California Vacation 2011: Moro Rock Madness

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After our first full day in SEKI, we returned to Three Rivers and settled into the best hotel option close to the park. Finally, a good night’s sleep. We slept in a little to make up for the night before, and then cleaned up to hit the complimentary breakfast.

Breakfast was swamped, and we once again had to deal with people who either didn’t care or didn’t realize that they weren’t the only human beings on the planet, let alone in the room. Not the start to the day we were hoping for. We encountered more of the same at the gas station en route into the park. After dealing with more rudeness, Jason and I decided we had had enough. We returned to the hotel, took the early check-out fee, grabbed our bags, and got the heck out of there. We called our hotel in San Francisco and were able to get in a night early. We only had a couple things left to see in Sequoia, and first up was Moro Rock.

Moro Rock

Just a shuttle ride away from the Giant Forest Museum is Moro Rock, a large granite dome at a 6,725-foot elevation. 400 stone steps take you to the top of this huge rock.

Climbing Moro Rock

Climbing Moro Rock

No joke, I was terrified. The stone steps have been built along the edge of the rock, so there’s only a metal railing separating you and a nice little drop┬á ­čś»

You would think that people in such an environment would be observant and polite. If this is the case, you would be wrong. I don’t know what scared me more – the exposure on the side of a mountain or the stupid people who were everywhere. We managed to make it to the top without major incident.

The face of fear.
Top of Moro Rock

Mountain Views from Moro Rock

The infamous under-construction road.
Looking Down on the Foothills

Looking Down on the Foothills

There was no way I was going out there…
Top of Moro Rock

I didn’t move around a lot up there, and both of us were happy to start our descent. And that’s when things got interesting…

I know enough about hiking etiquette to know that you give the right-away to descending hikers, as gravity is working in their favor. On a related note, the steps are broken up into multiple flights with small landings scattered throughout, making it possible to go up and down a basically single-file staircase. Not that I expected anyone else to adhere to proper hiking etiquette, but I did hope that people would be aware of their own safety and the safety of others.

Jason and I were a quarter of the way down the rock at best, with me following behind him. We were halfway between landings when another hiker rounded onto our flight of steps from the lower landing. And he really didn’t care that we were there. With room for only one person to be comfortably on a step at one time, we were on a collision course.

I watched in horror as the other hiker pushed past Jason, without even feigning to turn sideways. Jason quickly turned sideways himself, gripping onto the railing.

I was scared. I was mad. I was done.

We decided to skip Crescent Meadow, even though it was one of our best chances for spotting a bear. Honestly, we almost skipped seeing the world’s largest tree. The fear of regret stopped me though, and we quickly hit up the General Sherman Tree. If we had visited SEKI and not seen that tree, it would have been ridiculous.

Jason and I tried very hard to not let other people ruin our experience. However, we encountered people who were actually blocking us from having an experience.

Now that we would have more time, we hoped for better in San Francisco…

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5 thoughts on “California Vacation 2011: Moro Rock Madness

  1. Ingunn

    Sorry you had so many bad people experiences on this trip!!

    Actually (at least here in WA), the people hiking *uphill* have the right of way (but I often step to the side when I’m ascending as an excuse to stop and catch my breath). I guess hiking etiquette differs depending on your local community, plus people have different comfort levels – what seemed scary to you could be something the passing hiker is used to, so it might not have occurred to him that others would be uncomfortable.

    1. Laura Post author

      Oops! My bad. I thought I had read somewhere that downhill had the right-away. In all reality, Jason and I yielded practically the whole time. We yielded to those coming down as we were going up, and we started yielding to those going up after the scary run-in.

      Either way, the man who passed did so a little too rudely for my taste. Even if we would have been comfortable, his behavior was out of line.

  2. iris

    I’m with Ingunn on this one. When I was hiking a portion of the AT, my thru-hiker friend scolded us “weekend-hikers” when we didn’t yield to the person going uphill. Furthermore, I ran a quick Google search of ‘hiking etiquette ascending descending yield right of way’ and found a few more results to support the descenders-yield-right-of-way-to-ascenders rule.

    Aside from the one guy who nearly pushed you guys off the edge, it seems to me like everyone else throughout this trip was just doing things that endangered themselves…You seem to be severely affected by this, and I’m wondering if perhaps you’d have a better time if you could somehow let other people’s behavior affect you less? I mean, they clearly couldn’t care if you/strangers were there or not, so maybe that’s an attitude you could adopt?

    Anyways, the photos look gorgeous! I really like the distant haze.

    1. Laura Post author

      I thought I had read somewhere the downhill right-of-way, but it could have been from more of a weekend hiker’s blog (which is what I am). We wound up yielding both ways anyway. It’s just our style.

      In talking with other friends who have lived elsewhere in the country or who have just traveled around, we’ve all had the same issue. From the best we could tell, it’s a Midwestern thing. We just seem to have a different way of being here. I guess it’s just a regional culture and a set of Midwestern values that are ingrained.


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