49th Annual TCMG / ARR Conclave

October 7-9, 2005, Sequoia, California

On October 7, 2005, 18 MG TCs, one TA and a bunch of modern cars (some even British!) made their way to Sequoia National Park in the Western Sierra Nevada Mountains. This was the 49th consecutive meeting of the TC Motoring Guild, based in Southern California, and the Abingdon Rough Riders from Northern California. Both are MG TC specific clubs and both are now over 50 years old. The groups meet each year, alternating between a coastal location and an inland one. This year was inland and Sequoia was chosen.

I joined up with the southernmost caravan near Castaic Lake. Seven TCs and a couple moderns set out on the 250+ mile journey to the mountains. We decided to take a less scenic route than originally planned because we were already off to a late start. It seems one of the cars had an oil leak, go figure! Once on the road, our route took us up Interstate 5 through Gorman and over the Grapevine, and descending into the desert before turning west up Wheeler Ridge Road (route 184) through Bakersfield, and Highway 65 through Weedpatch (yes, Weedpatch) and into Porterville for lunch. If you’re ever passing through Porterville, I highly recommend eating at Black Bear Diner. You won’t find more friendly service anywhere.

Leaving Porterville, we headed north and made one last stop in Exeter for fuel. There would be no more fuel for two days so we filled ’em up to the top! Heading out with full tanks and ice cream cones, we headed due west straight into the Sierras. The next 50 miles would be straight up into the heart of the mountains. The interesting part of this drive is watching the change in the scenery as you go from desert to sage, then oak and grassland, on to aspen groves, then pine trees and finally Giant Sequoias and fern as you pass over 7,000 feet in elevation. Our destination was Wuksachi Lodge just off the General’s Highway. Once there we met up with the other caravans and settled in.

Our Saturday started with a drive to Crystal Caves with about a dozen other TCs. Unfortunately they didn’t have any tours available until later in the day so we drove on to see the General Sherman Tree. If you’ve never heard of the General Sherman tree, it’s the largest living thing on the planet! It isn’t the tallest and it isn’t the widest, but it is overall the largest in mass. A one-mile round trip hike was enjoyable in the brisk morning alpine air, and driving off even the TC didn’t seem to mind the thin air up this high. Good, I didn’t want to have to tweak my SU carbs anyway!

Next we went to hike up Moro Rock, an enormous rock outcropping hundreds if not a thousand feet high and right at the edge of a mountain ridge. At the top you are afforded spectacular views in all directions from the Great Western Divide to the East made up of 14,000-foot peaks devoid of any vegetation or life, to the canyons west of us where we drove in some 4,000-feet below our feet and nearly straight down. The hike was fairly strenuous but well worth the effort.

Leaving Moro Rock we drove on to “Tunnel Log”. This is a 275-foot tall Sequoia which fell in 1937 and now has a tunnel cut through it’s 21-foot thick base. We stopped for photos and discovered that you can fit two TCs side by side in the log with room to spare!

We toured through the forest in small caravans for the rest of the afternoon, sometimes stopping for hikes through the forests and meadows or to see the visitor’s centers. Our day ended with a group dinner and then much drinking and talking in the lodge. What a great bunch of people these are!

Sunday was for a group photo and goodbyes. Of course the only complete group photo was of the cars themselves, but that’s the most important thing anyway, right? As we all headed out we broke away into smaller and smaller groups until ours was down to seven for the long drive home.

We had some adventures along the way but they hardly seem worth mentioning after the incredible time we had in the mountains. Finally we made it home and scraped all the bugs off the car before putting it to bed in the garage. This was the first big trip for our TC and after such an amazing experience it will surely not be the last.