Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kings Canyon and Grant Grove

Roughing it in Kings.
 I've taken a couple weeks to concentrate on things other than rock art and brush and poison oak and yucca wounds, all of which are fun and exciting but not to be found in the Sierras. I've had a lot of life-related business lately and this year hasn't been a good one for vacations. For instance, that blood clot I had at the beginning of the year killed a trip to Breckenridge. Another snafu wrecked a trip to Maui and yet another problem led to the cancellation of an April trip to Paris. I need time off. Yes, I am whining, and you would be too if you'd had to bail on those three trips. Sheesh. Ruth and I are booking a real trip now but in the near term I needed a few days of R&R, and for that I go to the Canyon. Everything about this getaway was rejuvinative and restorative but as with most of these things, it didn't last long enough. Oh, and I turned 41 while there.

We spent four full days up in Kings relaxing, biking, swimming, hiking and horseback riding. The weather was great while we were there, typical afternoon thundershower activity with average temps in the high 70's. It's such a dry year that there were very few bugs, however the flip side of that coin was that the USFS wouldn't allow me to burn any of the mass of firewood I brought. They'd already had a couple fires in the canyon this summer so they dropped the hammer. The folks at the Cedar Grove store aren't happy about it. They told me the store sells about $3-4,000 worth of firewood every month and they've got whole cases of SMOREs kits they can't move. High drama. Here's a few photos from the weekend

The always remarkable Roaring River Falls, after a rainstorm.

The Kings River upstream of Zumwalt Meadows.
The Kings River at Roads End.
Mist Falls. It's kind of a shame to visit Kings and not add this easy 9 mile round trip hike to your agenda. It ins't just the falls that make the day, these opening miles of the JMT take you through post-card perfect Sierra forests next to the rushing Kings. Every portion of this hike is spectacularly beautiful. 

A sunny spot just above Mist Falls.

The junction of the Kings River and Bubbs Creek which heads east toward Kearsarge.
This chunk of rock is incredibly massive. Judging it's size against that of my house, I have to guess it's size at 4-5,000 square feet of displaced air. This rock can be seen 150' off the trail to Mist Falls.
Ruth and the ass end of Bud. I would recommend the packing outfit at Cedar Grove. They do everything from one hour rides to multi-day drop-offs deep in the backcountry. They were great guys with good horses, and Bill the collie made us feel very welcome.
Cedar Grove Overlook
Trigger, Bud, and Dirk. Dirk is a former Pro Rodeo bronc rider/rodeo clown, and currently works as a ferrier/packer on his sixth season here in Kings. He owns property and some horses on the Snake in southwest Idaho. He did not appear to be suffering from job stress.

Kings River at sunset.
Bench rock mortars. I found these near the grave of two of Kings Canyon's early white explorers, Abram Agnew (1820-1900) and Jesse Agnew (1863-1931). Presumably Jesse is Abram's son. This site can be found near the Zumwalt Meadows parking area.

The Giant Sequoias of Grant Grove. No trip to Kings is complete without a walk among these jaw-dropping titans. Most of the large trees here pre-date Christ. They are the heaviest organisms on earth.

Ruthie, spanning the interior of the above tree.
The General Grant. Epic.

Staring down the inside of a fallen giant sequoia. Take a trip to Kings. It's like Yosemite but with none of the crowds, an ideal escape. 


  1. Awesome pictures! Sounds like a nice time.
    Oh, and happy birthday!

  2. Kings Canyon is great. Planning a family trip in the Spring. Also, I hiked from Cedar Grove to Whitney Portal when I was 12. A spectacular trip. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Looks like a great trip, an excellent place to celebrate your 41st. I'll be celebrating my 33rd up in the Sierra next month somewhere along the JMT.

    The hike up Paradise Valley to Mist Falls is a nice walk; it's part of the popular Rae Lakes Loop hike (definitely worth doing the whole thing one of these days).

    Not to nitpick but technically the trail to Mist Falls is not part of the JMT... although it will eventually take you to the JMT if you follow the trail far enough upstream.

  4. Nic you rotten nit-picker, of course you are correct. I did the Rae Lakes loop many years ago and regret not ranging into the Gardiner Basin. Sigh, one of these days