June 9, 2012

Trip Start Apr 28, 2012
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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, June 9, 2012

Today we planned on seeing the giant sequoia trees in the southern part of Yosemite Park, but rather than travel over the mountain roads leading into and through the park we decided to take a longer but what looked like an easier ride on the map to the west of the park and entering the park from the south. We started off by going west on CA Rt 120 and then south on Rt 49; we quickly realized that this road was no easier than the roads we took yesterday, but it was already too late to turn around, at least this was different scenery, and it was beautiful scenery.  At a point where it became possible we let the GPS find an alternative route over the mountains.  The alternative route started off ok but we quickly came upon an "unpaved" road, we didn't think too much about this until the width of the road diminished to a one lane road, and to make matters worse the gravel road became a dirt road, then the dirt road became a washed out rutted dirt road.  The GPS was actually picking out the necessary turns and we felt ok until the dirt track we were following turned into a private driveway that was guarded by several mean looking dogs.  At this point we turned around and returned to the highway, this mishap must have taken an hour.  The GPS was adjusted so that it would not use unpaved or dirt roads in future routings; so we tried again to find an alternate route over the mountains.  Again we followed the GPS turning left onto a small paved road, everything was going fine until we came to a point in the road where the road surface had recently been oiled; and I immediately determined that I was not proceeding any further, so we again returned to the highway.  At this point we determined that the best course was to take the longer route and follow the roadmap to CA Rt 41 and proceed north to the entrance of the park.  This trip that we had hoped would be a quick route turned into a 3 hour and 45 minute drive.  Because today was designated as an appreciation day at the park, the entrance fee was eliminated, so the public was out in force to take advantage of the opportunity to enter the park free of charge.  From our standpoint, parking was the only problem, the crowds were there but they were not overwhelming.  We took the free shuttle bus from the parking lot the 6 miles to the “Mariposa Grove” of Giant Sequoia trees.  Because these trees are scattered throughout the pine forest we took advantage of a tram that takes you through the forest.  The Giant Sequoia is a huge tree that towers over all the other trees and they can live for over two thousand years with trunks that can reach over 25 feet thick, and with limbs that can be a large as the trunks of the average pine tree.  For reasons not fully understood these trees are not subject to disease, rot or the effects of insects; the only cause for their demise is that their root systems cannot hold the weight of the giant tree and it topples over, but even lying on the ground the wood does not rot.  These are ancient trees that have only survived in a few isolated locations where the climate and the amount of ground water is sufficient to support the tree; fire is also important to the health and survival of the tree, but because the wildfires have been controlled to “protect” the tree, its reproductive process has been interfered with, as their seeds depend on the ash resulting from a fire to germinate.  The grandeur of these trees is unsurpassed, from their age, their height, girth and their ability to survive in this ever changing world.  After spending several hours in the grove we decided to return to the camper, but this time we would use the road through the park and CA Rt 120 for the trip. 
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