From our campsite, the Giant Forest was about 10 miles up the mountain through a number of switchbacks. As we drove and reached higher elevation, the flora continued to brighten and grow – By the time we entered the Giant Forest officially, we had ascended about 4000 feet. Our first priority was seeing the General Sherman Tree (The largest Tree in the World) .
We got to the Giant Forest Museum at about 10:00 AM where we parked and headed to the museum/information desk to find out about the best trail to hike and the best way to see the giant trees that the Forest got its name from. As we talked to the park ranger, who wasn’t very friendly, I noticed a chart hung up on the wall that detailed the dates and wild animals that people saw on their hikes in the Giant Forest: Listed was 1 adult bear and 2 cubs, both seen the day before. As anyone who knows me knows, one of my goals in life is to see a bear in the flesh in its natural habitat so to say i was excited is an understatement.
We got on the shuttle to take us to the site of the General Sherman Tree and other large trees and were there in about ten minutes. Once we exited the bus we found ourselves amongst giants. The first thing we did was make our way to the General Sherman Tree where we took pictures as well as having to deal with rude tourists. A middle aged lady and her husband walked in front of Jacqueline and I as we posed to get photos in front of the tree in order to get photos of their own. To make it worse, the lady had blue hair and was shouting commands at an old man who was doing them a favor by taking a picture of them. Jacqueline and I were amazed at the boldness and blatant disrespect expressed by the couple who were many years our senior.If there was a downside to this part of the Giant Forest, it was the tourists and their ignorance of basic social awareness. But even with that, it gave us something to make fun of and laugh at while we explored the rest of the site. The Sherman Tree was huge, but in the context of the other large trees there, it left us lackluster.
This gave us a bit more context on the true mass of the trees we were walking amongst.
We explored the rest of the site, seeing the Trees and marveling at their size and their age (About 2000 years old). There was a base of an old Giant Sequoia Tree on display at the site that really gave a better feel for the size of the trees that surrounded us, being that the other Trees were surrounded by fences barring us from getting as close to them as Jacqueline and I would have liked. We completed our exploration of the trees faster than we planned for, and made our way back to the shuttle to take us to our next adventure: Tokopah Falls Trail.
This trail wasn’t very long (3.4 Miles RoundTrip) or challenging like past hikes we did,but it was fun,beautiful, and rewarding.We started the trail and immediately were forced to walk through red swarms of bugs buzzing over the trail; bugs we would realize later were ladybugs. As we hiked the mostly flat trail, the ladybug presence dissipated and the sound of the river that paralleled the trail grew stronger.
The trail was beautiful and filled with boulders, trees towering over us, and dead/rotting fallen trees which laid across the trail at times. We hiked over boulders and streams all with the roar of the river flowing past us and the views of the serene blue sky over the tree covered mountains above us.
Though it was no bear, we did see wildlife on our way up to the falls. We saw a a few lizards but the big animal spotting was some sort of groundhog. As we got closer to the falls, we started seeing more of them scurrying across the trails and trekking down the rocks closer to the falls to drink water; something we also did but not for water, and instead some good photos.
After traversing up and over some rocks in the trail, we finally made it to the falls where the mist of the falling water showered our sweaty bodies as we relaxed on a boulder that overlooked the river and valley beneath. One thing we realized when we got there was that we should have packed sandwiches to eat in celebration of completing the hike, and of course for some sustenance. Oh well, you live and your learn right?
We would have had some phenomenal pictures to show you , but unfortunately the man who took pictures of us as we climbed dangerously close to the upper portions of the falls was incompetent. Instead of getting the waterfall and the mountains into the shot, the young man zoomed in so the pictures were just of us and a black background, which was the medium sized rock behind us. We didn’t realize how shitty of a photographer he was until we climbed back to the end of the trail, and at that point it was too late to ask him to take more pictures. You win some, you lose some i guess.
Luckily, we got a few other pictures that weren’t entirely terrible though they did not show the immensity and power of the waterfall as the aforementioned pictures could have.
As we made our back to the trailhead, we got as close to a bear as I ever have.We came across a group of people standing on the trail looking out into the wilderness and one man who was quietly stepping through the forest like he was hunting or something. It turns out, about 15 seconds prior to us arriving a large bear was right off the trail and the small group had all seen it. Jacqueline and I waited for about 10 minutes for the bear to reappear so I could make a check in my bucket list, but unfortunately the bear never granted us its presence. We left with only seeing a a picture of the bear on a nice British couple’s camera. Though I didn’t get to see a bear on this trip, there is a few more opportunities coming this summer so stay tuned to this blog to see if I get to have my dream come true when #TyGoestoAlaska and #TyGoestoYosemite.
Enjoy the Ride!