Written by Samantha Rober, Photography by Jon Pierce
Sequoia National Park, home of the largest living tree. Surrounded by beautiful, tall and wide Sequoia Trees, one is bound to gaze into its beauty during any time of year. Directly next to Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks are mainly wilderness and only accessible by foot. (Please note, like many national parks Wilderness Permits are required for overnight trips.) Jon and I had wonderful and lengthy hikes planned for our time at Sequoia, only to be surprised by a rodent chewing through a wire under our car at our campsite..this changed things quite a bit. Rest assured, this did not deter our fun and admiration of all Sequoia has to offer.
Recently relocated to Southern California from New England we were having serious Fall withdrawals. Where could we go to see leaves changing from green to warm tones of orange, yellow and red? When the sun goes down and you wrap yourself in cozy sweatshirts as the chilly air breezes in the wind? Easy answer! A few days later, we were a little North and a little East from our warm beach town at the Foothills campground, Potwisha, in Sequoia National Park with our backpacks ready to take on the trails (the next morning!). We quickly set up our tent and headed out to catch a touristy glimpse of Moro Rock. A short and very trafficked trail brings you out to catch a glimpse of the Great Western Divide. Two happy campers ready for our weekend among the trees. Back at camp we cooked up some dinner, roasted some marshmallows and got some sleep, excited for our 12 mile journey the next morning.
As we woke before the sun peeked over the mountains, we packed up and cooked some oatmeal. We hopped in the car to make our way to the trailhead..until we noticed some hazard lights come on the dashboard. Great. We spent 4 hours that morning trying to find cell service or any car service place possible. Tough go. We finally contacted the car dealer and they said we should be okay but take it easy. I’m not going to lie, I was crushed. I was sad and frustrated that our grand hiking plans fell through the crack because of a car. How ironic. But...what can you do except roll with the punches. Luckily, Potwisha campground is a first-come, first-serve campsite, so we hunkered down in a site and headed off for some day hiking.
We started off at the visitors center with no particular destination in mind and charted off into the woods. While not the wilderness, per say, being in the depths of skyrocketing trees bursting with warmly shaded colored leaves was just as good. As we were turning corners with glimpses of sun streams coming through the Sequoia trees we were stopped in our tracks by a baby black bear walking on the trail coming our way. A few heart racing moments with eyes locking with the bear, the two parties assumed best to turn the other way and we both retreated. A group of rowdy kids were a bit behind and scared the 2 cubs and mama bear off, so we continued on our way swerving around creeks, and trees. Making our way by foot to the General Sherman Tree, perhaps the most popular spot in the national park for day visitors and non hikers. The General Sherman tree is the largest tree in the world, measured by volume. 275 feet high and 36 feet wide (at its base), it’s a pretty hefty Sequoia. Quite astonishing and a site to be seen, however, we preferred the giant Sequoias in the woods with 100% less people. Just something about being in a quiet forest among nature’s purest forms that make the magic of National Parks and outdoors that much more special.
Before heading back home on the last day, we journeyed out for an 8 mile hike that began at the Potwisha campground. For what felt like endless miles, we reached an incredible waterfall with a pooled body of water you could swim in. A bit chilly and unprepared we simply enjoyed the views, hopped on some rocks and headed on back so we could begin our 6 hour drive. I’d love to call this hike uneventful, but never-the-less a TARANTULA was hanging in the middle of the trail. One thing you may need to know.. I am terrified of spiders. I realize the irony here of loving the outdoors and being scared of spiders. Thisthing was massive, you could see the little hairs on its body and legs. Naturally, I froze and basically walked around the drop off of the mountain to go around the spider. Well, I’ll never forget that moment.
To recap: We saw a total of 5 black bears, a tarantula, and some animal chewed car cables at our campground. Sequoia.. Success! It goes without having to be said, we aren’t done with Sequoia. Looking forward to getting back to this park and out into the actual wilderness!
Read more from Sam & Jon's 'Life on the Move' here.
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Hiking in winter offered me the feeling of being truly alone without feeling lonely: a feeling a lot of people can identify with right now.
Seasonal depression is real and practicing self-care is important now more than ever. Going on a hike in the winter is a great way to get endorphins flowing and get out of the house. Not to mention there’s no bugs, no crowds, and more views on trail; don’t let the winter scare you away, rather, embrace it and have a good story to tell.
Covering those four miles an hour seemed like a distant dream. I moved at a pace dictated by the desert. The quicker you moved, the more you slipped about. It could be agonizing. This was a discomfort unique to the desert, one that I knew well from previous sandy sojourns in the Mojave and White Sands. My twisted mind invited the discomfort in. Let’s tango, desert.
My pack was stocked to survive three days in the backcountry. Though there were a good amount of clouds in the sky, the sun somehow found a way to shine through. And my skin found a way to chafe in the only place the sun don’t shine. My feet felt the burning heat from the sand through my lightweight trail runners. My calves punished me for subjecting them to such a rigorous sandy workout.