Big Trees!

We rolled into Yosemite at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. After driving for nine hours I was ecstatic that we were there, until Nate told me it would still take us another hour or so to get to our campsite. Holy. Huge. Park. I handed over the keys for the last stretch of windy mountain road, and took in the night views of the park. It was dark and woodsy, and I was tired, so I had no concept of the utopia I had just entered into. Nate kept giving me hints that we would be coming up on some pretty cool shit; namely El Capitan. I hadn’t done much research on Yosemite, or anywhere we’re headed for that matter. I figured that the less I prepared for and fantasized about what this trip would be like, the less expectations I would have, which is an ideal way to take on something new. This tactic kept me from getting too excited going into the trip, so I wasn’t feeling much of anything except weary as we drove through Yosemite. That is, until we busted through the forest into some clear spots and I was able to catch a glimpse of El Capitan and the rest of the mountainside.

El Capitan

The massive rocky backdrop was eerily beautiful in the 2 a.m. light of an almost full moon and sky full of stars. I was awestruck and borderline freaked out by the scene.

Whoa.

This was the first moment it struck me that I was on a serious adventure. From this point on, my default state was giddy.

Our first day in Yosemite was dedicated to Giant Sequoias. This was a big one on my list of things to see in my life. Probably Top 10, if not Top 5. I’ve even been toying with the idea of a sequoia grove tattoo for the past two years after being inspired by something Michael Franti said about them at a show (that’s all I can say about that, can’t give away too much!) We headed out to Mariposa Grove and ended up spending about five hours hiking around, taking pictures nonstop, hugging trees, and marveling at the size and color of these gorgeous tree beasts.

Mariposa Grove

This was one of the first pictures I took when we got into the Grove. Many more to follow. If i can figure out how to post an album on this site I’ll add more pics, otherwise, check Facebook for full photo albums.

Treehuggers

These are two shots of the same tree. The further we got towards the upper grove the more free we were to get right up in the trees. Some of the more popular trees in the lower grove are fenced off to protect the trees from foot traffic.
Silly Sequoia Shot
As we wandered around the grove, I was struck by the amount of deadwood and debris. There were fallen trees everywhere, in various stages of rot, and they were just as phenomenal as the trees still standing.

Fallen Sequoia root system

There was also a lot of information about wildfires in the groves. Apparently fires are essential for the growth and reproduction of Sequoias. Check out this article for more information: http://www.nps.gov/seki/naturescience/fic_firerole.htm

This got me to thinking about the delicate balance of life, and how death and destruction are necessary to keep that balance. Something like a wildfire can create a sense of panic and distress; to see it as an event conducive to reproduction and life is a fresh and welcome change of perspective. The same goes for any jarring and sudden event that occurs in life. We are often so quick to label such events as “disasters” or “tragedies” that we get sucked into the feeling of loss associated with the event, and overlook the positive outcomes. I’m a firm believer that something good can always be extrapolated from a “bad” situation; one just needs to find the right perspective. Lose a job and find your life’s passion; lose a relationship and find yourself; lose a loved one and gain a new appreciation for all the ones you love; lose some vegetation on the forest floor and create an ideal habitat for a giant sequoia that will grow for hundreds of years and touch millions of lives. The beauty of the grove lies as much in the sacrificed life littering the forest floor as it does in the towering trees that are its main attraction. The death in the grove was so in my face that it was impossible to ignore the traces of what once was; what burned up and all but disappeared so that the Earth could breathe new life into the impressive Sequoia standing before me. Here, life and death are in complete harmony.

Hiking to the Upper Grove

Just writing a little something here because I can’t figure out why WordPress won’t let me post back to back pictures.

Standing on the fallen tunnel tree. A tunnel was carved into this tree in 1881 to create a tourist attraction at Mariposa Grove. Weakened by the tunnel, it toppled over during a snowstorm in 1969. This marked the beginning of a greater awareness of the sensitivity of these ecosystems, and was a turning point in the preservation program in U.S. National Parks.

 So, our visit to Mariposa Grove was a humbling and thought-provoking experience. Also, it was just awesome to see something so huge and alive up close, and it was fun to play in the trees. I would highly recommend checking this place out if you’re ever anywhere near California. It was pretty incredible. Check that one off the list.
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