Tag Archives: Sequoia National Park

Sequoia NP - Watchtower View Panorama

17 Days to WSER: Pear Lake

My original plan for day three in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks had involved two 10-mile runs, but after a decision the previous day to start more of a taper I instead decided to extend my time in the parks by another day and complete the runs over two separate days. The other factor helping to aid the decision was that I could stay a second night in the same campsite and enjoy a more relaxed day with zero driving after completing my run for the day.

After breakfast I set out for my run from the Lodgepole campsite in Sequoia National Park. I would follow an out-and-back route along the Lakes Trail past a number of alpine lakes to my turnaround point at Pear Lake. As has become the norm on many of my runs of late I would set out with an ascent and then descend all the way back.

The first section of my run took me out on the same trails I had used to return the previous afternoon. I took the trail from Lodgepole towards the Giant Forest and turned off towards the parking and picnic area at Wolverton. I then reached the turnoff for the Lakes Trail and commenced my journey along a section of track I had not yet seen. One mile along the trail it splits in two before rejoining further along. For the outward journey I headed towards the Watchtower, climbing up for a look over the surrounding area. Interestingly the lookout is not at a peak or a high point along the trail, so you continue to climb as soon as you move past the viewpoint.

Sequoia NP - Descending on Aster Lake
Sequoia NP – Descending on Aster Lake

I continued to climb before arriving at Heather Lake, the first of the lakes. I approached the water’s edge to look around before setting off once again. From that point the trail would ascend and descend as I made my way between each of the lakes along my journey. I glimpsed another lake and decided that it was obvious how the name Emerald Lake had been derived when I saw its intense green colour. Then I reached the sign that informed me I had actually been looking at Aster Lake.

Sequoia NP - Aster Lake
Sequoia NP – Aster Lake

Continue reading 17 Days to WSER: Pear Lake

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Sequoia NP - Alta Peak View Panorama

18 Days to WSER: General Sherman and Alta Peak

The biggest draw-card at Sequoia National Park is the boast of containing the largest tree in the world. My run on day two in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks would be all about size.

After camping up at Mineral King on my first night I started day two by driving 25 miles back along the one-way road I had driven down the previous day so that I could re-enter the main section of the park. I entered and drove my way through the park to the Lodgepole section of the park, which contained a visitor center, campsite, store and some food outlets. I arranged a campsite for the night, sat down for lunch, and then set out for my run. I ran straight out of the campground onto the trail that connects Lodgepole with the Giant Forest area of the park, setting out from an elevation of 6500 ft (2000 m).

I reached the General Sherman Tree after 2.5 miles (4 km) of running. It is the largest tree in the world in terms of volume. It is not the tallest, widest or oldest sequoia tree but it contains more wood in its trunk than any other tree. It was an impressive sight, but after circling around it and snapping some photos I continued on since I still had a long way to go.

Sequoia NP - General Sherman Tree
Sequoia NP – General Sherman Tree

That part of the park is very heavily trafficked, and I left the General Sherman Tree along the tarred Congress Trail, before being able to divert my way onto the untarred Trail of the Sequoias. I was heading south through the forest, and as soon as I left the tarred surface I found myself on my own, seeing only four groups of people for the remaining 22 or so miles (~35 km).

At the southern end of the forest I reached the edge of a canyon, turning onto the High Sierra Trail to traverse my way around the canyon. I made my way around the edge of the canyon past the stunning Eagle View, before reaching the turnoff that would direct me to my main target for the day: Alta Peak. Although relatively low considering that the Sierra-Nevada Mountains contain the tallest peak (Mount Whitney) in the lower 48 states of the US, Alta Peak (at 11,000 ft or 3,300 m) would most likely be the highest elevation I will reach on my travels within California.

Sequoia NP - Eagle View Panorama
Sequoia NP – Eagle View Panorama

Continue reading 18 Days to WSER: General Sherman and Alta Peak

Sequoia NP - Franklin Lakes Panorama

19 Days to WSER: Mineral King

After my week-long stay in Yosemite I had overnighted at a motel in Fresno and then set out early in the morning for my next camping and running adventure aided by the National Parks Service. My next stop would be Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which are separate parks that are managed as one entity. I had researched the running within the park and would need to relocate my base to visit the different interesting areas for my runs. I had loosely planned out four days of running.

I travelled to the south of the parks to enter through Sequoia National Park and would eventually exit to the more-northerly west exit. My first visit was to the visitor center just inside the park to gather some information. After listening to the two groups in front of me explain to the ranger that they would be visiting the combined parks for a single day and didn’t want to walk too far, I went up and started off by informing him that I have as much time as needed and would like to travel as far as possible. We chatted about some options for the different areas of the parks, and then I headed off to commence day one.

I started day one by heading back out of the entrance I had just arrived through to enter a little visited section of Sequoia National Park. Turning off the major highway you proceed 25 miles (40 km) down a rough and windy dead-end road to arrive at Mineral King in a little over one hour. I first visited the Cold Springs campground, selected one of the numerous empty sites, setup my campsite, and placed all of my food and toiletries in a bear locker. Then I put on my running gear and went to pay a visit at the lonely ranger station located across the road.

It was already mid-afternoon, and when I advised the ranger of my destination he was quite surprised that I could fit it in until I explained that I would be running. He advised that some afternoon thunderstorms had been forecast and that I should turn around if lightning looked likely. I thanked him and headed off.

There has been a problem with marmots destroying cars by eating through cables and hoses when parked at the particular trailhead I needed to start from, so I ran from the ranger station back to the campsite and then followed a roughly 1-mile trail to the trailhead. The trailhead was located at 7,500 ft (2,200 m) of elevation and I would climb to over 10,000 ft (3,000 m) in order to visit Franklin Lakes.

I expected to be walking most of the ascent to the lakes but surprisingly found the gradient of the trail to allow me to gently run most of it, with only short stints of walking up the steeper sections. Each time it looked the weather might be worsening I would experience a break in the clouds and it would then appear that maybe it would clear.

Then when I was less than a half mile from my turnaround point some heavy clouds came in and precipitation started. Unluckily it was in the form of hail. I ducked behind a rock and took off my pack to water-proof my phone and car key. I then put on my rain jacket in preparation for a return journey, thinking that it is time to turn early even though I was so close to my destination. But as I put my hydration vest back on I realised that not only had the hail stopped but another clearing in the clouds had appeared. There were no other ominous clouds in sight so I decided to continue to my planned destination.

A few minutes later I arrived at the lower of the Franklin Lakes. I was a bit disappointed to notice the concrete dam at one end of the lake. I had driven 25 miles away from civilization and then run another 7 miles further down a canyon only to arrive at a sign of humanity. It still was a nice view so I took a few photos and then decided to make my return journey before some persistent bad weather did arrive.

Sequoia NP - Franklin Lake
Sequoia NP – Franklin Lake

Continue reading 19 Days to WSER: Mineral King