Road trip #5: Sequoia National Park and the Lakes trail
Rising early enough to beat the heat and avoid the bees, we stuffed everything back into our backpacks and back into the car. We had to make it to Sequoia NP by 4 pm to get our wilderness-permit for our hike the next day. We took turns driving through the edge of the mountains. The rocks and joshua trees turned into rolling yellow hills lined perfectly with rows of trees and bushes. The yellow hills turned into rocks and forest, and winding roads ascending up the mountain. The road up the mountain was no more than twenty or so miles- but the switchbacks kept us slow, and we arrived at the visitor's centre an hour later to get our permit and bear canister.
Most of our trip to Sequoia was going to be spent in the backcountry on our hike, so we played tourists before heading back down the mountain to camp. We visited General Sherman with the crowds-- the worlds largest tree measured by volume, It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base. Giant sequoia trees surround the path down to General Sherman, who stands amongst them even grander. There is a photo below of Celeste hugging one of the smaller sequoias' that was a fraction of the size. We hiked up Moro Rock, a short but very steep hike to some spectacular views. We ended the afternoon strolling on the crescent meadows/log trail, which felt like a fairytale paradise if you could ignore the mosquitoes. Yellow, pink, and blue flowers covered the forest floor hugging the edges of the trees, bright green ferns covered the rest and lined the edges of the trail. Small streams manoeuvred through the trees and trickled into pools, light danced on the water's surface. We crossed paths with a couple of deer- who were entirely unmoved by our presence. I felt like skipping, galloping, frolicking, calling to a fairy godmother or talking to the birds. But the mosquitoes were still biting, and we still had to drive down the mountain and set up camp.
Our campsite was small and cramped next to a large family. We backed the car in, parked, and began our routine of setting up our home, our kitchen, our beds. We used the running water and private bathrooms. We changed into our PJs and boiled water for dinner. That night I slept like hell anxious to start the hike the next day. It would be our first backpacking trip together and I could not wait to lug my forty pound backpack up the mountain.
After a small detour, we began our hike around 11 am at the Wolverton trailhead. Booger rags (bandanas) around our neck and water bottles full, we started our six-mile hike up the mountain. While researching trails for this trip, I wanted to find something that we could do in a couple of days, but that was equally challenging and rewarding. The Lakes Trail is a 14 mi trail that takes you through the forest and up mountains 3,759 feet. The ascent started slowly- as did we- stopping to get things out of pockets and put things back in pockets for the first half mile or so. We'd take turns rotating to face our pack towards the other, trying to remember which pocket the sunscreen was in or the bug spray or sunglasses. We finally caught on and picked up speed, stopping here and there for water or for a photo. (or just to breath heavy while passing hikers flying down the mountain without packs)
We made it to the top by 5 or 6, finding a campsite close to water to make the trek short. We sat our toddler-sized backpacks down and started the nightly routine. Pitch tent. Blow up sleeping Pad. Change clothes. Boil water. Eat. and then our favourite: Drink hot chocolate. We walked down the mountain until we could see the sunset and sat down on the rocks, looking over the edge of a mountain towards the sun that was beginning to set--just below the clouds that separated the sky from the earth.
The night was freezing and we both slept like hell, pulling our sleeping bags over our faces just to breath warm air and keep our noses intact. We reluctantly got out of the tent after 9 am and drank coffee from our sleeping bags before packing everything back into our backpacks. We boiled water and ate our oatmeal next to Lake Pear before heading back down the mountain, stopping to explore the other lakes and pause for lunch. We finally walked down the final steps to the parking lot early afternoon, exhausted and covered in dirt and sweat but full of so much joy and pride (and packets of tuna). The first of many backpacking adventures, walking up mountains with my bestfriend.