Kings Canyon & Pinnacles National Parks

December 27-30, 2017
The High Peaks Trail is very steep in places, basically goes up and
down rock staircases.  If you think I am crazy for taking a
5-year-old on this trail, think again...  here's a Dad taking along his
6 month old!  And the 6 month old is just sleeping away lol  And the
prizes of this hike are stunning views and... endangered California
Condors!  We saw 8 of them flying very close overhead!  Here are
two videos of them flying as well.
We took advantage of nice stretch of beautiful
warm winter weather to go on a road trip to the last
two National Parks on the West Coast that my son
had not yet visited.  Kings Canyon National Park is
especially important to me as it was where I had my
first federal job (not internship) as a Park Ranger!
These first photos are of the Fallen Monarch Tree, a
huge hollow sequoia that is a tunnel that you can walk
through. In the past, this tree was used as a house, a
hotel, a saloon and stables for the U.S. Cavalry... A
single tree!
General Grant is the second largest tree on Earth.  It is
also the world's only living shrine and designated as the
Nation's Christmas Tree! We spent a long time at this
viewpoint while T did his junior ranger book.  I absolutely
adore this tree, and apparently it runs in my blood... scroll
down for photos of my Dad and Grandpa at the tree in
about 1951!
T told these kids that were picking up pine cones that
they should pick up trash instead - he's not even six yet
but he knows his Leave No Trace principles! Here's a
video of him receiving his Junior Ranger Badge - the first
place I was a real ranger :)
Hume Lake, above
Kings Canyon, below
He fell asleep with his pika stuffed animal :)  Now it's his
favorite animal!
Turkey Vulture and almost full moon at Pinnacles National Park - we saw tons
of wildlife here!  And T did his longest dayhike to date, 6.1 miles up the
Bear Cave Trail, passing under the Monolith, and looping up and around the
High Peaks Trail.  This trail climbs 1,600', so I was very impressed that he
was able to hike this far.  The key is starting early in the morning, a very
scenic trail, and taking lots of breaks and snacks :)

Besides the Monolith, this is my favorite part of the trail.  This
trail was built masterfully by the CCC's in the 1930's.  We met a
backcountry ranger here who has hiked with Toejam, who I
backpacked with in the
San Rafael Wilderness!

Video of T getting his Junior Ranger Badge at Pinnacles NP

My last trip to Kings Canyon back in 2006

My last trip to Pinnaacles back in 2003

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