I have caught the travel bug…hard. I was just dying to get out of town for the long weekend. My friend and photographer Tony mentioned he was going up to the Sequoia National Forest to shoot some landscape photography. So I offered to bake some cookies for the drive and come along.
I had never been to the Sequoia forest. All I knew is that there are big trees (true story) and that I was ill prepared for the 30 degree 5 feet of snow weather we were about to experience. Luckily, Zappos has next day shipping! From the moment we booked our room I was scouring their website for snow gear and I managed to find these awesome snow boots that were delivered just in time for our trip.
We left early Saturday morning (8am is early right?) and headed north. The drive up there took us about 5 hours, but between the carpool karaoke, exchanging dating horror stories, and scratching a few lottery tickets, it didn’t seem that long. We stopped for lunch around noon at a place called Gateway with a beautiful view of the river. This is also around the time I lost service and internet on my phone for the next 24 hours. It was a nice escape, but also drove me a little nuts every time I wanted to post a photo to Instagram.
Now keep in mind, during certain times in the winter months they won’t let you into the park without snow chains, no matter the kind of car you have. We had to turn around and rent them from town before we could get into the park. Once in, we were able to skip the 45 minute waiting line to put on snow tires because of our car was already equipped with 4wheel drive + snow tires. The higher up we drove, the more beautiful the scenery became. Snow covered trees on both sides and untouched wildlife all around.
We stopped along one of the trails to see the largest (volume) tree in the world. It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is 36 feet in diameter. Needless to say, I felt very small standing next to this giant tree. Walking through the snow covered forest was incredibly peaceful and calming. I had stuffed small toe warmers in my boots and hand warmers in my pockets to stay warm in the 30 degree weather. I’ll tell you from experience that dressing appropriately can make or break your experience in the Sequoia forest. We researched the weather and invested in proper snow boots which allowed us to trek through the snow without problems. Some people were shivering in their sneakers and thin coats like they had just driven up from LA. Amateurs.
We had booked a last minute stay at the Wuksachi Lodge (pronounced Wuk like book- sachi). A cozy hotel located in the heart of the park. We checked in and headed to our room (not attached to the main lodge FYI.) After de-thawing a bit and throwing on our snow gear again we headed back to the main lodge for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised with the food (for a government run national park lodge.) We shared a bottle of wine and kept cozy by the fire for a bit before heading back to the room.
On the way back, I stopped to look up at the stars. It was incredible. Living in LA our view is inhibited by pollution, building, fog, etc. But in an untouched placed like the Sequoia Forest, the intensity of our sky is something special. If I hadn’t been so cold or terrified to run into a bear, I could have stayed looking at the stars for hours.
Get ready for day 2 of our Seqouia trip coming up next week!
Photos by Tony Oberstar