After a couple of days of no hiking we were ready for a challenge again. We had driven past an area called Quail Flats that had a road going down to some trailheads, so Tom looked it up in our trusty guidebook.
We picked the Hart Tree Loop, listed as a 7.2 mile loop with a rating of “moderate, due to length”. Tom felt we were up for it! The book described like this: “This jaunt takes you to an old logging camp, a sequoia ‘log cabin’, a pretty meadow, and a waterfall, all while traveling through the largest sequoia grove left standing on the planet.” *[see credits below]
Who wouldn’t want to do this hike, right? Especially since I had read the day before that taking a walk in the forest was like taking a shower in oxygen.
We love the giant Sequoias. Who doesn’t? And if you’ve never stood inside one of them, it should definitely be on your bucket list.
We only used to live a couple of hours away from the big trees, so of course we’ve seen them before. The General Grant and General Sherman Trees are internationally famous, so that of course is where most of the tourists go. But to take a secluded walk in the largest sequoia grove on earth? Sign us up!
So we took the drive down to the trailhead. Down is never good in the mountains here in the summer, as it means lower elevations which means higher temperatures.
We parked at the trailheads to two different hikes: one started going up, and one started going down. We started on the one going down. As I may have mentioned (more than once) before, if you start by going down, it usually means the finish is uphill. Ugh. But this hike was a loop, so I remained optimistic. And even though I was already worrying about the uphill climb as we started our descent, the area was just too beautiful to have a negative thought.
There were SO many redwood trees. Even though we were going down and up and up and down, I kept my mind on the beauty and it wasn’t too difficult at all. We made it to the Hart Tree, about half way, which was the 4th largest sequoia at one time (but not anymore for some reason – maybe the severity of the burns?).
We passed the “pretty meadow”, which was gorgeous, but there were too many mosquitos to stop and take it in.
There were many burned out (and still living) trees that you could enter.
The longevity of these trees, even after they’re dead, is incredible. Some remain hardly changed over a hundred years after they’ve fallen over. We passed several trees you could walk through, including the tunnel tree.
Along the trail several fallen pine trees have recently been cut through to clear the path. There was one that hadn’t been cleared yet, so we detoured around.
We even saw a couple of deer, one who continued to follow us along for a bit and stopped by a creek for a snack just like we did. It was all so awesome.
About three quarters of the hike and I was still doing good. Then I hit my hot. The further down we went, and the later in the day it got, the hotter it got. I think it got up to ninety degrees – too hot for comfort! I kept hoping we would finish on a down, but no – turn after turn the path led up.
At one point I had to utilize a mantra to keep my mind off my whining, “A thousand steps begins with just one, nine-hundred ninety-nine steps begin with just one, nine-hundred ninety-eight steps…”
I even entertained thoughts of how humiliating it would be to have someone pack me out on a horse if I should collapse. (I was no where near collapsing, but the thought kept me going!)
Luckily, the sky clouded up and it spit some rain on us and the temperature dropped over ten degrees. Thank goodness because we were on the uphill return.
I swear that last mile drags on and on. We could have stopped to take a breather, but we were so close to the end it seemed silly. So onward and upward and finally the parking lot was in sight. Whew!
This was definitely our most challenging hike to date due to the distance, elevation changes – and my aversion to overheating. But I was so proud of us both for making it! And I am ready and willing for the next challenge.
Peace & Love, Joy
* quote from a Falcon Guide by Laurel Scheidt entitled “Best Easy Day Hikes Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks”
PS: If you’re wondering what the blue thing is that I’m wearing around my neck, it is a cooling cloth that works like magic. I don’t think I could have survived without it!