From the top of the massive, granite monolith of Moro Rock I gazed out over the sparkling, snowbound wilderness of the High Sierra. Along the skyline stretched the saw-toothed crest of the Great Western Divide rising above the swathe of bottle-green conifers covering the rugged hillsides. Across the deep, dark canyon of the Kaweah River soared the angular buttresses of Castle Rocks. Far below the contorted zig-zags of the mountain road wound up through the chaperall scrub of the piedmont into Sequoia National Park.
Retreating down the incredible staircase hewn into the spine of the great block of stone I ploughed my way back through the deep, soft snowdrifts among the towering, red-trunked sequoias. A fallen giant enabled a better appreciation of the enormous size of these ancient conifers. Nearby, I inspected "General Sherman", a sequoia some 2,500 years old and the world's largest living entity with a diameter of 36 feet and height of 275 feet.
On the previous day I had started my springtime tour of California by driving north from Los Angeles across Tejon Pass and climbing into the mountains to encamp in the pleasant meadows and forests of Buckeye Flats. Notices warned of the dangers from marauding bears. All food had to be stored in the metal lockers provided.
At the ski-shop at the road-head of Wolverton Meadows I hired a pair of snow-shoes - to be my first experience. There were only a few other visitors around in the off-shoulder month of April.
Following a signposted trail through an enchanting winter wilderness of snowbound, woodland glades alive with birdsong and the chattering of squirrels I reached the lookout point of Panther Gap. Far below Moro Rock protruded above the tree-tops.
Continuing up through forests of tall fir and pine on a steeper snowslope the metal claws on the snow-shoes proved as effective as crampons. Eventually I cleared the timber-line to reach a rocky promontory for a fine vantage point to appreciate the sparkling, springtime beauty of the surrounding High Sierra resplendent in bright sunshine beneath azure skies. Only a short distance higher loomed the serrated summits of the Great Western Divide. In summer the John Muir Trail can be followed across the crest to reach Whitney Portal, the roadhead in Owen's Valley on the opposite side of the Sierra Nevada.
The descent on snow-shoes proved somewhat more tricky than the ascent but they had more than proved their worth in enabling my foray into the winter mountain fastness of the Sequoia National Park.
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