Over the past few months I have hiked in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and of course California among other places.
Other than California I found most trails to be in dense forests and most travel confined to trails, as cross country travel is difficult at best. These places are often confining, the sky is often hidden by a canopy of trees, and views are only possible by climbing up to a peak. Instead of forest duff, one deals with rocks and roots.
In spite of these obstacles, those places I traveled are beautiful in their own right and highly recommended.
But I prefer open spaces. Spaces where I can at almost any time position myself to see for miles and miles. The open spaces I am referring to are deserts.
Living in a desert, it is easy to quickly get out into the open; not to mention I have access to millions of acres of desert fairly close to home.
But there is a land of open spaces I am particularly fond of; the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, and more precisely areas on the western slope between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Pines, firs, and other large tree species abound and are properly spaced to allow cross country travel and on not-so-heavily traveled trails. This land is about 4 – 6 hours from my home depending upon where I want to go.
And for the past 45 years I have been able to enjoy the southern Sierra almost every summer. Walking among these big trees is easy compared to my eastern travels, and it is surprising how effortless it is to catch panoramic vistas. In the eastern and central US forests, cross country travel is usually extremely difficult; in the Southern Sierra it is typically easy.
Especially special for me are the groves of one special tree – the Sequoia. There is a lot that can be said about these trees and an Internet search is highly recommended, but walking among them is even better. A few quick facts include the Sequoia as the largest tree in the world by volume and many living trees today were alive at least 1,000 years before Christ. Also, you are almost always to find water in a Sequoia grove – not because they need the water to grow, but because their massive root structure catches and holds tremendous volumes of rain water and actually creates the water courses.
Searching my photos, I wasn’t surprised that I don’t have many pictures of Sequoias. They are so massive; it is hard to get a single tree in a picture. Walking among them, one becomes so humble that the thought of taking a picture is overshadowed by their presence. Next summer I will make it a point to capture some of them on camera. In the meantime, here is one Sequoia that Corky and his mom liked.