When I think of mountains, waterfalls and scenic rivers, Yosemite National Park still rules. But let me introduce you to another area of our mountains that has its own picturesque mountains, waterfalls and scenic rivers.
I’m speaking of Kings Canyon National Park. Under three hours one can drive from Oakhurst following highway 180 into the park to Roads End for another wilderness experience.
Once you pass Cedar Grove Resort on Road 180 this two lane road opens to deep canyons and tall mountain peaks. Actually this mountain road follows the Kings River as it descends from the higher elevations.
This year the river is flowing to capacity cascading over huge boulders and recreating those falls hidden by five years of drought.
I set up my base camp at the Centennial Campground next to the Kings River. Two reasons for this location - one was its central location to nearby trailheads - and two to join the deSeriere family which many family members I haven’t seen for more than 12 years.
Many of the young family members were active hikers to which we had something in common. The following morning Andy deSeriere, Jeff deSeriere and Robert Bertran and I departed for the Mist Falls Trailhead.
I had to reach back into my reserve energy to keep up with these young hikers. This four mile trail to the falls would compare too many of those wilderness trails in Yosemite.
After a half hour of trekking along a level trail we entered a forested area and started our increase in elevation. With the record snow fall last season it reflected itself in this South Fork of the Kings River. Numerous water falls were on display from this rare event from nature.
As we increased in elevation distant views of this remote canyon came into view. Looking back into the gorge over two miles behind us this raging water cut an immense canyon before flowing into the main Kings River.
After another 30 minutes we arrived at Mist Falls. Photographing these falls was very difficult at a close distance, because the spray covered ones camera lens before tripping the shutter. but with the added run off from the enormous snow pack made the day special. A misty halo surrounded the falls and created quite a photo opportunity.
Later that afternoon we stopped by the trailhead to the Roaring River Falls. I’ve seen these falls on my maps from previous years when searching for the crash sites of those five P-40 aircraft that crashed in 1941.
Today I’ll witness another personal highlight of Kings Canyon. Even though today was a lengthy eight miles hiking the Mist Falls, another half mile should pass easily. Yes I was impressed; these falls are higher than the Mist Falls with its water cascaded over the shelf’s creating these enormous falls while dropping to a pool below.
The following day I followed the main Kings River down-stream. Debris from the high water came to rest along its banks. Today the water was above normal and violent, not even advisable for those kayaking or rafting. A few weeks ago this trek would not have been possible because the water level was much higher and more violent.
Not only were the treks following the rivers exciting but the time spent with friends whom I haven’t seen for over a decade was a double reward. I have to tell you that the children I knew 12 years ago, today have grown up and I was impressed with their awareness of our nation’s future.
Is that a sign that time passes quicker than expected? Even though we can’t stop time, but we can keep searching for adventure within our California mountains. They will be waiting to pose for your camera to share those next unforgettable moments.