Sequoia National Park was one of the first stops we had pinned to our laminated map when we were in the initial stages of planning. It seemed crazy to pass up the opportunity to hang out with some of the largest trees on earth.
We began our long drive by stopping at a giant raisin box across from the Viking RV park we were staying at. Inside the gift shop, we were greeted by a basket full of tiny Sun-Maid raisin boxes. We hadn’t seen those since childhood Halloween! Better still, free samples! The gift shop had every raisin type of snack we could imagine. We knew we were going for something chocolate dipped but decided to go a bit fancier – chocolate dipped and cocoa dusted!
The trip took us past miles of citrus groves. We scoured for someone selling oranges and were disappointed to not find anything. The best we could do was to pull over at a closed fruit stand and take a picture with the rows of orange trees.
Climbing into the Clouds
It was time to begin our ascent into a totally different world. So different from the warm valley that the park ranger at the gate checked to make sure we had tire chains. Thanks again dad for making sure we were fitted for them before we left Canada! This squiggly leg of the drive was full of gorgeous vistas and hairpin turns.
From Warm to Winter
Then the temperature dropped 15 degrees Celsius. We were immediately entranced by the sky-high snow-covered trees. Good thing we thought ahead and brought all our winter gear. We put on our coats and boots and let Wookie out of the truck. He was delighted to get to finally roll and snort in the two feet of snow!
Learning about the Sequoias
We checked out the visitors Center and learned that some of the sequoias are over 3000 years old. It was interesting to find out that these big trees only grow between five and seven thousand feet of elevation because too low is too dry but too high is too cold. We also chatted up the park ranger and he had the unfortunate news that the road through the park to the Grant Grove was completely snowed over.
Finally, it was time to visit the General Sherman Tree in the Giant Forest Grove. We excitedly made our way down a path and over the monster tree trunk. Officially General Sherman is the largest tree in the world by volume. According to the National Park Service, ‘it stands 275 feet tall and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base’. We figured the best way to truly take in the enormity of the base was to use a human for scale. In comparison to General Sherman Tree, we looked like Polly Pockets.
Walking Amongst Giants
We continued down the icy walkway admiring how the red bark of the Sequoias stood out against the white snow and dark green branches. Our necks craned upward trying to get an understanding of where the tops were. Though we couldn’t get too mesmerized on account of large chunks of snow falling from those tops. It just about got us once or twice. We climbed up to a viewpoint that offered the full picture of General Sherman and all the little ant people wandering around its base.
Time to Return to the Valley
Sadly we were running out of winter sunlight. A quick drive up a sheet of ice roadway to the Lodgepole Market provided us with some string cheese snacks and a chance to check out the souvenirs. We took one last opportunity to appreciate not only the majestic trees but also the snowy forest reminder of Christmas back home. It was hard to leave but we were so grateful to be able to check off a bucket list item. Back down the mountain, we went to the warmth and onto our next adventure