The Sierra Nevada
Yosemite was where we started our travels in the Sierra Nevada, central California’s impressive mountain range. I am unable to find adequate words to describe Yosemite so I will quote a man who spent his life preserving this wild area.
“No Temple made with hands can compare with the Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer or nearly so for thousands of feet, advance beyond their companions in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, seemingly aware, yet heedless, of everything going on about them.” -John Muir
Our first day in the park we spent quite a bit of time admiring the view, it’s pretty hard not to! Our second mission was the Mist Trail, which loops up and around 2 impressive falls. We reached the first, Vernal Falls, after many gruelling steps and were rewarded with stunning views from the top. I was inclined to call it a day but was convinced to carry on to Nevada Falls, another steep 4 mile climb, cause after all, you can’t come to Yosemite without climbing something huge. So we did, and it was pretty amazing.
We camped in the park and the next morning walked out to mirror lake, not so much a lake but a swampy bit of Tenaya Creek. It was still lovely though, and a nice easy stroll after the previous day! Our second stop was the Yosemite falls, the highest in the States.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the El Cap Meadow, soaking in the enormity of El Capitan and searching its walls for climbers. Yosemite is a truly amazing place, one of the most impressive I have ever been to.
Our next stop was Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, a little further south. We had expected closed roads in Washington and Oregon this time of year, but have been surprised at how much is still closed in California. Apparently lots of national parks have had closures due to economic problems. However we were quite disappointed to learn the road into Kings Canyon was closed until May, despite the lack of snow. The Sequoias more than made up for it though.
The Giant Sequoias are beautiful and odd trees, with very red bark, stocky trunks, and often broken tops. We saw the biggest tree (by volume) in the world in the Giant Forest, General Sherman. He was impressive, and massive, really massive. The Sequoia here can live up to 2000 years and sustain damage from wildfire about every 5 years. Some of the trees have large fire scars, and it was amazing to see how their bark had begun to grow over the burnt area and heal itself.
We saw a few hollowed out logs that had been used as shelters for park workers in the early 1900’s. Sequoia can lay on the ground almost as long as they live standing. We also hiked into Crescent Meadow and saw a cabin that had been built out of a fallen tree and used as a summer home for 30 years before the area became national park in 1890.
We also attempted to be the typical tourist and drive through a tree, but alas, we were too tall.
One of the highlights of the day was climbing Moro Rock. From the top of this granite mountain we got panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada. (I say we, but I actually spent more of my time focused on the stairs and handrail than on the valley hundreds of feet below.)
Overall these parks have been amazing and we’ve loved every minute spent here. It is an area that we would not hesitate returning to.