pulled over to let some morning in before continuing on. We stopped at a few times to check out the General Sherman (the biggest, not tallest or widest, tree in the world) and other sequoias. The story of this forest is one to look up. Mostly we were focused on finding a campsite before we went to see anything. And we did.
We visited the Giant Forest Museum which was okay. We followed a couple of great trails and saw plenty of big Sequoias as well as the ones they’ve planted. We visited Crescent Meadows expecting black bears and didn’t see any sadly. They’re apparently more scared of us; of course I wanted to take a chance to see one up close with that being the case. We went to Tunnel Log, which was underwhelming because it was small.
Then there was Mono Rock. I am not a heights person. I had to self motivate myself up those 6725 feet of stairs. It was a tough walk up, but I barely registered this because my knees were seized by fear. It was 1000% terrifying but it’s beauty was matched by that fear ten times over. Going down was easier, but it was easier to not look down going up. We ended the night with food from the local market and a Netflix comedy download.
And finally our last day, really our last morning. We had a warm 3 minute shower for $1 and enjoyed an avocado sandwich. Originally we wanted to see the Redwoods, believe it or not. We were told sequoias and redwoods were very similar, so we changed up or trip so we could see and do more by opting out the redwoods for sequoias. We don’t regret it especially because we got to see Yosemite! There were ample trees in sequoia to fulfill the desire for seeing tall, wide, and big trees.
All this to say our final morning was to be spent seeing the Redwood Mountain Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. As it turned out, this grove was filled with both, not just sequoias. We didn’t stay on the trail too long because it was mostly sequoias and we’ve seen plenty! The main difference, from my point of view, is the skin of the trees. In the second and third picture above are both (redwood on the right side). Sequoias have a thick, flaky (almost dry like) skin. If you knock it with your knuckles, it’s soft. Redwoods are a darker red and resemble fish scales or really dry, flaky dark skin. Rap on that with your knuckles and it’ll definitely hurt. The pamphlets say redwoods are taller. It’s hard to tell when everything is so tall! The other thing I noticed is the base of sequioa trunks can get very big and often its outer skin is burned (apparently they burn them on purpose to release seeds was it?) and exposes the thicker and harder wood within. Underwhelming ending but amazing adventure all together!
Overall, this was my first personally led roadtrip and first with a partner, too! It wasn’t a lot of planning going in, but it was manageable to adjust. Next time we plan to plan to optimize the time in order to see and do more. Knowing where you will sleep, where to get the food you want to eat, and what you want to do and the best route to take (being responsible with getting gas and at a good price) to optimize your time is essential. I didn’t see a lot of melanated people and I could count how many looked like me on one hand. I/we got the occasional curious looks for standing out aka existing. Otherwise, wonderful roadtrip. Excited for our next adventures on the road!