Orlando Bingles’ Western Adventure: Day 12

by Bingle on Jun.13, 2008, under Richard Bingle Family

Today was the day that Alyssa had been looking forward to the whole trip, horseback riding!

I was too heavy to take the mule ride down into the Grand Canyon or to go horseback riding in Yosemite, but we had found a place within Sequoia National Park that would accommodate me (as long as their wasn’t too much snow still or that it wasn’t raining heavily).

We got up early and started our drive from Selma to the parks and it became obvious almost immediately that we were not going to have a nice sunny day. The mountains were socked in with clouds.

Giant In The Fog

We stopped at Grant’s Grove to see the giant sequoias there (pretty eery seeing these huge trunked trees in the fog) and then started up the forest service “road” toward the stables. The road was paved (thankfully) but was only about a lane and a half wide. I was relieved that we encountered very little traffic coming the other way as it was winding its way up the side of the mountain and the clouds made it difficult to see very far ahead. Then it started to snow!

When we arrived at the Horse Corral Pack Station, we were greeted by the owner, Charlie, who noticed that we really weren’t prepared for how cold it was up on the mountain. We all had sweatshirts and jackets over our t-shirts, but didn’t have any gloves. Charlie offered the girls sweatshirts to wear over their jackets and cotton work gloves to keep their hands warm (he gave me his gloves and he wore a pair of leather work gloves instead.

They already had our mounts saddled and ready to go when we got there. Alyssa was to ride Carmen, Amber was given Francis (actually a large mule but Amber didn’t mind), Ashley got Mack, Karen was assigned Beauty, and I was to ride Lady (a Clydesdale!).

Pony Express

We soon set off up the trail with our guides, Jack (leading) and Charlie (following). We climbed a trail through the trees up the mountain and before long we were seeing snow drifts along the trail and soon afterwards fresh snow in the pine trees. We climbed for about an hour until we reached a fresh snow drift mostly blocking the trail. We stopped here and Jack and Charlie walked a bit ahead and when they came back were discussing our options.


The trail ahead was snowy and the recent rain/sleet/snow had made our other choices too boggy and wet, so it was back down (roughly) the same way we had come. Alyssa had controlled Carmen herself on the way up (and only had a problem once), but opted to have Jack lead Carmen on the way back down (I think her hands were cold).

Man And Beast

We arrived back at the stables to a roaring (and welcome) bonfire and hot beverages (and lemonade). After warming up for a bit we started the slow drive back down the forest service road to the main road running through the park. The weather was still not the best, but we decided we might as well drive a bit further to see the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman Tree, before we left the park. They apparently had recently put in a new parking area for the grove that required a half mile walk (with an almost 300 foot elevation change) to get to the base off the tree. Once we made it back to up the hill to the van we were pretty warn out, so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel in Selma.

Next stop, Yosemite!

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