After spending the day at the lake trying out the kayak, the next day we decided to go hiking. But even though the park gives you a driving map when you enter, the literature all states that hiking maps are sold at the visitor centers. What a gimmick! So we went down (in elevation) to Lodgepole Visitor Center to obtain a map.
That is also where you go to purchase tickets to see Crystal Cave and they just happened to have a tour that fit out timing. We have been doing a lot of cave tours, so we weren’t exactly thinking this was a must do. However, Crystal Cave was the first cave I ever toured and I had fond memories and Tom had never explored it, so I thought it would be a good idea to take the tour. So we did.
What sets this cave apart from others is that it’s formed by marble calcite rather than calcium calcite, so it had very pretty coloring in places. It’s smaller than other caves we’ve been in, but it was a nice tour. And a beautiful 1/2 mile hike down (and up of course) to the entrance.
The only drawback was it was lower elevation (4500’) and that means HOT! But of course it was a perfect 50 degrees inside the cave, so all in all a very nice trip. Here are some of the cave pics:
Then as we were headed home, we were going to pass Crescent Meadows. Again, I had very fond memories of hiking the loop there many years ago. And Tom had never been, so – you know the story – we had to go.
On the way there we passed (and stopped at) the drive-on log, a very old fallen Sequoia Redwood that is large enough to drive a car onto. They don’t allow that any more, but there are plenty of pictures of old model cars parked on top. The entrance to the parking area goes past the up-ended rootball which is very impressive in it’s size.
Past that is the turn off to Morro Rock Lookout. I remember it as a tough climb in my youth. We reasoned that the air quality was so bad the view wouldn’t be worth the hiking in the heat. It was late afternoon and pretty hot so we continued up in elevation to Crescent Meadow.
It’s a beautiful meadow with a very nice trail around it – paved mostly – and not a lot of elevation change. And only a couple of miles. Perfect!
As soon as we started the loop we got an excited report from someone coming the other way that there was a bear ahead. This is a popular spot (i.e. more crowded) and sure enough, just up the trail we saw a gathering of people with cameras out. Yep, there was the bear about fifty foot off the trail. It was lumbering along, poking in trees for food (I assume) and was really cool to watch. After a while we were on our way, but when we circled back to the same spot the bear was headed straight to a connecting path.
We walked quickly past, then turned to watch it cross the path with the group of people still looking on. It was collared and I’m sure it was no threat to anyone, but I’m glad that no dough-head tried to walk up to it (as I’ve seen so many people do with wild animals).
Then on to Tharp’s log and the Chimney Tree. Tharp was a guy who built his home inside a hollowed out tree trunk of a fallen( assumed) giant redwood. Kinda cool. But a popular spot with a crowd of people.
The Chimney tree is the standing remains of a burned Sequoia.
You can stand in it which is pretty awesome. And it’s off the main path so we had it to ourselves. We went on a couple of other side shoots, like the one to Squatter’s Cabin – built in the 1880’s.
After getting back on the main loop to return to the parking lot we went by a large fallen tree that made a bridge into the meadow itself, of course I had to walk on it and see the flowers up close.
So all in all, a wonderful day spent in the Sequoia National Forest.
Peace & Love, Joy