Rollin had decided he didn't want to just do "touristy" stuff...he really wanted to explore the park. He read about Monarch Lakes which is about a 9 mile round trip hike, but you have to drive to the Mineral King Ranger Station to start the hike. Okay, no big deal. So we slept in on June 2nd and didn't leave our campsite until around 9 in the morning...that was a mistake, we should have gotten a MUCH earlier start. Rollin had read it's about a 45 mile drive to the trailhead. Okay, no big deal.
The first 21 miles is a drive down a mountain ridge into the valley. We dropped significant elevation and the road was pretty curvy and made me a little nervous. I started thinking, okay this drive could take a little longer than we thought. I think I anticipated we could cover the 45 miles in a little over an hour.
We drove into the valley and turned on the road to the Mineral King Ranger Station knowing it would be 25 more miles up a neighboring mountain ridge. But this road was not like the road we were just on. This road made the other road seem super nice. This road was NOT a two lane road. It was a narrow paved road and was even more curvy than the previous road. You had to be careful turning the corners just in case a car was coming the opposite way, there was not room for two cars to drive by each other. On this road Rollin could only drive 20 mph.
By the time we made it to the Mineral King Ranger Station it had been 2 hours and 15 minutes since we left our campsite and almost 11:30 in the morning. At this point it seemed a little late to start a 9 mile round trip hike when in the mountains there are occasional afternoon thunderstorms. I was feeling pretty frustrated at this point but trying to stay positive. We walked into the ranger station and Rollin started talking to the ranger about the hike we wanted to do. At one point the ranger said, "You know about the marmots, right?" Uh oh. The ranger went on to explain that at this time of year the marmots in this area LOVE climbing up underneath cars and chewing on the hoses and electrical wires. People bring big blue tarps, lay them flat on the ground, drive on top of the tarp, and then wrap the tarp upwards over the car making it impossible for marmots to go underneath the car.
Great. Great. Great. We drove to the trailhead and got out of the car. We looked up at the ridge we'd be hiking up and saw one little marmot sitting on a rock staring at us, waiting for us to leave so he could chew on our car cords. There were four or five other cars and only two of them were wrapped in the tarp. We parked our car farther away from the ridge thinking maybe the marmot would go to the cars that were closer, ha! We decided that the marmot couldn't chew on the car cords while it was still hot so we decided to hike up for an hour and then come back down. We didn't get to Monarch Lakes, but the area was still pretty! Then we began the two hour drive home. Poor Rollin, his calf muscles were KILLING him by the end of the drive from holding his foot over the brake pedal.
When we got back we walked around some trails in the Giant Forest Museum that displayed these gorgeous sequoia trees. We decided to get up really early the next morning and beat the crowds to hike up Moro Rock and see the General Sherman tree. Then we came back, made breakfast, packed up, and headed to Yosemite!
|The first Sequoia we saw as we entered the park!|
|Our campsite. We camped at Lodgepole Campground and loved it. Notice the bear box? We had to put EVERYTHING that had a scent in it to ensure we did not attract a curious black bear to our site or make it want to break into our car!|
|Rollin is clearly lost in his thoughts.|
|Here's the drive down into the valley like I mentioned in the story above.|
|Curvy...but after being on the other road, this road seemed so nice. I mean, this road had guardrails whenever there was a lot of exposure. There was nothing on the other road.|
|I never want to drive this road again. Ha!|
|It's incredible how old these trees are.|
|Mineral King Ranger Station|
|Trailhead. Notice those cars?|
|And there's that little marmot that was just STARING at us when we pulled up.|
|But to be honest, 30% of me is glad we did this drive, because look at that view!!!!|
|Driving back down that scary road.|
|When we made it back we went to the Giant Forest Museum and walked through the sequoia trees.|
|Rollin was so happy to see black bears. We saw a lot of them!|
|Back at camp.|
|Got up early to hike the Moro Rock trail. We had it completely to ourselves!|
|It was cloudy so we couldn't see the mountains.|
|We saw 7 black bears within 30 minutes. The perk of getting up really early in the morning.|
|This is the biggest tree (in terms of weight and volume) in the world!|
Time to go to Yosemite National Park!!