Return to the Sequoias

Added on by taylor reilly.

After touring Grants Grove, we set out to explore Sequoia National Forest’s, Hume Lake District where I worked as a Wilderness Ranger in 2009.  Danielle and I, started off by driving to Buck Rock fire lookout, perched high on Buck Rock over looking the forest and Kings Canyon. When we arrived, Kathy the fire lookout was working that day.  Kathy was the fire lookout at Buck Rock in 2009, where she oversaw the Jenny Lakes Wilderness, where I was a wilderness ranger.  She was our guardian by radio and the reigning eyes and ears over our wilderness.  When we went into radio silence on the backside of our wilderness she was the last person to hear our voice and know our location.  Fire lookouts like Kathy, not only protect and look out for Wilderness Rangers, but they are guardians for the entire forest.  From search and rescue, to fire, to weather, fire lookouts have a 24/7 responsibility to sight and respond to any incident in the forest for public users, agency employees, and firefighters.

After saying goodbye to Kathy, we drove to the Big Meadows area at the base of Jennie Lakes Wilderness. I had thought about us taking an overnight or two-day hike into Jennie Lakes Wilderness, which is more than beautiful, but the High Sierra in Kings Canyon was calling me.  I had never hiked up Kings Canyon into the High Sierra even when I worked in Sequoia, and Danielle had never been there at all, so I thought that it would be the best place for the both of us to go and experience something new.

Before driving to Kings Canyon, we drove to the overlook at Lookout Peak, at the end of Big Meadows Road where we could look into the wide vast canyon from the South and see the Great Divide to the East.  We noticed a giant fire scar in Summit Meadow from 2 years prior.  Summit Meadow is downhill from Jennie Lakes Wilderness and the Horse Corral back down Big Meadows Road.  This fire could have potentially made its way into Jennie Lakes where fire suppression becomes more difficult due to Federal National Wilderness Preservation System Laws and the difficult terrain alone.  The Horse Corral is also at the edge of the Wilderness where the owning family and workers live and manage over 100 horses and mule.  These horses and mule are used for single-day and multi-day trail rides into Kings Canyon NP, Sequoia NP, and Sequoia NF for the public, and for Park and Forest Service Rangers and wildfire fighting personnel, equipment, and materials hauling.  The fire would have been a tragedy to the Wilderness and the Horse Corral to say the least.

Danielle and I stopped by and spoke with the Horse Corral owners for a few minutes.  They are very nice people and took really good care of my Wilderness Ranger partner and I when we walked out of the Wilderness every 4-5 days by feeding us tasty home cooked meals.  It is not uncommon for the couple to cook meals for up to 100 firefighters depending on the nearby forest fire activity.  After thanking them for taking care of me in the past, and saying goodbye, Danielle and I headed towards Kings Canyon.  We did not have an exact plan except to backpack in the High Sierra and climb the valley walls of Kings Canyon National Park.  There was a beautiful new wilderness that awaited both of us.