Monday, May 26, 2014

Sequoia National Park 2014

My "Summer in the Sierras" officially kicked off this Memorial Day weekend with a two day trip into what may be one of my new favorite national parks.  Well, top three for sure next to Glacier and Zion.  I'll have a better gauge once I visit a few more and end the season with a highly anticipated trek through Yosemite. Anyways, back to Sequoia.  In my opinion, this place is grossly underrated among the NP hierarchy and certainly deserves a closer look.  For me the excitement began from the moment those snow-capped peaks were visible from the valley below.  In one day I went from 300 feet above sea level in the town of Visalia to over 11,000 at the summit of Alta Peak.  In between I passed through numerous climatic changes and biomes only found in the Western Sierras.  Within that small geographic space lives a giant; the General Sherman. It's the world's largest living tree and truly magnificent!  Impressive as it is, there are hundreds more in a matter of miles that dwarf even the largest redwoods, being in their presence is really quite a humbling experience.

I did mention peaks, right?  Sequoia National Park has several of those, many well over 12,000 feet within sight of the Generals Highway.  The grandest of them all, Mount Whitney, is 60 miles away though still in the park boundary.  The High Sierra Trail will take you there if you're willing to venture into the back country on foot (with a permit of course). Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, topping out at 14,495 feet and the second most ultra-prominent next to Mount Rainier. From the largest scale to the smallest, Sequoia has a little bit of everything.  There are tranquil streams to relax and read a book by, plenty of picnic areas, bird watching, accessible trails with stunning views, endless trail combinations from easy to strenuous and enough photo opportunities to drain a fresh set of camera batteries.  Any national park is bound to be busy on a holiday weekend, other than the main road, the park wasn't all that congested. I certainly found solitude on the trails, well, other than the 5 bear encounters in those two days.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them.

Generals Highway

Nearing 6,000 ft

Some of the first Sequoias
One of 5 black bear sightings
Behold the General Sherman
Big Trees Loop

Giant Sequoia Museum

Tunnel Log
Tokopah Falls Trail
Tokopah Falls
Western Sierras from the Alta Peak Trail

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