After a couple of false starts (including getting the Honda stuck in 14” of snow on the road to Fresno Dome and venturing down a “trail” that turned out to be, well, NOT a trail) we ended up hiking what we both agreed is one of our favorite spots in this area so far.
RULE OF THUMB: Deep snow + low ground clearance vehicle = don’t try it. But when it was the only thing in the way of us reaching the trailhead to hike Fresno Dome, well…my driver had to try it. Just when we laced up our boots and were deciding which one of us was going to push, as luck would have it two trucks pulled up behind us. Two families out sightseeing – two extra men, two shovels and a tow rope! We were on our way (down the mountain ) in no time.
Plan B was easy since there was another section of Nelder Grove that we hadn’t hiked yet.
Some trailheads are better marked than others, so venturing off into the woods in the general direction we knew we had to go wasn’t that unusual. Some trails are cleared better than others, so hiking over fallen trees wasn’t that unusual. When it got to the point of looking for signs of previous foot traffic when the trail was no longer apparent, that’s when my gut said we need to back track and find the trail.
So by mid-afternoon we were finally starting our hike. Part of me wished Jim hadn’t pointed out that the final highlight on this hike (Old Granddad) is three miles in. Quick math tells me that’s six miles round trip, on top of the false starts and the day is not young. But, we agreed, we’ll get as far as we can get today.
Graveyard of the Giants is an area that contains a number of large sequoias killed by wildfire, which is rare due to the sequoia’s protective bark. Evidence from logging can be seen in this area too. Loggers only use the first 25% of the tree since the upper part of these brittle giants crack upon impact. Due to the tannins in the tree, the remaining portion lays on the forest floor hard as a rock, hard as it was the day it fell over 100 years ago. Amazing.
One of the reasons we enjoyed this hike so much was the complete solitude. Aside from a nice couple from Montana that we met as we were almost back to the car, we hiked for nearly four hours and had the forest completely to ourselves. Happily, I was fueled by the beauty of the area and only when I sat down did my feet nudge me about how far we walked. We both absolutely love our new Lowa Renegade GTX hiking boots – comfortable, waterproof, and oh so easy on the feet!
If you’re in search of giant sequoias, there are trails such as the Mariposa Grove where they are more plentiful and trails such as the Bull Buck trail where they are easier to reach. If you want a hike with a few giant sequoias, a gorgeous little waterfall, piney aromas, and expansive views of the surrounding mountains where the only sounds accompanying your footsteps are bird chirping and wind blowing in the treetops, this is your spot.
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