Monday, June 19, 2006

Trip Part 4 - Sequioa

Sequioa was our last stop before heading home. It's a beatiful park, set way up in the mountains. We had a great day for it, sunny and warm. I thoroughly enjoyed myself driving up the twisty mountain roads to get there. I've got a reasonably decent handling car that's really made for that sort of thing, which I rarely get to drive like it should be driven. This was one of those rare chances, and I took advantage.

The park is full of awesomely huge and old Sequioa trees, including the largest living thing on on Earth, the General Sherman Tree. It's impressively large, but it's really difficult to grasp just how big it is. Except when it drops an enormous branch the size of a full grown tree that destroys the fence around the tree and shatters the concrete of the walkway. I wish I could've been there to see it, but the pictures will have to suffice.

We also went to Moro Rock. Despite it just being another granite dome, and the majesty of the trees, the climb up Moro Rock was my favorite part of the day. It's supposed to have commanding views of the surrounding terrain. But we had been playing tag with a low-flying cloudbank all day, and this time the cloudbank preceded our arrival. So the only view was a closeup of the inside of a cloud.

Foggy stone steps
The way to the top is several hundred yards of narrow stairs carved into the rockface itself, with an old rusting bannister on the outside. The cloud blocked out all views and damped out almost all sounds. Most of the tourists didn't seem willing to climb into the fog, so I had the rock almost entirely to myself.

The climb was surreal, like climbing into a world devoid of sight, sound or people, almost like climbing into a sensory deprivation tank. After several minutes of climbing, I reached the top. The end of the trail is long, narrow walkway to the edge of rock. There was a solitary foreign tourist standing at the end, but he turned and left as soon as he noticed me.

Top of Moro Rock
The few minutes I had alone there were the most peaceful of the entire trip. Up until that point I had been focused on sensory overload - winetasting, sightseeing, listening to music in the car. But on top of the rock with no sights, sounds or other people around gave me a precious moment to just stop. I'll remember that moment for a long time.

Before I left I read the signs at the end of the walkway. Ironically, they described all the landmarks in the area that were completely obscured by the fog. But no matter, I liked the fog better anyway.

Anyway, here are the rest of the photos.

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