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Day 6: Mariposa Grove

One big tree

We ventured to the south end of the park today in search of giant Sequoia trees.  Mariposa Grove is a cluster of thee giant conifers; I stress the adjective giant.  At an average height of 250 feet, these Sequoias are related to the giant Redwoods found in northern California.  In an effort to avoid the dramatic, I’ll simply say these trees are big – REALLY big.

The “Grizzly Giant”

The giant Sequoias are old.  Many mature trees have survived just about anything Mother Nature (and Humans) could throw at them.  Over the course of 3000 years, these bad boys have seen it all – snowstorms of the century, wild fires, lightning … you name it.  Their secret weapon is the bark, which can be as thick as two feet; natural protection from the elements protecting the otherwise fragile tree core.If you’ve ever seen any of the giant Redwoods, these trees are not as tall, but their massive bulk drafts the Redwoods.  We chose to visit the largest of three groves containing about 500 of these beasts.  It isn’t uncommon at all to find mature trees with a base width between 15-25 feet.  BTW, I’m not talking circumference – these bad boys are huge.  The biggest of the all in Yosemite is the “Grizzly Giant”.  Depending upon who you believe, this Sequoia has been chilling in Mariposa Grove somewhere in the 1800-2700 years range.  Believe it or not, as big as this guy is, there are at least 25 other Sequoia which are confirmed larger.

All in all, the grove is pretty cool.  I’m not sure I’d go back, but definitely something I would recommend.  Visitors have two options in exploring the grove:  Hike the six miles of trails and really see the ins and outs of the park, or ride the open-cap trolley along the grove’s road and pass by the “celebrity” Sequoia trees – just enough to capture a few highlights for the camera.

We walked.  I’m glad we did as we saw a lot more of the grove than those who rode the trolley.

Putting these into perspective. I am 6ft, 2in tall.

Big trees come with big cones

What happens when a tree is blocking a planned road

What happens when a tree is blocking a planned road

Upon exiting the grove, we stopped for a quick lunch at the Wawona Hotel golf course clubhouse (yes, golf course).  We had hotdogs and then it was time to get back to the campsite.

Later this afternoon Chris and I paid a visit to Camp 4, a tent-only campsite that became notable after WWII as a hangout for rock climbers.  Today, I recommend you visit Camp 4 whenever you wish to hear statements like this: “Dude, that second pitch was gnarly; I got so spanked.  And those crimpers … they are stupid, I was smearing like crazy … and what about that cruz … so phat”. 

Beyond the local lingo, there is also foul wave of B.O. in the air.  Consider yourself forewarned.

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