The gift shop was too small to occupy us for long, and the museum displays were only so so. But I did pick up this bit of information: the giant sequoias in this park are the world's widest trees. The redwoods, found in northern California near the coast, are the world's tallest trees. And bristlecone pines, found in Nevada and a few high elevation places in California and Utah, are the world's oldest trees.
The bark is very dry and corky and at least a foot thick. When I hugged it, I came away with slivers and dust poking through my shirt and scratching me. Not to mention the many spider webs in the bark crevices.
The thick bark shields the tree from fire, so the big trees survive a lot of fires. Many have impressive fire scars.
When all 50 of us sat in a circle for the obligatory lights-out plunge into total darkness, a Japanese man who didn't understand English took advantage of the break to scroll through all the pictures he'd taken. Which distracted us a bit from total darkness. An American man snarled at him, "Cameras off! Cameras off!" Our guide said, in a soothing voice, "No judgements, now. No pressure." The Japanese man was still scrolling, all unaware of the restless natives. When the lights came back on, the guide gave us a little talk about going out into the world to do good works for the environment. He made me think back to the 1970's and Earth Day and John Denver. Very gentle and earnest. But the tour was good, because he presented much more in-depth science information than you usually get on a 50-tourist cave tour.
Another expensive, delicious dinner in the lodge and we called it a night.
Next morning, bright and not too early, we headed to the Tokopah Falls trail. Even less early because we passed a really good gift shop on the way to the trailhead and took a few minutes to shop.