National Parks, seriously what a treasure! I can’t begin to tell you how important I think it is that we keep these beautiful places for future generations. Especially as technology continues to distract us, we need places that we can go to disconnect and really appreciate nature’s beauty. Speaking of technology, my plan for this short family vacation, was to blog daily with our daily experience in Sequoia National Park. To say that the internet at “The White Castle” was crappy would actually be sort of nice. After our first day of adventure I came back to the house sat alone on the beautiful balcony listening to the Kaweah River flow beneath me and wrote out the beginnings of a great blog. Unfortunately the usual saving process did not happen due to the quality of the internet provider. Everything I wrote was lost, so I took it as a sign to truly stay off the grid for the long weekend and just enjoy life. So here I am writing one blog about the entire trip.
The first day was amazing, we decided to go to the Crystal Caves, General Sherman and Moro Rock. One of the many things on my “Live Life List” (“Bucket List” sounds too depressing), is to explore an underground cave. The Crystal Caves did not disappoint. The park has over 250 caves but only Crystal Cave is open to the public. The caves are formed of limestone that metamorphosized into marble. It was like stepping into a different world and I had a hard time believing that I was not in a manufactured adventure at Disneyland. It was quite cool in the caves, around 50 degrees, even when the temperatures outside were in the mid 80s.
The next stop was General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree in the world. It is believed to be 2.7 million pounds and 2,200 years old. It grows enough each year to produce enough wood for one 60 foot tree, one foot in diameter.
The final stop on Day 1 was Moro Rock. I was a little concerned that my fear of heights might prevent me from be able to make my way out to the very end, but I persevered an it was so worth it. It is a 400-step climb to the top and I can’t tell you the number of people that looked petrified walking their way up, it was almost humorous. Once at the top the 360 degree view of the entire Park is absolutely breathtaking. We got a great family photo of those of us brave enough to go to the top.
My favorite part of this day was after we finished our descent from Moro Rock, four of us decided to run back to the car and see if we could beat everyone else that was waiting for the shuttle. We beat them by at least 20 minutes but that was because they went through the meadows and got to see two bear cubs and a momma bear. I don’t regret the run but I can’t scratch “see a bear in person” of of my “Live Life List” just yet.
Most of us decided the second day was perfect for a more difficult hike, so we took the challenge to hike to the top of Big Baldy. It is not a long hike as far as I am concerned, only about 5 miles total, but the the top of Big Baldy is at an altitude of just about 9,000 feet, so the cardio workout is pretty intense. I would say that thanks to my new lifestyle and because I have been working on my fitness with my 16-week challenge, I might be in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I wasn’t ever winded and I never got even a little bit sore. Once again the view from the top Big Baldy was spectacular!
Our final day in the Park we decided it was time to find a beautiful waterfall. We hiked the “easy” trail to Tonopah Falls which was less than 2 miles. I say “easy” because that is how the guide book described it, “easy and great for everyone”. Apparently they were not including people that just had knee replacement surgery six months ago, because if you ask my sister she would probably disagree. There was a 1/2 mile of super rocky terrain with rocks of all sizes you had to navigate to get to the end. In fact some people we passed on the way back thought it was the end of the trail because you could no longer even see the path. However up until that point the trail mostly just followed the river the entire way. Once we made it to the end we were rewarded with the biggest waterfall cascading down the granite mountainside. I don’t know what was more beautiful the water fall or the mountainside. What do you think?
Yes that’s my niece, Jayme, bravely jumping off in the river below!
Each day after we came back out from the Park and made our way back to “The White Castle” we always had plenty of time to head down to the river for some swim time.
I’ll admit I agreed to jump in the water once, but MAN WAS IT COLD! Most everyone else seemed to be fine with it, probably because it was 103 degrees out everyday in Three Rivers. But one jump in was just fine with me because I was too busy keeping an eye on my pups and making sure they didn’t get swept away in the river.
So what’s my takeaway from this vacation? Life is too short to be sitting at home, wishing you were fit enough to hike and see some of the most beautiful places you can imagine. Make little changes, honor your body and it will show you some pretty amazing things.