May 8-12 — This is the land of the giants – Giant Sequoia trees, that is. And wow, are they giants; some of the largest living things on earth!
Sequoia National Park is one of three national parks found in the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range that runs some 400 miles north-to-south along the eastern edge of central California. Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park are the other two here in the region and we’re visiting those next, but first: Sequoia.
As its name suggests, this park is famous for its Giant Sequoia trees which rise above their forest neighbors. Sequoias are often found in groves, and the General Sherman tree resides here in the grove known as the Giant Forest, named by the famed naturalist, John Muir.**
The General Sherman is the largest tree on earth as measured by volume, which is circumference (General Sherman is 103 feet around at its base) times height (he’s 275 feet high). He’s also the heaviest tree at a whopping 1,385 tons. This guy is ginormous, and while he’s estimated to be 2,200 years old, he’s still growing wider by the year!
Sadly, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s loggers felled many of these beauties to meet the demanding lumber needs of the day. Fortunately for us, values have changed regarding these trees and the ways we should enjoy them, and now Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP protect nearly half of the world’s remaining sequoia groves. This seems to be the geographic and climatic sweet spot of what it takes for these glorious creatures to thrive.
We enjoyed our five days here immensely (pun intended), hiking nearly 20 miles around several different areas within the park. As I highlighted in a previous post (see Da Bears), we finally had our first up-close bear sightings here in Sequoia; four groupings of them including a mama bear and two little cubs; it was really remarkable to watch them as we did. And as special treat, one of Fred’s Navy buddies [who was part of the New Years Eve reunion in Florida; see The Shipmates’ Reunion] and his wife joined us for a morning hike out to Tokopah Falls followed by lunch in the Wuksachi Lodge. It was wonderful to see Steve and meet Colleen who live in nearby Fresno and came up for the day to join us, and in spite of the overcast and drippy conditions, we thoroughly enjoyed our hike.
Adjacent to Sequoia National Park is Kings Canyon National Park; they share a border and are administered jointly. That’s where we’re headed next for more of this spectacular scenery.
So now is the time in my post when I was ready to say, as I most often do, To see some photos of our time in Sequoia National Park, hover your cursor over the photos, below, and use the arrows to scroll through the photos. Sadly, however, Flickr, the site I use to share my photos, just made a major upgrade and completely changed how they treat photo albums (didn’t they know how much that would mess me up!?!?!) so I can no longer share a slideshow of my photos within my posts. And equally frustrating, I just found this out late last night when I was ready to publish this post. We’re trying to figure out if we can continue with this functionality going forward, but for now, I’ll just have to share my Sequoia photos with these two links:
** Visiting Sequoia National Park, we are reminded of John Muir (1838-1914), famed naturalist and great champion of the American wilderness. He explored all around the Sierra Nevada mountains, and named the Giant Forest which is home to four of the world’s five largest trees. Muir was a prolific writer throughout his life, most of which was spent communing with nature. Because of his work to preserve the purity of forests and the beauty of valleys, the U.S. Congress passed the National Parks Bill in 1890, creating Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Often referred to as the ‘Father of the National Parks’, he wrote a book in 1901, Our National Parks, in which he penned, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” Amen!