The decision was made to skip Joshua Tree National Park and head to Lake Isabella / Kern River Valley KOA for a few extra days to escape the heat of the desert and have some additional down time from traveling. Isabella Lake is one of the largest bodies of water in Southern California. Around the lake are numerous campgrounds for RV’s and tenting, which allow direct access to the lake for activities such as windsurfing, boating and fishing.
A little over an hour away in the Sequoia National Forest is the “Trail of 100 Giants.” The Kern River Valley is the Gateway to the Sequoia’s. These giants grow only on the western slop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They are more massive than the coastal redwoods and considered to be the largest trees in the world in terms of volume. The trail is a self-guided walk through the Long Meadow Grove of Giant Sequoias. We were absolutely in awe of these magnificent trees. Even pictures can’t capture the beauty of these giants. It was like being a little gnome in an enchanted forest!
After a few days of down time we were off to Sequoia Campground and Lodge in Three Rivers, CA, about 2 ½ hours away. The drive out of Isabella Lake was probably one of the most challenging with the RV, but beautiful. It was a very narrow two-lane paved road. Some spots were one lane at times due to road work, places where there were no guard rails and no shoulder, with a very steep drop from the canyon wall into a very raging Kern River. Although, the wildflower display gave the mountains a stunning lavender hue. The canyons and river were amazing. Both of us were wiping the sweat off our hands and breathing a sigh of relief when we made it to Bakersfield.
The rest of the trip was more relaxed admiring the fruit and nut groves. The orange groves are very different than Florida orange groves.
The Sequoia Campground and Lodge is 15 minutes away from the Foothills Visitor Center in the Sequoia National Park, the beginning of our trek. This park is immense and connects to Kings Canyon National Park. The Giant Forest Museum has some informative exhibits and trail information. It is also a hub to take shuttles to places you want to see. The park was busy and parking can be difficult especially with a dually, so we opted to utilize the shuttle service instead of driving. The first shuttle took us to the Big Trees Trail and General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is estimated at 2,200 years old. Its largest branch is almost seven feet in diameter. Venture off, following John Muir’s footsteps, onto one of the trails in the area to experience the solitude and majesty of this place.
The other shuttle we took was to Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow. Moro Rock is a dome-shaped granite rock with spectacular views. Crescent Meadow is wetland surrounded by Sequoias. Our hike was to Chimney Tree and Tharp’s Log. Chimney Tree was destroyed by fire in 1914 but still stands defiantly. Tharp’s Log is named after Hale Tharp described as the first non-native American to enter the Giant Forest. He used a fallen sequoia log as a cabin. John Muir described it as a “noble den.”
“When I entered this sublime wilderness the day was nearly done, the trees with rosy, glowing countenances, seemed to be hushed and thoughtful, as if waiting in conscious religious dependence on the sun, and one naturally walked softly and awe stricken among them.” …John Muir