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NateKat · March 2013

March 2013

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2013.

For Presidents’ day weekend we decided to take a trip somewhere snowy that we could do snowshoeing or cross country skiing. We decided on Sequoia National Park since it is not too far of a drive, has plowed and accessible roads, and has some great trails through the Sequoias.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any fresh snow in the past couple weeks so skiing wasn’t really possible and snowshoes were not entirely required since we had our Microspikes.

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But there was definitely enough snow to make the trip worth it and transform the park compared to our earlier visits in the summer. On our first day we visited some of the popular sights including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree (by volume) in the world. Generally in the summer this area is mobbed with people and you have to wait a long time to get your turn with the tree. But in the winter, you can actually get a shot without anyone!

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This year we opted out of camping on the snow and got a hotel room just outside the park.  The drive in and out of the park is long and windy, but the view at sunset was worth the drive.

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On our second day we did a short hike to Tokopah Falls (3.8 miles) that we realized along the way we had actually done once before. It was a different experience in the snow though, and the falls were more impressive this time around. We also enjoyed the icicles and stream views along the hike.

Tokopah Falls

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In the afternoon we decided to do a short hike to Sunset Rock to, as you’d expect, watch the sunset.  It’s a easy 2-mile round-trip hike through the forest and then it empties out on to a giant flat rock overlooking the canyons and of course is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

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We hiked back to the car using our headlamps and then drove down the road to Round Meadow to wait for the stars to come out.  Earlier in the day we had picked out a sequoia tree that was singled out enough to make a good silhouette star photo.

(Click on the photo for full screen view, the stars are more visible)

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The next day we spent a few hours hiking the Congress Trail, which passes through some impressive sequoia groves properly named The House and Senate.

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After this trip we’ve exhausted the main park attractions and probably won’t return to this area of the park for a while.  But we do plan on doing some more exploring in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park this summer… we got permits for the classic Rae Lakes Loop for 4th of July.

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Back in February we took an afternoon to hike the famous Vasquez Rocks seen in Star Trek, Friends, Power Rangers, Outer Limits and many other tv shows and movies.  The unique rock formations were caused by the San Andreas Fault and erosion of the San Gabriel mountains.

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We started the hike late in the day and covered 3 miles in 90 minutes to return to our car before the gate closed.  The rocks are very accessible from the parking lot and don’t require a lot of hiking, but we wanted to hike along some of the higher ridges to get a better view.  We climbed on a few of the rocks, but didn’t have time to scale the large peak.

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The people on the left give a sense of scale of these giant rock formations

Along the path there are also a few clearly marked pictographs.

Although it was a quick hike, it was a good warm up for the many hikes and backpacking trips we have planned for the year.

 

Late January my parents visited for my brother’s birthday so we used the opportunity to also visit the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. The learning center is a small wildlife way-station that has taken in many animals due to injuries or illegal pets.  We took the deluxe tour with a personal guide allowing us to touch and interact with some of the animals.

My brother feeding a N. American Porcupine

There were 5 porcupines in the enclosure and they seemed very curious and friendly, but they made us nervous as they crawled around our feet.  We got to feed them and they were very cute standing on two feet and grabbing the food with their hands.  I could see how people might think they would make good pets until a loud noise startled one and he pulled back the soft quills exposing the razor sharp ones…not cool.

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We also got to hold an owl, which was pretty cool.  I wish we could have let him fly, but i don’t think he was able to because of an injury.

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We also got to touch a sloth, desert fox, flying squirrel, and various reptiles!

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The deluxe tour made the visit worth it.  The facility is pretty small in comparison to some of the large zoos in the area, but the hands on interactive approach was worth every penny.