We headed north towards Kings Canyon National Park with the hope of getting a spot in Sheep Creek Campground, which is located in the park.
Sheep Creek Campground had a delayed opening for today, Friday, June 7, as a result of an unusually high winter snowfall. They were behind schedule for cutting down the dead trees, and they had to push the opening to June 29. We were able to find a spot in another park campground, Moraine, which typically only accepts online reservations. They made an exception due to several campground closures in the park. They accepted walk-ins, but just for that day. It was spacious with lots of trees providing shade.
Once the we were all set in Site #81, we took the truck and went to see a popular spot called Grizzly Falls. There was a small parking lot off the main road, and only about 30 steps to the falls.
You are not able to climb up to see the top of the falls. You can get as close as you wish to the bottom, which was where the photo opportunities take place. The closer you get, the wetter you become. We had to wait in a “tourist” line to take our photos, so Scott wandered off to the side of the falls to check out the scenery there.
Directly across the street from Grizzly Falls was the rushing Kings River. We enjoyed listening to the sound of the river, too.
We returned to camp and took a twenty-minute walk through the woods to the Cedar Grove Hotel, which was on the other side of the river from our campsite. The “hotel” looked more like a rugged, old cabin, and it was situated right next to Kings River. Unfortunately, the food was on par with a fast-food restaurant. It did had lounge chairs lined up along the river’s edge, which was a nice touch.
Additionally, there were two pay phones outside of the hotel. Notice the “FREE CAllS” options. I certainly do not recall these options back in the day before cell phones when I recall using a pay phone. LOL
I thought it would be fun to call my daughter collect from the pay phone. (I didn’t really think about the logistics of this call.). She got a call from an unfamiliar number, asking her if she would accept a collect call from “Susan Fisher”. Once she said “yes”, they asked for her credit card number. It was no longer funny. She hung up. I could have easily used MY credit card to call her from the pay phone, but that would have taken away from the fun of calling her collect. You can see in the video how funny I think that I am, until she doesn’t answer the call. I didn’t realize that she had denied it until later.
The next day we hiked about 13 miles round trip along the roaring Kings River to Mist Falls and Lower Paradise Valley.
The first two miles of this hike was a lined, dirt path that ran along the rushing river.
The landscape was not only picturesque with colorful flowers along the way, but the river was roaring down the canyon in a spectacular show. It is pointless to try to have a conversation unless you shout. Listen for yourself.
As we got closer to Lower Paradise Valley, we could no longer hear the sound of rushing water. Instead, we were climbing up switchbacks of rocky steps for about a half hour.
It finally leveled off as we reached the beginning of the camping area (reservations required), and found a nice rock on the water to enjoy a peaceful lunch.
As we turned around and made our way back down, you could see snow capped mountains in the distance. Simply gorgeous!
We also saw several lizards, one Rattlesnake, one King Snake, and a Mule deer, however no pictures were taken. You will have to take my word for it.
On our last day in Kings Canyon, Moraine Campground began their weekday schedule of burning dead trees. The smoke was beginning to encroach us, so we decided to take a hike on the Don Cecil Trail. The trailhead was located in our campground. It was a 4.8 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of almost 4,000 feet. This would not be an easy hike, but it would take us away from the smell of smoke.
Less than a mile in, we crossed over Sheep Creek Cascade.
It was a pretty warm day, and we both were sweating. As we looked off to our right, we could see the cool, snow-capped mountains.
A little farther up, we could see the smoke bellowing from below.
For the first time, we saw a red alien-looking plant that I thought was a flower. You tell me.
In case you really want to know…
Sarcodes is the monotypic genus of a north-west American flowering springtime plant in the heath family (Ericaceae), containing the single species Sarcodes sanguinea, commonly called the snow plant or snow flower. It is a parasitic plant that derives sustenance and nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that attach to roots of trees. Lacking chlorophyll, it is unable to photosynthesize. Ectomycorrhizal (EM)symbioses involve a mutualism between a plant root and a fungus; the plant provides fixed carbon to the fungus and in return, the fungus provides mineral nutrients, water and protection from pathogens to the plant. The snow plant takes advantage of this mutualism by tapping into the network and stealing sugars from the photosynthetic partner by way of the fungus. This form of parasitism is known as mycoheterotrophy.
We took a short break so that Scott could fill his water bladder from the stream. He hasn’t done this since last summer when we were hiking in Colorado. I don’t find much difference in the taste of our water, but he does.
As we continued on, there was continued evidence of deadfall among the living.
This wasn’t a very picturesque hike. The dead trees made me sad, and the constant uphill was challenging. Less than one mile from Summit Meadow, I called it quits. I did NOT want to go UP anymore. I encouraged Scott to finish the hike to the peak, but he refused. We began our retreat, and I didn’t look back.
We had paid to stay at Moraine Campground for two more nights, but we left a day early the following morning. They would be burning trees every morning for the entire week. Next stop, Yosemite National Park.