August 24-26, 2018 Leader: Nelson Miller
We had nine vehicles and 13 people for a beautiful trip in the Sequoias. There were Nelson & Ellen Miller, Mignon Slentz, Dave Burdick, Glenn Shaw, Janet & Peter Austin. Bob & Sue Jaussaud, David Hess, Barbie & Larry Tidball, and Stephen Mersman. Thanks to Bob and Sue for doing sweep all weekend, they did a great job. It was a nice relief from the heat of the desert, since we were generally between 5,000 and 7,000 feet and it was actually in the 30’s when we got up in the morning. It was a fun group and we all enjoyed the sequoias. I find being in the big trees so peaceful and relaxing. Larry Tidball brought along a couple of books, Sequoia Groves and The 150 Largest Trees, which added immeasurably to our experience.
We started with a short hike to the Alonzo Stagg tree, which is on private property, and the sign said was the fifth largest sequoia in mass. However, Larry’s book listed it as only the sixth largest. One of Larry’s books also pointed us to the largest backyard tree and “the window tree” in somebody’s front yard as we drove back out through a beautiful subdivision right in the middle of sequoia grove.
As I was concerned about finding a camping area for this large a group, we headed for camp and wound up in Upper Peppermint disbursed camping area. We arrived just after 4:00 p.m.and started right in on Happy Hour. Janet and Peter stayed in a B and B just a couple of miles away, which they reported as interesting, but nice and comfortable. The disbursed camping area had just re-opened after being closed for overuse. The ranger had told me that volunteers had pulled out 7 large dumpsters of trash from this area. That is really sad, but it already had a lot of toilet paper and diapers scattered about. It had signs warning that the area would be permanently closed if the public
did not keep it clean, but apparently to no avail. Maybe the signs needed to be in Spanish too?
Saturday morning, we headed for more sequoia groves, but first stopped at Dome Rock, another short hike. There is a beautiful view from here, but Saturday was pretty smoky so the view was limited. Again, Larry’s books were very informative about the groves. The maps show the Red Hill and Peyrone Groves as accessible, but when we arrived at the turn-offs, the roads were impassable. Too bad since they were listed as having “museum-quality trees,” an interesting description, but tantalizing. Larry has a goal of visiting all the groves, so maybe I can return with him and hike into these groves. It appears both are only a half mile to a mile in, but might entail bushwhacking.
We crossed the corner of the Tule River Indian Reservation, which has parts of several groves, including the Red Hill, Peyrone, and Black Mountain groves. There were some giant trees just as we exited the reservation. We drove on through the Black Mountain Grove, which encompasses over 500 trees extending over 2,500 acres (about 3 square miles). Most of this area was burned last year, so this was an interesting study. A few of the sequoias had been scorched nearly to their tops from adjacent trees, but the sequoias look like they will all survive. Larry’s book led us to the Black Mountain Beauty, which indeed was an incredible tree. This was another short hike since the road ended before we got to the tree. Then back to Upper Peppermint disbursed camping area for Happy Hour again, although different site this time
Sunday morning we headed south and stopped at Noble Young Creek Falls. This was another short, but very steep hike. We owe Alan Wicker a thank you for this, since he got the information about this from a ranger six years ago when we took a trip here last time. We were surprised there was still a reasonable amount of water in these falls. After the falls, we continued south to the Trail of 100 giants.
Luckily, we beat the crowds and so had a nice walk through this grove. There were actually over 120 sequoias greater than 10 feet in diameter and over 700 other sequoias in this grove. This is a great grove, but the beauty of the other groves is that we were virtually the only ones there.
We didn’t make it to the Freeman Grove, which was one of my goals. However, the road into this grove was blocked by downed trees. ~ Nelson