First off I would like to thank those that gave me some advice on riding Sequoia. Ill add a small camping report at the bottom if anyone is interested. I'm only doing so because of my wive's misadventures.
Our mini vacation was to last from Tue. to Thur. so in order to take advantage of the full first day we left El Monte at 2 a.m. The drive was very easy at that time, mostly because my wive's aunt drove and we slept. It took about 4.5 hours to get there so that put us at Potwisha campgrounds at 7 a.m. The first day there we spent hiking and I'll go over that in the camp report at the bottom. On the second day we rode.
We left our site at around 8 a.m. on Wed. packed and ready for an awesome bike ride, and Sequoia did not disappoint. Right of the start I could tell that this was going to be an epic ride. Not so much the intensity, but the beauty of it. There were birds everywhere and a small type of tree was in full bloom with a very beautiful purple-pink flower. It was like riding in a Disney cartoon. The weather was cool and crisp with a really mellow sun shine in the clear sections and a earthy coldness under the giant trees. The river that runs next to the highway was in full spring flood and was an awesome sound track to the intense first section of the climb. Everything was green and lush and the birds where in singing.
There were signs on the road that said it was about 8% grade about 1.5 miles into our ride and a few more along the middle of it. I had decided before we even left our home that I would take it easy. Both to be able to appreciate the beauty of the park and to allow my wife a comfortable pace. We were traveling at about 4.5 miles most of the time. I figured that would be a good pace so that my wife could do the whole ride. We did the first 8 miles were both fun and a challenge, for Denise at least. Then we arrived at the construction site. I had been thinking about this for the entirety of the ride because I was afraid that we would be turned around. I was pleasantly surprised when the worker driving the pace truck said to put our bikes in the bed and jump in. I asked the fellow holding the slow/stop sign when they expected to finish and he said that they are on schedule to be done mid summer. The construction was about 3 miles long and slow. I Once we got off at the end of the construction zone I could smell trouble.
My wife was fading and I could tell. She had a Clif shot and off we went. She did well for another 2.5, slow, miles and she started fading fast. I rode side by side and tried giving her a bit of support with my hand on her back and it seemed to help but I knew that we needed to get to the Giant Tree Museum fast. It seemed like every foot was a struggle and she was trying her hardest. We took several stops after we got off the truck and Denise ended up having 2 more energy gel packets. The progress from Crystal cove was slow and, for Denise, painful. At one rest stop we had a ranger pull up and ask us where we were riding from and when we told her she congratulated us. She said that she lives at the foothills and had never done the ride herself. I think that gave Denise a big moral boost and we pushed on. We had the rest of our family coming up the mountain to join us at the museum and every time we heard a car approaching us from behind I could see her perk up in the hope that it was them. About .2 miles from the museum Denise had had enough and when I looked back at her I could tell she was about to cry. We took one more break and, like angels from heaven, her aunt arrived. After just having seen, and misread a sign that said 2 more miles to our destination Denise gave up. She got a ride with her aunt. I kept going and around, literally, one more corner was our real destination, the Giant Tree Museum.
It took us about 2.5 hours to climb up to the museum, we looked a the the giant trees and then moved on to the General Sherman part of the park. We took pictures and admired the beautiful trees. I personally appreciated the fact that these wonders are still around, and that the roads are there for us to reach them. I arrived a bit earlier to the General and while I waited a family asked me to take pictures. I had just seen my wive's cousin take really good pictures by laying on the ground to get the most of the impossibly tall trees in the frame, so I did the same. Big mistake, I ended up taking pictures for 5 different groups. I should have charged. After a quick lunch with our family I headed back down to our camp site. It was so much fun to descend the General Hwy. The only down side is that since much of the road is windy I was traveling faster than any car and eventually got stuck behind a large caravan of Rvs and cars. A minor annoyance at worst. I was back in our site in 28 minutes.
I would recommend this ride to anyone thinking about going to the park. It's not any more difficult than Azusa or GMR in my opinion. So amazing and as someone mentioned before, you appreciate the hugeness of the trees and forest so much more when you sweat to see it. Oh and our phone died about half way up the ride so sorry, but no Strava stats.
We stayed at Potwisha campground, which is apparently open all year. It is first come first serve and $18 a day. We arrived at around 7 a.m. and quickly got a big surprise. There were deer all over the place. It seemed like they were always in groups of 3. A mom deer and it's 2 fawn. We saw deer every morning and every night we spent there. At one point we saw a group of, give or take, 10 deer including one male with small antlers. Right next to the camp site there are 2 hiking trails one to the giant trees, and one to Marble Falls. We decided to try our luck at Marble falls. On a info board adjacent to the Marble Falls trial it said was about 3. 7 miles long, it felt considerably longer than that. We spent about 5 hours hiking to and from total. When we got back to our tent my wife asked me massage her back because her shoulder felt sore. Denise complained about this soreness all day and when we got back from our ride on Wed. and changed I found out why she was sore. She had a giant blood sucking tick buried into her back! She already hates bugs and can't stand them, so you can imagine how she freaked out when I told her there was a bug half way into her shoulder. She cried and cried and freaked out because "it's so gross". After what felt like an eternity we were able to get tick out, but not with out ripping the head from the body. Another half hour and a ton of picking from her aunt and we removed the last part of the head.