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Sequoia National Park California

Updated on November 20, 2011
Effervescing Elep profile image

Chris loves to write about travel, reflect upon his experiences and to share the excitement of a new place.

Deer in the mist - Sequoia National Park
Deer in the mist - Sequoia National Park | Source

Given that California is over 5000 miles from my home it's not a place I can visit every day. When we had chance to visit some friends on the USA West Coast earlier this year, I therefore spent a considerable amount of time researching where we wanted to stay a night or two. As we were taking a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle in about 18 days, I had to choose carefully and we only stayed a couple of nights at each spot.

One of the real treats of our near three week trip was an expedition to Sequoia National Park. Those fascinatingly huge sequoia trees have always really fascinated me, and I also wanted the opportunity to stretch my legs in the mountains and take some photographs.

Sequoia trees in the mist
Sequoia trees in the mist | Source

Unfortunately, we didn't really anticipate the weather; our UK impression of California from all those movies is sun, sea and sand. June in Sequoia National Park, California was going to be just the same, right?

My biggest mistake was to wear shorts, although I did very sensibly bring a fleece or two as I knew Sequoia was pretty high up in the mountains. I looked every bit the “Mad Englishman” as we trotted over the snow in the thick mists in the forests.

Likewise, the regulars thought we were completely insane to take the hard climb up the steps to the famous viewpoint at Moro Rock; we had deluded ourselves into thinking we might somehow climb above the mist. Nope, visibility was about 8 foot up there.

Forest fire in the Sequoia National Parl
Forest fire in the Sequoia National Parl | Source

While we didn't manage to capture the majesty of swathes of huge sequoia stretching out endlessly, we did end up with something better.

The mists had put paid to the less intrepid travellers. There weren't too many tourists wandering along the forest trails (most were content to wander the visitor centre and coffee shop). In the quiet, we could easily imagine what the Native Americans and early pioneers must have seen and felt like; this new world must have been simultaneously endless, breathlessly exciting and full of danger.

We passed through a patch of recently burnt forest, and in the mists the trees looked particularly eerie.

Sequoia Tree in the mist
Sequoia Tree in the mist | Source

The quiet of the forests meant we had to be careful not to get lost (and we stuck religiously to the main trails), and to be alert just in case we strayed across a wandering bear. While sadly even the bears decided to stay at home that day, we did manage to startle a family of deer just up on the ridge above us. I'm a lousy wildlife photographer, but even I managed to get a shot or two as the deer simply looked at us before slowly wandering on.

I think too that the mist gave me a heightened sense of awareness, and I found even a decaying lump of tree trunk surprisingly beautiful as it decayed into small red chips of wood. Alongside the death of an ancient Sequoia was signs of new life with the sequoia cones and needles scattered on the forest floor. I resisted the temptation to pick up a cone or two for my pocket.

Decaying sequoia tree
Decaying sequoia tree | Source

While our Sequoia National Park experience wasn't quite what we anticipated, in the end we felt we had captured it as it should be; I'm sure that more days than not are cold and misty in the mountains and we captured a whole different beauty on our visit.

Sequoia National Park Forest Floor
Sequoia National Park Forest Floor | Source


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I loved your exquisite photos and experiences of visiting Sequoia National Park. I am just about ready to publish a new hub about the Amazing California National Parks ~ Eight Places of Natural Beauty and Wonder and I am going to add a link to this hub in it. You are right...most people do not see this national park such as the way you did. Up, useful, beautiful and interesting votes.

    • Effervescing Elep profile image

      Effervescing Elep 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bernie - thanks for your kind comments - yes we enjoyed the west coast very much and I loved the solitude up in the park.

      thanks for dropping by!

    • bernieadkins profile image

      bernieadkins 6 years ago from Virginia

      Beautiful pictures! Sounds like a great trip.