A few Days Among the Giants: Our Trip to California's National Parks...
Sequoia Kings and The Yosemite
This past summer (June 22'), my wife and I, along with some of our dearest friends (Jason and Charity Palmer), had the chance to spend a few days in the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. We were traveling to Southern California for the annual meeting of Southern Baptists, and we decided to stay a few days after the meeting and head north to the parks. It was a great decision, and a trip that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Even now, Jason and I often speak of that week together and the experiences we shared. It was meaningful and impactful primarily because it combined two of our favorite things: Friendship and National Parks.
After a good few days in Anaheim (which has its own beauty and incredible weather), we departed a little before 5 am Thursday morning, hoping to beat the Los Angeles rush hour traffic. We mostly succeeded and made it from Anaheim to Sequoia National Park in about 4 hours. The drive itself was scenic and beautiful. Our first stop was Sequoia National Park.
To our surprise, it was a 40 minute drive from the entrance the Park gate to the Sequoia grove, which stands on top of a mountain. The drive from the entrance to the trees was incredibly steep, climbing over 3000 feet in just a few miles. Some of our party thoroughly enjoyed the drive…and some didn’t.
Anyhow, we eventually arrived and were greeted by the four guardsmen (four-1000 year old sequoia trees).
The experience was majestic and overwhelming — these trees are the largest trees in the world (Not the tallest, but largest in sheer volume). It is nearly impossible to describe their size and presence without being there yourself. To be in their presence is majestic. They seem to be from another world. Here are a few facts about these wonderful trees…
They are among the oldest living trees in the world, some exceeding 3000 years!
They are really tall — the tallest is equivalent to a 26 story building.
They are the widest trees in the world — some of their trunks measure 35 ft across!
The largest sequoia, called the General Sherman, is said to be 2100 years old, and contains 52,000 cubic feet of wood. That means that one tree weighs almost 3 million pounds!
We spent the day exploring the Sequoia grove, visiting the General Sherman, and then we hiked the beautiful Tokopah Falls trail. A trail that spans a few miles to Tokopah waterfall, which is guarded by the majestic rock formation called the Watchtower.
We shared the day together among the giants as friends, taking it all in, commenting on the fleeting nature of life and such experiences, and thoroughly enjoyed that shared moment of our lives.
We finished the day at a local restaurant and crashed at our AirBnb.
-The next morning, we departed early once again in order to maximize our time in Yosemite National Park. I happened to look a few days before our trip and noticed that you had to have a reservation in order to get in, and thankfully, I was able to snag one! We arrived at the park around 9am and had an absolutely overwhelming experience.
The first thing that greeted us was the cold! It was the middle of June, and the air temperature was in the upper 40’s. So, we parked, found the gift shop, and promptly purchased Yosemite Sweatshirts and coffee!
Our plan for the day was to hike the Vernal Falls trail, so we made our way to a nearby parking area, and after searching for a bit, found a spot! (National Parks are really busy!). We packed up and set out on our hike.
The trail itself is a 4.0 mile round trip, but we ended up putting in closer to 6! It was breathtaking and majestic to say the least; entirely overwhelming!
Afterwards, I learned that we stopped well-short of what we could have hiked (Nevada Falls, and on up toward Half-Dome), but even still, the experience was something the four of us will cherish for a lifetime.
We saw the iconic Yosemite Valley View, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, and more.
And, to our surprise, we learned that there is an entire community of people living in the valley, complete with a post office and Federal court!
If you have a chance, make sure to check out the Free Solo Documentary about Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Cap! It’s on NatGeo.
We saw the mountain in person, and we are still in disbelief.
-We have all remarked that we cannot wait to return to these parks again! So much more to see, and so much more to take in!
The hike, the views, and the friendship were all awe-inspiring and filled us up with a sense of God’s goodness and grandeur in the world. If this sinful, broken world can be this beautiful, how much more will heaven be! I can scarcely imagine…
The week definitely left a lasting memory in our hearts and minds. Yosemite was the perfect conclusion to a magical trip. It was a special week for which we give thanks unto God; it was a special gift of His grace to us.