29 November 2008

Let it snow

Thursday morning, we woke to snow.

A white Thanksgiving.

Of course, it didn't feel like Thanksgiving because I wasn't cooking anything. I was sitting in the lodge dining room, looking out on white-frosted pines, eating oatmeal, a roaring fire keeping us all a little too warm.

We'd driven up to Sequoia National Park on Wednesday in horrendous weather. By the time we left, fairly early in the morning, we'd gotten nearly 2 inches of rain at our house. I worried about the drive through the Grapevine; weather there is capricious at best and CHP tends to close the freeway if a snowflake is spotted. Traffic through the Grapevine is usually bad anytime, but all bets are off the day before a holiday. While we only had to contend with rain, the traffic lived up to my worst expectations, and we saw no fewer than 3 accidents as we traversed it, one involving a Jeep precariously perched atop a K-rail, and pointed the wrong direction.

Although the expected 3 feet of snow didn't materialize, Sequoia was beautiful. As I looked out the window of our room in the Stewart building, I spotted a coyote that had just spotted something interesting (and probably edible) in the snow near the parking lot. We watched with great amusement as Wile E. leaped and dug for whatever had caught its attention.

After breakfast, we took off to explore. In Wolverton, as the sun briefly peeked out, the pines and shrubs glittered and flashed with the snowmelt hanging from their branches. There was just enough snow on the ground for the daughter to make a tiny snow person.

We headed down to the museum, where there are several trail heads. Since it was early in the winter season, a lot of trails were still open. Usually, we visit the park later in the winter, when everything is snow covered and iced over. Since the trail was accessible and reasonably easy, we decided to do the 3-mile round trip to Moro Rock. The trail was quiet, and we saw no one but hungry deer. We kept our distance, giving them plenty of room to wander past us. It began to rain just as we hit the final approach to the rock, and we decided to forego the actual climb up to the top of the dome since it was completely shrouded in cloud and hiked back to the museum where we had an arctic picnic at the car.

Thanksgiving dinner was back at Wuksachi Lodge's dining room, where they served up turkey and gravy and all the proper stuff. Everyone agreed that it didn't taste quite right because I hadn't cooked it (canned cranberry sauce. Horrors!), but the family decided it was ok that I have one Thanksgiving off.

(I will be cooking a proper turkey and all the real stuff tomorrow.)

We spent yesterday exploring a bit of Kings Canyon, and then today, after we'd packed up and checked out, in glorious sun, we decided to climb Moro Rock.

While the elevation gain is only 300 feet, at that elevation, it feels more like 3000 feet, but the view from the top was spectacular and more than worth the small climb.

From below, it was hard to believe that only an hour earlier, we'd been on top of the world.

Go listen to some good music: "Let It Snow," lyrics by Sammy Cahn, composed by Jule Styne.

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