Posted by: Jack | March 28, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 2 – Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoia, Red Rock Valley

As I mentioned in the previous post, this day began at 6 am after a long, deep and much-needed sleep. I awoke at Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, packed up my gear and hit the road. My first stop was only minutes later at the Bridal Veil Falls which I had caught a glimpse of from the road as I entered the valley the day before. Approaching the base of the falls I encountered yet another visually humorous warning sign.

Although the sun had not yet risen I still managed to get a halfway decent shot of the falls:

My drive continued, climbing up out of the valley and offering a few last vistas of Yosemite.

Mid morning I arrived in King’s Canyon National Park and after speaking with a park ranger, decided I would be better off spending more time in the adjacent Sequoia National Park. Before heading further South I did walk over to the nearby Grant Tree which was one particularly large sequoia.

Heading South I came across a number of nice roadside vistas and on a random whim decided to try and capture some juggling photos. I discovered that it can be fairly difficult to juggle in even simple patterns when you have a ten-second timer pressuring you to hurry.

Continuing South to the Sequoia National Park Giant Tree Museum/Visitor Center, I saw a sign for the General Sherman Tree. I decided to pull in and see if this tree was larger than the Grant Tree I had just visited. I got on the short trail and quickly came to a sign saying that I was now looking at the largest tree in the world! I glanced up at the tree immediately in front of me and although obviously huge, it honestly didn’t seem to compare to many of the redwoods I had seen in Northern California. I kept reading, planning to find that this was only the largest sequoia or something of that sort. Finding no explanation I again looked up and realized that the sign was placed where it was because it gave a great vantage of a tree off in the distance which was without a doubt, the largest tree in the world. This photo is a less-than-perfect shopping of two photos because there was just no way to get a single picture of the whole tree and myself.

Some interesting facts about the General Sherman Tree:

  • Approximately 2500 years old
  • Weighs nearly 3 million pounds
  • 275 feet tall
  • 103 feet in circumference

After taking in the magnitude of the largest living thing on Earth, I continued on the short walking path and even got a chance to climb a sequoia…sort of.

Just a short distance later I did come across the Giant Tree Museum/Visitor Center as well as the Sentinel Tree which resides in the front lawn.

I decided to take just a short hike and found myself on the Big Trees Loop Trail. The whole area was extremely scenic with bright clear skies, a thick blanket of untouched snow and bright orange, giant trees scattered around a wide open meadow. I think the human brain has difficulty grasping the size of these trees unless given an immediate frame of reference such as a person near the base. The tree below actually looks larger in this picture than it did in person because I have myself to compare it to.

Finding myself satisfied with the number of trees viewed, I got an early start on my ~6 hour drive to Red Rock Valley just outside of Las Vegas, NV. Unfortunately I came across a number of view points which were severely impaired by the smog coming in from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Apparently this smog drift is now even reaching into the Grand Canyon. On the up side, I did drive past a number of very large wind farms and was thereby relieved slightly, being reminded that there are those who are making an effort.

Throughout my fair amount of driving this day I listened to Richard Dawkins’ An Ancestor’s Tale which is a reverse chronology of the evolution of homo sapiens sapiens going all the way back to the first life forms on Earth. This book was a fun “read” with lots of interesting facts about various organisms. If you are into audiobooks, this one is well read by Dawkins himself and his wife.

Crossing the border into Nevada I was immediately confronted with an endless blast of light pollution advertising $0.39 shrimp cocktails and comped gas for casino patrons. The glow of Vegas was easily visible from many miles away and the shining beacon that is the pillar of light beaming off the top of the Luxor Casino/Hotel all night, every night seemed a glaring icon of wasted energy.

As I turned away from Las Vegas, heading for Red Rock Valley I grew very eager to see a number of friends whom I would be spending the next few days with. Much to my despair I got stuck in a line of traffic waiting for a train to pass just a few miles from my destination. After about 20 minutes of waiting I discovered that the train had been stopped when what I thought were just some buildings in the distance began moving. So after nearly a half hour delay I found my way to the group camp only to find no lights on but rather a bunch of zipped up tents with lots of shoes just outside all of them: a sure sign that everyone had gone to sleep. Not wanting to wake the likely exhausted climbers, I made some dinner and meanwhile snapped this excellent photo of the red cliffs above us. Keep in mind this photo is not digitally enhanced but is actually just a prolonged exposure. The glow of the city prevents these areas from ever getting truly dark.

Also while attempting to capture the above image I unintentionally managed a feat which I imagine is rarely accomplished. During one of the prolonged exposures I captured the streak of a shooting star. The picture isn’t very exciting but it’s the idea that counts here.

After dinner I set up my tent and crawled into my bag figuring I would see the rest of the group in the morning. Just before midnight I awoke to three friends crashing through my tent’s door and diving on top of me. It turns out that the entire group had gone into town for the evening and just arrived back at camp…and was apparently excited to see that I had arrived as well. After a bit of catching up, everyone expressed their craving for sleep and we turned in for the night.

Continue to Day 3




  1. Superb narrative and pics of some incredible sites, Jack! Thanks for sharing!

  2. […] The busiest day of the year was June 30th with 192 views. The most popular post that day was Epic Journey: Day 2 – Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoia, Red Rock Valley. […]

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