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Sequoia National Park -- A Cure For Heat Exhaustion


 The day before at Pinnacles National Park was far too hot and we were looking for an reprieve. We left our hotel in Coalinga, CA early morning and drove the two hours to Sequoia National Park in search of cooler weather. We couldn't get a very good picture of the Sequoia National Park sign in the foothills area because the pull off was being taken over by a large first responder / search and rescue set up. We weren't sure what was going on, but later found out that a teen was tragically swept away by the Kaweah River. The rivers in California are no joke in the spring with all of the snow-melt accelerating the water.  Almost every river we came across on our CA trip was positively raging.

We arrived at the Foothills Visitor Center to grab our cancellation stamp and to see if there was any relevant information. Like most Visitor Centers they have a whiteboard with relevant weather information. Out of the corner of my eye I saw 95 degrees. NO! Not again! Not another scorching hot day! I can't! I'm still feeling weird after getting heat exhaustion at Pinnacles! However, the 95 degrees was only for the Foothills area of Sequoia National Park. As you continue along the park road you have fairly significant elevation change. By time we got to the Sherman Tree in the Giant Forest, the temperature was almost 20 degrees cooler! Low 70s sure felt great!

Lake Kaweah Sequoia
Right before Sequoia National Park outside of Three Rivers is Lake Kaweah. I decided to snap a pic. It's the first time I'm seen this much water on our CA trip since Channel Islands National Park. Also, if I didn't know any better I'd swear that's a picture of Eastern Washington somewhere, like Lake Roosevelt. Gotta love those reservoirs around arid weather hills. There were bathrooms at the pulloff, but it looks like there must have been a recent flood, because the bathrooms were locked shut and several tree remnants were piled up near the doors. I guess I'll hold my pea sized bladder until the Foothills Visitor Center!!

Sequoia National Park sign
Sequoia National Park sign at the Foothills entrance. Highly cropped due to aforementioned river rescue

We intended on today being way more relaxing, so we only did some short hikes, pulloffs, and easy sights. I was legit still dizzy and weak from heat exhaustion the day before. 

Kaweah River in the Foothills
Some great views of the Kaweah river right off of the Generals Hwy in the Foothills!

Kaweah River Bend
Check out that Horseshoe Bend of the Kaweah River! Beautiful scenery around it too!

chaparral yucca at sequoia np
I love learning about new plants and seeing them. Here's an unbloomed Chaparral Yucca! They'll eventually get some nice white flowers to them. I became fascinated with these guys, they're all over CA!

Kaweah River Up close
We decided to head down from the road and check out the Kaweah river up close before we headed for higher ground up Generals Highway! It was relatively tame in this specific spot, but it was raging in other areas.

Raging kaweah River
Yeah I'm gonna heed the NPS warnings and not go in the river.

Beautiful mountain views Sequoia NP
Cool mountain rock that I'm definitely not going to climb!

The hills have color
Had to steal a picture of this. Such cool colors on the hill!

Sequoia mountain views
Awesome mountain views! I definitely was not expecting this of Sequoia National Park.

I'll be honest, I didn't know much about Sequoia National Park before visiting. All I know is, I want to visit every National Park and take in their beauty. I knew that I should expect towering, massive, Sequoia trees. What I did not realize was that they were at a higher elevation, and that we'd experience plenty of amazing mountain views as well. That was a perfect surprise!

The Fourguardsmen Sequoia
At almost 6000 feet elevation stand The Guardsmen. The temperature is quickly getting cooler, more bearable as we climb in elevation on Generals Highway. It's going to be a good day. The Four Guardsmen tower over Generals Highway acting as "guards" to the entrance of the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park.

Sentinel Tree Sequoia NP
Sentinel Sequoia - 251 Feet taller than I am. Crazy to think about. I live in a 25 story apartment. This tree would basically be as tall as the building. And this isn't even close to the tallest Sequoia tree.


Moro Rock from Hanging Rock Trail
Moro Rock Trail from the Hanging Rock Trail. There are steps and handrails that you can take up to the top of Moro Rock. In fact, there are people on top of it, in this picture. Much like Half Dome in Yosemite, that's a no for me dawg. I might be working on my intense fear of heights, but that's still too much.


Alpine wildflowers sequoia np
This is something I quickly became enamored with for the rest of the trip. Roughly above 5000 feet in elevation, these beautifully colored alpine wildflowers started to appear. They continued throughout our entire California trip at higher altitudes.

Hanging Rock Sequoia NP
Hanging Rock at Sequoia National Park. How cool is that? I shudder to think what an earthquake would do to this sight.

Hanging Rock views
Beyond the hanging rock, the views from here are amazing! Look at all of those ridges! Move over Ruffles, Sequoia has ridges! Who needs to climb up Moro Rock? These views are perfect.

Pink Painted Hills
Here's more of those wildflowers man. Pink painted hills. So pretty.

Parker Group Sequoia
The Parker Group of Sequoia. So tall. So majestic. The air in this place smells so good.

Massive felled sequoia
Peep this massive felled sequoia and its root system. HUGE.

Hazlewood Nature Loop
We did some trails intertwining in the Hazlewood Nature Loop. Easy walks when you're recovering from heat exhaustion

Big Boi
Massive Sequoia Tree!

Western Giant Ichneumonid Wasp
My GF is deathly allergic to wasps. So naturally I shooed her away and had to take a picture of this beast. A Western Giant Ichneumonid Wasp. Just look at that thing.

Scary dead tree
Dude. Look at that tree. I can't place my finger on what it looks like, but I feel like it's trying to tell me not to continue on the trail.

MASSIVE sequoia
Holy Sequoia!

Meadow with Sequoias
This lovely meadow lined with Sequoias. We saw some families allowing their children to just run into it like it was an everyday city park. Some people man. This is why we can't have nice things.

Blue Dragonfly
Check out this striking blue dragonfly!

Sequoia Mountains
I keep telling you dude, look at those mountains! So many layers! Amazing!

Rock Wildflowers
The pink wildflowers growing out of this rock were too pretty to ignore

leaving sequoia
We're tired. We're still heat exhausted from the day before. We saw some amazing stuff today still, but we're leaving the park. Checking out this beautiful stream as the sun is going down.

We stayed right outside of the park in the Sequoia National Forest at Stoney Creek Lodge. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, it was visually dilapidated with no AC and minimal amenities. I completely understand that we are in the middle of nowhere in a national forest, but to call itself a lodge is a bit of a long shot. If this were a place with camping cabins, I wouldn't bat an eye, but it definitely left something to be desired. They also claimed to have a restaurant on site for dinner, but were randomly closed on the day that we were there, forcing us to scramble to find food elsewhere. I will say, they had a free breakfast in the morning that was pretty legit though. Plenty of eggs and potatoes were consumed. There's no better pre-hike breakfast.


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