Road trip: Sequoia National Forest (part 1)

First of all, I apologize for the site being down so long. I was just trying to update WordPress, and I ended up crashing the whole site, which took a while to put back together. On the plus side it gave me lots of time to go through all my photos from our recent vacation, so now I can post them!

Our trip was kind of a surprise. Our Minneapolis friends Brigid and Aaron were planning a trip to see the giant sequoias and asked if we’d like to come along. We took about half a second to say yes. Unlike the coastal redwoods, which we’ve already seen, the giant sequoias are some of the widest, and overall largest and oldest trees in the world. Seeing them was sort of a life list thing for us.

We also just wanted to hang out with Brigid and Aaron, who are expecting a baby in a few months. They are just as nerdy as we are when it comes to nature, and they make great traveling companions. They’re the only people I know that are willing to be squished in the back of our overfilled 2-door Yaris for an extended road trip.

I’m dividing my posts about the trip into two parts because I have so many photos. The first part covers the time we spent in a remote cabin in the Sequoia National Forest. Then the second part will be from Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, where we stayed at the John Muir Lodge. It’s kind of confusing, when you’re in the national forest, versus the national park, versus the national monument. Hopefully it will all make sense!

So we started out driving to Fresno, picked up some groceries (since we had to bring all our own food and bedding to the cabin), and then headed east into the mountains. We took a very curvy road up to about 7,000 feet to our Grouse Valley cabin. The best way to describe its location is probably the middle of nowhere, although not quite as remote as Mono Hot Springs was. The one-lane dirt road part was only about 5 miles this time…

We stopped along the road on the way there to admire the view and some flowers. We spotted some monarch caterpillars and these spiky looking plants.


The view up top.

The cabin itself is one of three on the property. We stayed in the caretaker’s cabin, which is code for ‘not as nice as the other ones.’ If we go back I would definitely stay in this one that has its own lake.

But the overall property was just beautiful.


Apparently, you can bring your horses with you on vacation. 

In the distance we could see cows grazing, and after a while they came over to investigate us.

They may have been upset that we were cooking a steak dinner.

This mule deer also came by a couple times.

In addition to horse and cow pastures and pretty lakes, the property also has apple and pear orchards and almond trees.

There was also a big field of yellow flowers right outside the cabin.

The sunset that first night was just gorgeous.

The next day we decided to drive to the top of the mountain for a better view.

It was just blue sky for miles and miles.

We couldn’t help but giggle at one of the peaks that looked like a butt. We dubbed it butt butte.

The next day we drove into the woods a little bit and went for a hike. The trails weren’t marked particularly well, but they also didn’t go particularly far.

We finally got to see some of those big trees.

These pine cones actually came from a sugar pine.

We kept finding all these cool wild flowers everywhere we went. Of course I’ve forgotten the names of most of them.

We found a little lake, and as we peered over the ridge we saw our friends, the cows.

We didn’t think they would be nimble enough to make it up the hill, but eventually they came and joined us.

The only scary part was on our way back, when we saw what we were pretty sure was bear poop.

But we never actually saw a bear. Many, many other animals, but no bears.

Part 2 coming soon!