the giants of the sierras

26. Sequoia National P.

Starting at the feet of Whitney, the Kern River runs from the high sierras down into Bakersfield where it becomes agriculture food. Carrying some 165 miles, it's the longest river in the Sierra Nevada. A sign at the southern gate to sequoia national says: the Kern has taken 265+ lives since 1968. I drove a mile and pulled off to check out an auto beaten bobcat.

The first good bit of park, from my vantage, ran up the winding Kern from Bakersfield. A "rolled earth fill dam" helped the river to puddle up as the 11,400 acre--Lake Isabella. The purpose of the big puddle as they say is "flood control and irrigation."

After another salami lunch, I made a walk through my 1st sequioa grove, "trail of 100 giants" they called it. $5 for parking for 20 minutes in the woods. I walked and photographed like the rest of them then drove on north randomly through the pudgy and sparse tree hills of the western edge of the park.

I saw cows, coyotes, and a guy from Minnesota on a bicycle. He said he had kids in the school I currently attend, and that he himself went to school in Indiana. He told of the famous fruit bearing murals of small town Exeter, of what he called "the most beautiful remote sections of sequoia and kings canyon national P.,"and he told me a great route for foot climbing to the top of the United States.

I did what he told me. I drove on into Exeter, scoped out the murals, bought a bag of 8 oranges for $2, then drove up the winding mineral king mountain drive to a secluded sequoia grove campspot where I would change my mode of travel for 6 days.

Exeter sat where the hills flattened. The irrigation canals wound round and the yellow turned to green.

Through the orchards, up 198, past three rivers, along a flooded out recreational reservoir, and up the winding drive to my camp where I met more Giants and the 1st of three brown bears lapping water and chewing yellow flowers.