The first stop on the .08 mile loop is the “Fallen Monarch, ” a thousand-year-old Sequoia Tree that is more than just a big old log lying on the ground. The Fallen Monarch has lived through different periods of history with a unique past. No one knows when this giant fell but is was hallowed by wildfires so that when it fell, it became a tunnel that you can walk through. We do know that a couple brothers who were loggers….the Gamlin brothers found shelter in this tree. It served as temporary housing for them from 1870-1872 while they were constructing their cabin not far from the Fallen Monarch. Soon after the Gamlin brothers moved into their new cabin the tree became a gathering place and soon became the local saloon and hotel with table, chairs and even a homemade chimney that extended out the tree’s bark. Later in 1876, the chimney was used as a cookstove and the trunk of the tree as the stables for 32 horses of the US Cavalry.
The General Grant Tree has a volume estimated at 46,608 cubic feet, weighs over 1,250 tons, is 267 feet tall (the height of a 24-story building), and has a diameter at a base height of 29 feet. The General Grant Tree is young by sequoia standards at around 1,700 years old and is still growing thicker. The General Grant Tree is the world’s third-largest tree (General Sherman Tree is the largest) with the broadest base diameter of any sequoia at 40.3 feet. The General Grant Tree is a significant tree for all of America. In addition, to being “The Nation’s Christmas Tree,” The General Grant Tree is a national shrine in memory of the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and fought and died to keep America free. The General Grant Tree is America’s only living shrine. The tree is of course named after Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious Civil War General, and America’s 18th president”.
As you continue up the trail you come to the Gamlin Cabin. The cabin is over 140 years old and has been reconstructed and relocated three times. “The cabin was built in 1872 by Israel Gamlin, who with his brother Thomas filed a timber claim to 160 acres within the Grant Grove. They lived here until 1878 while grazing cattle in the mountains. After General Grant National Park was established in 1890 the cabin was used as a storehouse by the U.S. Cavalry who patrolled the park until 1913. Later it became the quarters of the first park ranger station”.
Next on the trail loops is the Centennial Stump. The Centennial stump has a diameter of 24 feet and an interesting history. “This tree was cut in 1875, and a 16-foot section was sent to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Only the outer shell was exhibited, the parts being reassembled after shipment. Eastern people refused to accept the exhibit as part of a single tree and called in a “California Hoax”. It took two men nine days to chop down the tree. Its upper trunk is the scarred log downslope from the Grant Tree. Ladies from a nearby logging camp used to conduct Sunday school services for their children upon the stump”. The “California Hoax” was a sad finish for the 1,800-year-old tree, it would be 14 more years before the grove received permanent federal preservation as a national park”.
Today was my day off from work so Jill (the market and gift manager here at Grants Grove) had decided to go see the movie about Elton John called Rocket Man in Clovis. In the meantime, we had two new J1 young men who had arrived to work here from Turkey……Cim and Demir. Nhmet who is also from Turkey had already arrived and has been working in the lodge for a couple of weeks. They are between the ages of 18 and 21 and are living in one of the cabins where I had first lived when I got here. They also have no transportation to get around, so we took them with us to town so see the movie, go grocery shopping and had dinner.
Rocket Man was a great movie……anyone who grew up listening to Elton John music through the ’70s, and ’80s will appreciate this movie. Elton John was an amazing, talented musician and singer, he was very eccentric and flamboyant, but when you see this movie and grasp an understanding of his childhood, the craziness of being a star and those who took advantage of his weaknesses and his fame brings the music he sang to a whole different level of understanding about music and his life. So if you get a chance to see it, you should. I do not think you will be disappointed.
So what is a J1 and why are they here? In essence, the J1 is the J1 Summer Work and Travel (J1 SWT) visa which allows 3rd level full-time students completing degree level courses work in the USA for 4 months between May 15th and September 15th. Participants can opt to travel for a further month (up to October 15th) depending on the reopening date of their college and SEVIS compliance. The J1 SWT is also a cultural visa and all participants are required to undertake as many cultural activities as possible during the summer. J1s are hired to work in many of our National Parks to help fill the staffing needs over the busy summer/tourist season.
As I mentioned Nhmet, Cim and Demir are all from Turkey and attend the University in Istanbul and are majoring in Engineering. Nhmet and Cim are pretty quiet and they do not speak English well. Demir is 21, speaks English very well, is very social, very educated and knowledgeable. It was very interesting to talk with him as we went about our day and the differences in our cultures. Shopping was overwhelming for them and us…..so many choices of foods and the fact that in Turkey they do not have much processed food, they don’t have the big shopping centers and grocery stores as we do, they have small markets everywhere. Most people in Turkey do not have cars as they are very expensive…..Demir said most girls won’t date you if you do not have a car, because having a car means you have wealth. He lives in a high rise flat, they have mass transportation…..bus, train, etc he said. After two hours of shopping, we were exhausted but we all wanted to relax and get a bite to eat before heading back to Kings Canyon so we opted for Apple bees where we could sit down and where a variety of food options were available. Demur really liked the place, thought it was very nice. Nhmet and Cim ended up not eating….they do not eat Pork and so there was a discussion with the waitress whether various foods were all cooked on the same grill, which they were so they choose not to eat as they were concerned that whatever they ordered would have come in contact with Pork. Demur chose to try a hamburger which he liked……he had a very candid discussion with Nhmet and Cim about trying new foods. After making the hour and a half drive we finally arrived home at 10:30 PM. I quickly put away the few groceries I had and went to bed. It was a fun day.