Saturday, July 11, 2009

Walking among Giants

Day 13: July 9, 2009 – Sequoia National Park, CA
Holding our Heads High

Melissa woke up to the awful sound of Crows. It is an unfortunate fate to be one of few birds that make the ugliest noise of your nearest relatives. Crows are the black sheep of the Bird Kingdom. Always among the trees and in the great outdoors a person’s ears are graced with the soft sweet sounds of birds, greeting the morning and each other. These sounds are accentuated by the rustling of trees, roaring of rivers, babbling of creeks, and murmurs of other small woodland creatures. However, there is always the possibility that this sweet symphony will be interrupted by the loud and obnoxious CAW of a crow. Unfortunate fate for a bird, unfortunate alarm for Melissa.

Having recovered from a rough awakening, we packed up the tent as always and proceeded to make our way into Sequoia National Park. Now, if you’ve been curious for these past 13 days, we’ve maintained rule #6, minus our night in Durango, by CouchSurfing and by camping in National Parks. So long as you are slightly aware of the occasional “payment required campgrounds” it is allowable to pitch a tent for free within the boundaries of a National Park. As we always appreciate the price tag of free (which has new meaning after listening to Dan Ariley’s book Predictably Irrational), we have often set our tent up right on the outskirts of the National Parks.

Having made our way into the park we evaluated our energy and time and decided to make our way to General Sherman, the largest tree, by volume, in the world and then make our way around the Congress Trail. General Sherman, as with all the Giant Sequoias, was breathtakingly gigantic! This tree, if it were a tank, would hold enough water that you would be able to take a bath every day for 27 years! Melissa took a walk around the imprint of the trunk that was available and concluded that it would take about 97 steps to get around the tree – now, try to find a tree of that size and your local forest!

While walking the small trail around General Sherman, we also discovered a tree cookie, a slice of the trunk that’s used to determine age and history of a tree. We did not take the time to count the rings, but did note that the tree cookie was nearly the same size as our small apartment – we’re telling you, these trees are HUGE!

On the Congress Trail we enjoyed a bit of solitude, incomplete solitude but near. We gazed upon the President, the Congress and the House, not to mention the numerous other trees that were unfortunate during the naming process. Mike has, in our three days of gazing upon these giants, discovered a photographic love for these beasts. (Hopefully, you will be able to see the extent of this love on his Facebook profile, for now, a few favorites).

Having made our way around the Congress Trail we returned to the car and made our way to the Giant Forest Museum where we learned a great deal more about these trees we love: their need for fire, the likely hood of death by falling, their size in comparison to elephants, a dinosaur, a space shuttle, and the titanic. From the museum we boarded the Shuttle and made our way to Moro Rock. Walking up (and finally down) 351 steps we made our way to the top of this rock for a scenic view of the surrounding areas.

On our way out of the park, we took a scenic detour to view Auto Log and the Tunnel Tree. Auto Log used to serve as a place for vehicles to drive but collapsed at one point so now the huge log serves as a place for humans to walk around and take some classic photos. Tunnel Tree is a similar photo stop as it was a tree which fell across the road, yet rather than remove the tree, the park made the decision to simply cut a hole through the center and allow cars to drive through.

Finished with our tour de la Sequoias, we made our way southeast toward Death Valley where we will be visiting tomorrow. Until then, good-night.

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