Starting at the southern entrance into the Sequoia we settled to quick camp along the Kern river for the weekend. Camp sites and portable bathrooms were made available all along the river. Some sites were closed but a lot were open. That was a surprise in comparison to what California had open the last time when we went through the northern part in December.
Finding this spot made us hopeful about future camping spot opportunities along the Sequoia forest but unfortunately we were being naive. From what we gathered, because of Covid, all of California’s forests workers were “short staffed” and therefore only certain “paid” campgrounds were open. The ones that were open were reservation only and some you had to reserve six months in advance! Most of the forest roads were still closed. Even parts of the National parks were still closed.
We were hoping to see Yosemite and Kings canyon but after driving all the way up past the Sequoia national park, seeing several miles of burnt forest and logging, I had decided that I’d seen enough and would rather come back at another time when I could have the full experience without any restrictions or road closures. No point in seeing half of a forest that offers so much!
It was incredible walking among the giants of the sequoia. These trees can live for up to or over 3,000 years. Their bark is 3 feet in diameter. The bark is the softest bark I’ve ever felt. The trees can only reproduce from tiny seeds that need just the right conditions for a sapling to thrive. Forest fires actually facilitate by providing nutrient rich ash in which the seeds need to grow. The trees are protected from fires because their thick bark is flame resistant. They are also extremely hardy, resisting fungal rot and wood boring beetles.
European-Americans first stumbled upon giant sequoias in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in 1853, according to The Guardian. It took three weeks to cut down. The stump was used as a dance floor. Although sequoias were logged in the 1870s, their wood does not make for good lumber because it is fibrous and brittle.
Thankfully now, most of the giant sequoia groves are protected.
After exploring these amazing trees, we headed through wine valley up and down what seemed like hours of the most winding roads you’ve ever seen. We saw many valleys with great views only occupied by livestock.
The air smelled sweet from the hundreds of orchards which included everything thing from oranges, lemons, to grapefruit and more.
It had been an exhausting three days in the car. We had seen a lot and were all ready to find a spot where we could settle down for a while. With so much of California being closed, we knew where we needed to go for this. So we headed further up north towards Oregon.