Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meadows, Rivers and Falls....Nature Therapy!

On our recent trip to Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks, we chose one place or direction to go each day to explore. One of those days was dedicated to driving into the part of Kings Canyon where the Kings River flows. It was the most spectacular and beautiful day of our whole week.

A portion of Kings Canyon National Park is in the section of mountains with Sequoia National Park.  That is where Grant Grove, the Princess Campground that we stayed at, and cooler temperatures can be found during the summer...due to the higher elevation.  There's beautiful forests, giant trees, and meadows.  It's beautiful. 


But, to me, the most amazing and best parts of Kings Canyon are down in the actual canyon where the Kings River flows.  The road winds around, hugging the side of cliffs, thousands of feet above the river.  The further you go, the closer you get to the river and the higher the canyon walls rise above the road.  This canyon is actually one of the deepest canyons in the United States with a maximum depth of 8,200 feet.  That's deeper than the Grand Canyon which is 6,000 feet deep.


The rock walls are incredible!  The trees are beautiful!  And, the river...it is beautiful beyond description.  All we could say as we drove past sections of it was....Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  It was the prettiest river I've ever seen.  Unfortunately, the most beautiful sections were along the road with no turnouts or places to stop and take pictures. The rocks were perfectly situated to create an endless number of small waterfalls as the water flowed and tumbled down the canyon.  It was gorgeous!  The canyon is very narrow for long sections of the drive.  That adds to the magic...a gorgeous river, a winding road, enormous rock walls that echo the sound of the water...and...it was overcast the morning that we drove up which cooled the heat of the sun.  Oh...and to top it off...I brought along an amazingly delicious cup of coffee I'd made back at camp...sort of a vanilla latte with a dash of cinnamon....Yum!

The water flow isn't anywhere near what it would be if we'd had normal amounts of snow and rain.  But it was still strong and treacherous enough to make it very dangerous to enter.  
We saw a lot of warning signs.  

There's something about flowing water that makes me feel sooo good. 
And, just look at all the beautiful colors...


There were waterfalls tucked in little side canyons along the way.  And, there were turnouts and parking lots for bigger ones.  The first waterfall stop we made was at Grizzly Falls.  It was popular and I had to point my camera above the people to get shots of just the waterfall.  Pretty!...



To get an idea of the size of this waterfall...notice my daughter near the right side,
bottom of the photo (you can click on it to enlarge the photo)...


There she is again...in the bottom right corner....


The next waterfall we stopped at was Roaring River Falls.  From the parking lot, there is a paved path through the trees and past sections of a river with tall rock walls on either side.


The path ends at a lookout to the waterfall.  It may seem small but it looked and sounded very powerful in person.  So much so that the pool below it and the river just beyond looked quite dangerous and more signs were posted warning visitors not to enter the water.



The green color of the pool below is pretty.


We sat and soaked in the beauty, the peacefulness and the magic of the falling water.  Ahhhh!


Near where the canyon road ends, there's a parking area, picnic tables, and a 1.5 mile trail around Zumwalt meadow.  It starts out along a river and leads to a bridge...



Over the river and into the woods we went...


The views from the bridge were so pretty!  I love the colors of the water and rocks...


The trail started out rather flat but the south side of it climbed up and over rocks...


It was good exercise and lots of fun!


Once we crossed over the big boulders and rocky sections, the trail entered into a forest on the eastern end of the meadow.  The path became shady and gentle. 


We rarely saw anyone on the trail.  So Pretty and peaceful.


Delicate fern carpeted much of the forest floor...


We saw fungi growing on some of the trees...


And, a happy, healthy squirrel munching on something in a tree overhead...


My eyes just couldn't get enough of this...


Beauty all around!  Here's a glimpse of Zumwalt meadow...


The narrow canyon with high rock walls are oriented in a similar direction to Zion Canyon in Utah...one of my favorite places.  And, they both have a river flowing through.  The colors and scenery are very different but both are incredibly beautiful!


More pretty colors in the water...we even saw some wild trout
swimming around in the shady sections...


Zumwalt Meadow...


Ahhhhh....what an amazing day!  Peaceful and filled with
some of the most gorgeous nature I've ever seen!


It even calmed the hyper me so much that I bought a book at one of the visitor centers, went back to camp and actually read!  I usually can't settle down enough for that.  It's amazing what a little nature time can do!  I even finished the book before the trip was over!  The book was, "Women of the Sierra" by Ann Seagraves.  A fascinating look at the lives of 13 women from the mid 1800's to the turn of the century that had a big impact in the Sierra Nevada Mountain area.  I highly recommend it.  The author has several other books within the same subject that I plan to buy and read...maybe during a future visit to the Sierra. 

2 comments:

Sandra said...

your camping is my cottage. You have the advantage of ever-changing beautiful landscapes, I have the advantage of familiar surrounds, that are also beautiful. One of these days, I hope to experience what you have, but not right now. Now, we are heading off to our slice of heaven for a week, and I can't wait!

vicki said...

Cheryl-- these photos are magnificent. You had the greatest hike-- what a great experience. Beautiful scenery!!!
Vicki