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Our campground was located pretty much on the border of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We woke slowly and had a leisurely breakfast, then headed out to see Kings Canyon. 

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As we approached the visitor center, we saw a sign for a church service in the park.  We were only 5 minutes late so we ran down to join them in worship.  It was pretty neat to be able to join with other believers in worship, right there in the midst of God’s creation.

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After a stop at the Visitors Center, where all 4 kids earned their junior ranger badges, and one child spent some of her birthday money on a stuffed animal black bear which she named Sequoia, we headed down to the canyon.

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We had a picnic lunch at Grizzly Falls… which technically wasn’t in either park, but was in some sort of protected area in the middle of the two.  As we were walking up from the parking lot, my 6 year exclaimed in wonder, “Wow… a real water fall… like for real!”  I think it was his first time seeing one. We all enjoyed eating our picnic lunch while watching the water fall and of course climbing on rocks.

 

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If I had to describe our day in Kings Canyon with one word, it would be “fun.”  We took a very leisurely hike around a meadow with the canyon towering above us.

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The kids greatly enjoyed climbing on rocks (or doing pull ups on them).

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We’d stop to climb and jump and find new routes up the rock, then hike some more.

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Every time we would spot a large rock, we’d hear, “Hey Dad, can we climb that rock?”  And of course once they figure out how to get on top one way, they each scramble to find a more difficult way  to get on. They are all quite fascinated by the sport of rock climbing.

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Clearly, they get their fascination for this from their father, not their mother (I would sit on a nearby rock and fret).

IMG_0460  Me Fretting

 

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After climbing and hiking, the kids were quite excited to spend some time playing in the water.

 

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My 10 year old had a complete blast building damns, and then making holes in the them and then tracking the flow rate by using pine needles…. I loved watching her mind work.

 

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Nothing like an afternoon splashing in the river to bring out their smiles.

 

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Be still my Momma heart… one thing Scott and I have remarked on during this trip, is how he is still very much our little boy.  Sometimes I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness of life and maybe lump the kids all together in a group… this time away together as a family, has reminded us that he is still our little 6 year old.  Sure, he isn’t a baby or a toddler anymore.  But, he is still very much a little boy.  And it has been fun to savor that.

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It was in this river bed that we spotted another wildlife to add to our every growing list this vacation.

 

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The evergreen tree that wanted to be a saguaro cactus.

Our 12 year old captioned this photo, “My mom said I could be anything I wanted and I chose a cactus.” 

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On our drive out of the canyon, we stopped to see another waterfall.

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And here is where Scott showed great love to me. He totally wanted to jump off this rock and into the water and he was so ready to do it.  Except I begged him not to.  And even though he felt it was totally safe and would have had a blast doing it, he lovingly and selflessly kept his feet planted on the rocks.

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The drive out of the canyon and back to our campsite was really pretty.

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We got back to our campsite before sunset (a rare thing for us on vacations). We actually watched the sunset from our camp site and then roasted hot dogs over the fire for dinner.

 

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We arrived at Sequoia National Park around 2:00.  We had a picnic lunch, stopped by the Visitors Center and headed off to find some big trees.

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We took a 4 mile hike in the late afternoon, that as of this point, goes down as my favorite hike of the trip.  We started in the populous area of the infamous General Sherman. 

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Then we hiked the Congress Trail. 

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20160723_170722  The youngest decided this would be his picture pose

 

As we hiked along, reveling in the big trees surrounding us, we saw some people stopped on the trail in front.  They had spotted a bear!

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We stood and watched in silence while the bear happily frolicked around, ripping the bark off logs and eating bugs and leaves.  It was amazing. 

 

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It was so cool to see such a big wild bear, though it didn’t seem so big against the backdrop of a giant sequoia.

 

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We then continued on our way, stopping for more pictures with the big trees. 

 

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Then ahead of us, right after this picture was taken,

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we spotted ANOTHER BEAR!  MUCH CLOSER this time.  In fact, he was ON THE TRAIL ahead of us… maybe about 30 feet away.

 

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Thankfully, we were with another family of four, so the 10 of us made a rather large group.  We stood and watched in excited silence.  He was on the trail so we weren’t really sure how we would get passed.  It eventually (after a long time) meandered off the path and we walked quietly and quickly as a group and passed him.  It was that combination of super awesome and freaky all at once.  Incase anyone was wondering, this is the face I make when walking past a bear while hiking.

 

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Shortly after we reached a fork in the road.  Our new bear companions were continuing on the Congress trail, we were heading off on the Alta trail.  The Alta trail was incredible.  No longer on a paved path, we were walking in the woods.

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We didn’t come across another human (or bear) for the rest of the path.  It felt like we were in another world.  Scott kept imagining what it would have been like to be an Indian living in these woods hundreds of years ago.  Since the Sequoias are about 2000 years old, we were walking beside the very same trees the Indians would have walked among. 

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IMG_0234When we finished our hike and headed back to our van, we were the last car in the parking lot.  When we had parked there hours before, we were in overflow parking with cars upon cars looking for a place to park.  Now, we were alone.

 

We then set off towards our campground, but we were all ready for some food.  We found a market near a visitor center which was just about to close.  When I ran in while Scott and the kids parked, they took the order in front of me and said, “Last order”, and turned me away.  But when Scott came in a few minutes later, he asked if there was any chance they could serve us anything, they obliged.  What a blessing!  We happily chowed down on some chicken sandwiches and tenders (we said we would take whatever they had that was easy), just thankful to have dinner.   Then we drove on to set up our tent in the dark. The stars were beautiful.  Walking to the bathroom, we spotted the big dipper between the tall trees.  It was gorgeous.

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We had had a wonderful time in Sequoia National Park.