To See a Giant

Original Post: August 11, 2015

Though we could have enjoyed the coast forever (And really, who couldn’t?), we packed up early and hit the road for Sequoia National Park to meet with The General.  (Sherman, that is.)  We were on our way early and fully prepared for hitting LA traffic in full-on rush hour.  Yeah. Well. It’s one thing to say that and another to do it.  We weren’t really prepared.

How can you be prepared for this?  See those red dashes?  That’s a delay.

Los Angeles traffic only added an extra hour to the trip and I guess we should have been grateful for that.  It could have been worse.

One thing we discovered along the way was that most of California looks like this:

With the exception of the times it looked like this:

Or like this:

Seriously – weird, grassy, rolling hills or orange orchards or vineyards.  That was it.  I’m certain there must be more to California than this, but in all the miles we traveled (from San Diego to the Redwoods) this was, more or less, what we saw.

We reached Sequoia National Park at three in the afternoon and headed straight for the world’s largest tree. But first, a massive downpour.  It was hard to imagine that California was in a drought when the view through our windshield was hardly visible at all.

When we finally got to into the park and had our first views of Sequoias, our jaws dropped.  There is nothing that can prepare one for the sheer mass that is a few-thousand year old Sequoia.  They are awesome in the true sense of the word. The gorgeous rust-hued trunks are not what you would expect.  I put my hand on one and expected to feel a tree trunk (duh, right?), but I was shocked to feel a soft texture, almost spongy.

We made our way down the path to General Sherman, and while he was not the most gorgeous specimen, he was regal nonetheless.  There was a line to take photos next to him.  Dutifully, I stood in line so that Nate could get a picture of me with the tree, but no camera could really capture the stunning presence that these trees have.  (So go see them in person!  You won’t be sorry!)

If Sequoias can convince Nate to hug a tree, they can convince anyone.

We made our way to Lodgepole Campground, which was, hands down, one of the best sites we booked on the trip.  The park ranger who checked us in quickly reminded us that we were in bear country and that just the night before, they’d had to shoo away a black bear from the campgrounds.  This made me somewhat nervous, as I’d booked a campsite on the outskirts of the grounds.  Oh well.  You only live once, right?  And that’s what bear boxes are for.

The campsite was perfect, and right next to the Kaweah River (which was more like a creek at that point in time) and you know exactly where Nate went.  Fishing, of course.

The native brook trout, though tiny, were feisty and Nate caught several.  Since they weren’t used to people, Nate discovered that some stealth was required to catch them.  If they saw you, they were gone…  

Of the woods, Sequoia National Park was one of my favorites.  It’s a long and windy drive to get to (But unlike the Rockies, there were guard rails and stone walls!) and it’s a hike to see General Sherman (although there is handicapped access available), but it was worth every second. 

And we managed to avoid a bear encounter.  Woohoo – that’s two for two in bear country!  Safe!