Earlier this month, my friend Brian sent me a text.
“Hey, my friend Nick and I are thinking about going to Sequoia. Want to come?”
Immediately, I said yes.
We were in the park for less than a full day, but it gave me a moment to forget about school and work and my responsibilities. I just enjoyed being present.
We stayed in a small town outside of the park called Tulare, which was about a two hour drive from Sequoia National Park. On Saturday morning, we woke up at 6am, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and hit the road.
Because it was the first day of National Park Week, we got free entrance into the park. Normally it costs around $30 for the day, but we were able to drive right in.
We slowly got further into the mountains. When we first crossed the entrance to the park, there were blooming flowers and looming trees, and the soft cast of sunlight from above tipped the temperature into a pleasant warmth. A family of deer greeted us, and the cars steadily slowed to allow them to pass across the road.
We took a winding path up and through the mountains and as time passed, the terrain suddenly began to change. There were less flowers, and the trees began to get wider and taller. The temperature gradually dropped, and soon we could see the sequoias.
Our first stop: Moro Rock.
We climbed up a set of stairs built into the rock formation, and eventually reached the top. The drop from the top of the rock was 10,000 feet, and it was steep. But the view was breathtaking. We could see where we were driving up the mountain just an hour or two prior.
The trail to the bottom of the rock took us about 40 minutes to reach, and it was a concrete path that normally allowed cars to drive on it during the warmer months. It was a relatively easy hike but with a great reward.
Afterwards, we decided to grab some lunch and head onto our next hike.
The night before when planning our day, the boys had decided to be ambitious and take on a bigger hike. We were planning to take Wolverton trail to one of the lakes in the park. It was a total of four miles.
What we didn’t anticipate was the entire trail being covered in snow. Our only indication we were on the right path were the trail markers on the trees. Paired with our lack of proper attire and shoes, it was difficult. And then once we hear thunder, we knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake.
We still had fun, and it was mind-blowing that we were able to go from the sunshine to the snow in such a short amount of time. Soon after this hike, we headed back to SLO and left the park.
But I think we all left with a sense of having accomplished something we didn’t know we could pull off, having decided to take this trip on a last-minute’s notice. I left wanting to come back and fully explore the park. We had barely scratched the surface. There was much more to see, and that doesn’t count the whole other park, King’s Canyon, that lies adjacent to Sequoia.
Ever since I came to the realization that my second year of college is quickly coming to an end, I’ve actively tried to embrace the mentality that I will never get this time back. I want to pursue what makes me feel happy and healthy and just good, and that means shifting my focus away from simply going through the motions of my day-to-day routine. It means going out of my way to be intentional about how I choose to spend my time.
When I look back I want to have moments and experiences where I remember making spontaneous decisions to go on trips across the state, or go out with friends, or even just little things like taking the time to watch the sun go down before I have to go back to studying. Those memories are the ones that truly matter in the end, and I’ve come to understand that those are the ones I want to be intentionally pursuing. I highly recommend checking out Sequoia if you’ve never been before!