A Bunch of Really Old and Really Tall Trees: Sequoia National Park - My Family Travels
Park Signs
A tall Sequoia
Mountain top
More sequoias

When my parents first informed my brothers and me that our summer vacation was going to be spent at Sequoia National Park in southern California, I was disappointed. We were going to hop in the van for nine excruciating hours to see what? Trees, trees, and even more trees. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Yes, we did see trees, trees, and even more trees, but as we stepped out of our family van to stretch our legs at the Visitor’s Center, we got a glimpse at our first real sequoia- the Sentinel. And I mean glimpse, because as I stood near the base of the sequoia, I arched my neck back to see exactly how big these old red trees were, and all I could see was that the branches of the Sentinel, well, they were never-ending.After days of planning and packing, my family finally set off in the late morning from our scorching temperatures in Arizona to go see the ‘old trees’. At 9 pm, we arrived at Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia, unfortunately a few minutes after the check-in kiosk closed.

As we drove in the quiet darkness to our reserved site #93, our headlights spotted a calm deer ambling across the road. We quickly set up our tents, and the next morning, we discovered a bigger surprise, a tiny clump of black fur in the steep hills high above our campsites- we had seen a bear!After that morning’s excitement we paid a visit to the Visitor’s Center, where we saw our first the 300 foot tall sequoia, the Sentinel. We traveled later to the grand General Sherman tree, which was impossible to fit into one picture frame- probably because it is the tallest sequoia in the park.

Throughout the next three days, we were surrounded by giant sequoias. We walked to Beetle Rock to see a gorgeous but sadly polluted overview of a valley of luscious green tree tops and a few distant ice-covered peaks. We hiked the Congress Trail, where we took pictures with the park’s own Senate, House, and President (of course, these were in reality groups of stately sequoias).

We were determined to walk up the almost 400 steps that led up to Moro Rock, and were rewarded by a cool breeze at the top and another dazzling panoramic view of the Sequoia National Park. We ended each day with a restful evening at the campground, planning where we wanted go and what we wanted to see the following day.Throughout our hiking treks on various trails in the park, we saw thousands of towering sequoias. Many of the sequoias we encountered were slightly burnt or hollow, which made them even more beautiful and ancient-looking.

There were hollowed out sequoias with bases so huge and wide, that you could actually climb into the tree and walk inside. We found an especially intriguing sequoia that actually had tunnels through its base with two different exits! There were also many fallen sequoias that had toppled probably because their roots were too shallow, and some were even lying across the road so that a tunnel had to be carved into them to allow cars to pass through. When we first drove through one of those sequoias, Tunnel Log, we were afraid that our car with its extended roof luggage would be too tall! But not to worry, those sequoias proved to be just as surprisingly wide as they are shockingly tall.Although most people, including myself, do not like to be proven wrong, I am glad that my initial thoughts about Sequoia National Park were in fact very wrong.

When I was surrounded by multitudes of the giants of all trees, I was humbled to be in the presence of sequoias that were perhaps a thousand years older than me and 300 feet taller that me. These sequoias have truly stood the test of time; they are wonders of nature who undoubtedly deserve the title. The red sequoias in southern California are not just a ‘bunch of really old and tall trees’, they are majestic and ancient splendors whose unimaginable natural beauty and stature will literally take your breath away.

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