Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks - A Familiar Sight? (June 11-13)

The Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks were stunning in their own right, but it was pretty obvious the beauty wasn’t getting the same reaction out of us as when we were in Yosemite. Were we becoming so familiar with our surroundings that we were no longer impressed? Had the awe of what we were experiencing faded? Surely not yet! We were reminded of how being so familiar with something, anything, can eventually lead to a lack of appreciation for our experiences and the people in our lives. It was time to give ourselves a real slap and make sure that we were still truly aware of what was in front of us. We want to appreciate each experience for what it is, without comparing to any previous ones or expect to be impressed more than before. A sense of awe feels amazing, exhilarating and cn almost become addictive like a drug, before you know it you are longing for the next high. We are discovering that travel, like life is not about looking for the next high, it’s about taking every experience as it comes whether amazing, average or not so flash and getting something worthwhile out of it. Or, maybe it’s about letting go of all judgement and learning to see beauty in the unexpected places. We definitely have a lot to learn about getting the best out of our experiences. We would love it if you could engage in this conversation with us and share your thoughts. (You can comment below)

Having reflected, we enjoyed every minute of being in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, especially since this is the least visited National Park in California and fewer crowds provided a greater sense of tranquillity. Although we had already seen a number of giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite, we couldn’t miss seeing the largest tree (by volume) in the world, the General Sherman tree which sits 84m high, is 31m in circumference, has a diameter of 11.1m at the base and it’s largest branch has a diameter of 2.1m!! Again, we felt extremely small and insignificant against this enormous living thing. We saw a fallen tree called the Tunnel Log which was conveniently made into a tourist attraction by cutting a whole in the middle of it. It's now a tree trunk you can drive through which of course we did.

General Sherman Tree

Tunnel Log

We hiked the 400 steps up to the top of Moro Rock, a huge granite dome in Sequoia with 360° spectacular views. The stairway is extremely skinny (less than a metre) and hugs the rock all the way to the top. All that was in the way of a very long fall and me was a couple of steel bars which I wasn’t so keen about. I was getting no sympathy from Tim who didn’t have any problem with the walk and kept telling me ‘just do it…you’ll be fine’. And so I was! Another little experience of confronting my fear. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be held back by it, so up I went. Of course the views at the top were amazing and for the zillionth time I discovered that facing your fear is almost always worth the effort. What we saw was a sweeping view across the whole Sequoia National Park and in the opposite direction the Great Western Divide with an incredible scene of the snow capped Sierra Mountains.

The views from the top of Moro Rock

We drove to the ‘End of the Road’ through Kings Canyon on the very edge of rocky cliff faces. It was getting late and we hadn’t yet found a campsite for the night (sound familiar?). We were driving into a very remote area and hoping there was space for us because we didn’t really fancy driving out of the park again along the narrow cliff edge. Thankfully, due to fewer people around we managed to find a great site in the middle of a classic American forest. We were towered over by hundreds of pine trees and wondered if we might see any bears around. In California’s National Parks, it is illegal to have any food of any kind stored in your camping area or in your car. Unfortunately bears have been known to go to great lengths to access food, including peeling off windows and ripping roofs off of campervans. Hmmm, good sense of smell? It’s amazing how many food packets can somehow make their way all over the van….we gathered all our food together and did as we were told to avoid becoming another victim. Speaking of seeing a bear, we did get to see one in the wild despite it looking like a major tourist attraction. This bear caused a major traffic jam with all the people who stopped pretty much in the middle of the road (including us) just to get out and see what the crowd was looking at.

Driving on the Cliff Edge

End of the Road, Kings Canyon

On our final day in Kings Canyon, we had a long drive ahead of us to Las Vegas. We weren’t ready to leave the National Parks but unfortunately a hotel booking pulled us away. It felt like we had to say goodbye to a really good friend we knew we wouldn’t see for a very long time.


Gwen Pittaway said...

good on you Sal, for overcoming your fears, there certainly are rewards at the end! and keep on enjoying each new adventure, they certainly have been very different. that is amazing about the bears with their great sense of smell, having to get rid of your food! wow! beautiful country side.

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