Carpinteria to Sequoia National Park

An up and down day today, both literally (mountains galore) and emotionally. After hearing that Route 1 was closed due to forest fires, my choice of coast or mountains was made, so I headed through the Los Padres National Forest - a heady mix of hills, dry earth and verdant flora (no ice though!). 

The other side of the forest I hit Interstate 5 which goes along the San Joaquim Valley - a tremendously expedient, if uninspiring road, north. Late in the day I arrived at what I thought was my destination - the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The thing I have discovered about America is that it just keeps going - you think you are in the high mountains, when you are only in the foothills (it keeps on going up!) or that you are nearly there when there are miles still to go. 
After my experience of the campsite in Carpinteria, I was nervous that there would be nowhere to stay in the parks. Although the Rangers do a good job, I had found it nearly impossible to get a clear explanation of how things work, hence when I arrived I was told that the campsites "nearby" (1 hour away) were pre-booked only, and I would have to go to the next site (2 hours away). I am ashamed to say that this news tested my somewhat fragile state, and brought on a spell of negativity and fear that was upsetting to experience, particularly given that I tend to think of myself as reasonably good at going with the flow...

The park itself is quite simply magnificent, which was in direct opposition to some of the people in it - music blaring, self-obsessed, oblivious morons - I could not imagine why they were there. The absolute, unequivocal wonder of this place and the sequoias it is famous for, blithely brushed aside in cynicism. I am sure that some would say that they had been there many times, and the trees were "old hat", but I cannot imagine my breath not being taken away by this place, even if I saw it every day - it is that stunning. 

So it was that I visited the world's largest tree - a sight that leaves me without faculty to describe it. To simply be there in the presence of such a thing filled me with so much awe that I could do nothing but stand and be embraced by it. It was such a shame, I thought, that so few of the other people there did not share this feeling of reverence for the trees, and I could not help but think that they seemed as if they were at Disneyland - simply replacing a photo with Mickey for a photo with "General Sherman" (what such an ancient being as this would think of being named after a general, I have no idea). 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stuart,

    I wonder if our American Cousins call the tree 'General Sherman' in the same spirit as we would probably call it 'John Bull'. The tree seems to be stoic and immovable. 'John Bull' would be an appropriate name over here I feel. I've never seen the States let alone 'General Sherman', but maybe one day!
    Good Luck