Over time, we build more and more confidence and, at times, we might get a bit full of ourselves. It could be due to conquering responsibilities with work, family, relationships or friendships but we tend to feel a sense of importance that might not be warranted. Typically, there are inflection points in life where we are brought back to reality and realize that we aren’t necessarily as important as we thought we were. Sequoia National Park should be prescribed for those who feel they are excessively relevant when, in fact, they really aren’t. The humbling effect that the Giant Sequoias can impose can bring even the loftiest ego back down to earth.
Imagine standing next to a tree that is one of the oldest living organisms in the world, quite possibly 2000-3000 years old. How do you relate to that? If life expectancy is 85 years in the USA, 3000 years equals 35 consecutive lifetimes. It takes hundreds of years for a Sequoia to reach its full height. So, imagine planting a tree today and your great, great, great grandchildren might live long enough to see it when it’s fully grown.
More importantly is how unique these trees are. Their bark is very thick (it can grow to as much as 3 feet thick) and protects the Sequoia’s against fire, extreme elements and temperatures. Sequoia’s have shallow roots so they are susceptible to falling over. If their thick, protective bark is still intact when they are toppled, it could take hundreds of years for the tree to decay. This is clearly demonstrated by the Tunnel tree. It fell 80 years ago and it is still largely intact.
The most prominent Sequoia’s were named after military officers due to Union soldiers guarding the groves shortly after the Civil War while the first national parks were being designated. The National Park Service did not exist back then and loggers would try to cut down the trees if no one was guarding them.
The General Sherman tree is considered the biggest tree on earth based on the sheer volume of wood it contains. It is in the Giant Forest which is the largest grove of Sequoias in the park. Sequoias only grow at an elevation between 5000-8000 feet. They tend to grow on the southern side of mountains and have few large branches because they need lots of sunlight to reach maturity.
Prescribed burns conducted by the National Park Service are used to strengthen the trees. When Sequoia’s start to burn, they secrete a sap-like substance that acts like medicine to help heal and strengthen the trees. Here you can see the black area of the wood which was burnt during a prescribed burn. Taking a tour with one of the knowledgeable Park Rangers is a must to fully understand how unique these trees and this environment is.
When hiking at this elevation, it is important to wear appropriate clothing, drinking enough fluids and resting when becoming short of breath. It doesn’t take long to get yourself into a medical emergency in the wild.
Moro Rock is a massive boulder on top of a mountain. I have a fear of heights so it was a struggle for me to reach the top. There are a few railings but, in other spots, there is just a foot-high ledge along the walkway that separates you from a 500-1000 foot fall over the edge. At the top, there is an aluminum railing where you can walk across the center of the rock. It provides a nearly 360-degree view of the area. You can see cars hugging the curves of the mountain on their way to the park. And the sunsets are absolutely brilliant.
Route 198 out of Sequoia National Park is a long and winding one. You have no idea what you will encounter around every corner. In one of my visits, I came upon some wild boar feeding along the side of the road. If you are leaving the park at night, I recommend that you take Route 180 back toward Fresno as it is much less treacherous. Sequoia National Park is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. It is a place and experience for explorers of all ages.
Have you been to Sequoia National Park? What is your favorite part of the park and why?
For more information about Sequoia National Park, click the link below.