Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moro Rock & Crystal Cave 7.15.08

Although groggy & a little hungover, we were up and around this morning & headed into the Giant Forest area for an 11am Ranger talk on the top of Moro Rock. Just like Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings canyon has shuttle busses where you park in one area & they’ll shuttle you from place to place. We parked at the Giant Forest Museum & rode the shuttle to Moro Rock. Moro rock is a granite dome that overlooks the deep canyon of the Kaweah River’s Middle fork. It’s a ¼ mile climb up some steep steps (around 300 of them!) to the 6,725 summit and some of the best views around. The Ranger spoke of….I don’t remember…I must have been hungover. Michael remembers him talking about the different ‘Life Zones’ – High Sierra, Conifer, & Foothills – and what grows in each zone, how plants & trees adapt to live there, & the climates of each. He also talked about some of the problems that the plants & trees were having – acclimating to the increased ozone and how it’s destroying them. It was a good Ranger talk.

This is the Sentinel Tree at the Visitors Center - 257 ft tall!!

We climbed back down the steps & took the shuttle back to the museum. There, we walked around the ‘Big Trees Trail’ – a one mile loop of sequoias, wildflowers,

& Round Meadow – a lush forest meadow.

I’m starting to believe that looking at these huge sequoia trees so often makes me lose perspective on just how large they are. I see the numbers and compare them to trees around, but it’s easy to see them as just another large tree.

We drove over to a picnic area called Pinewood for a picnic lunch & then drove back to camp as it was getting cold & rainy looking again and I was not dressed warm enough. After picking up some warm clothes, we headed to Crystal Cave, where we had a 4:15 tour. We opted for the ‘Discovery Tour’ as it was longer than the regular tour and there were only 16 people max. When our tour started – it was just the 2 of us! A few minutes later, 2 more people joined and still we enjoyed the tour with just 4 people….nice.

Crystal Cave is the only cave in the park that’s open to visitors. There is quite a hike down to the cave, and our guide pointed out all of the different plants & trees, showing us how to identify them. A waterfall at the Marble Fork Kaweah River Bridge marked the beginning of the cave

and a very cool spider web gate guarded the entrance (I asked if it had any significance…and was told it was just the whim of the builder at the time, nothing special at all.)

Inside we spent 2 hours exploring a cave with stalactites (hanging from the ceiling), stalagmites (shooting up from the floor), columns (where stalactites & stalagmites meet & merge), rushing water carving out the marble below our feet, cathedral ceilings more than 40 feet high in places, stalactites that formed in a ribbon shape that lined the ceilings and looked like curtains,

pools of water (I forget what he called them!) that looked like brain coral out in the ocean,

teeny tiny spiders that have adapted to living in the cave, underground & overhead chambers & much, much more.

We learned so much! The cave was 50 degrees and was well lit by lights & a walkway that was installed over 50 years ago! There was one room we entered where our guide shut off all of the lights and just let us experience what it would be there in total darkness. It was crazy dark – even after about 10 minutes of total darkness, we still couldn’t see our hand in front of our face, or anyone/thing else. That total darkness & when everyone was quiet and all we could hear was the dripping of water inside the cave was my favorite part of the tour. Michael loved almost everything but especially the so-crystal-clear-it-looks-blue water as it was carving out the granite and the ribbons in the ceiling. So if you’re headed out here…definitely put this on your list to do…it’s spectacular!!

The hike back up the hill was a good one! It’s a quarter of a mile….straight up! They say it’s the equivalent of climbing a 30 story building. But alas, we made it! Again, it was raining (it’s been raining all day!) so instead of going straight to camp, we went back to the Lodgepole Center and ate….gulp…chicken fingers & fries. Mmmm….junk food!! Haha…

Back at camp it was after 8pm so we read our books – Michael’s on book 2 of the Eragon series and I’ve been reading a book called “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert - in the tent until bedtime.



Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home