100 Days of National Parks: Day 29 – Blood Red Sunset, Sequoia National Park

Blood Red Sunset

Blood Red Sunset
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When it comes to the sunrise/sunset debate, I frankly don’t have a dog in the fight.  I know this makes me terrible on first dates, I know that many will accuse me of playing to both sides because I’m weak willed, but frankly, I love them both.  Call me a sun polygamist if you will, but be it up or down, I love watching the sun sit low on the horizon, period.

There are few places in the country better to catch a sunset than California, particularly Southern California and the Central Valley.  I’ve seen epic sunsets elsewhere, and will share those eventually as part of this photo series, but to be honest, nothing beats the terrible air quality of California for beautiful magic hours.  Yes, it’s not the landscapes or the vistas, the dynamic cloud cover or the majesty of the Pacific.  It’s ever-present haze of smog and dust in the air that bring to California these amazing displays.

As a rule, I hate pollution.  I know, again, I’m taking a radical position here, but that’s just how I feel.  That being said, the amount of light the ever-present dinginess of the Central Valley sky blocks infuses every sunset with the most dramatic colors.  As long as you’re not in it, you can really appreciate the beauty of so much toxicity in the air, be it the extensive carbon emissions from factories, cars, and farm equipment, or the methane leaking from millions of cows populating foul-smelling feed-lots, or the ever-present dust kicked up from the drought-ridden landscape, turning fields fallow where there shouldn’t be fields in the first place.  Like anything in life, if you can get above it, look down upon it from a safe, insulated perspective, everything seems to work out A-OK.

Which brings me to Moro Rock.

There are legitimately few places that I’ve been that make for better sunset viewing than the domed outcropping at the southern end of Sequoia National Park.  Sitting out on the massive mound of granite, it’s easy to forget about the terribleness of the world below, the troubles in your life, the daily environmental catastrophes that strip the natural beauty from our every day lives.  Sitting there, with the towering peaks of the High Sierra to the left, and the blood red orb of the sun peaking through the ever-present brown cloud that blankets the Central Valley sky, you can forget about your worries, and appreciate nature for what it should be: a respite and refuge from the things that make us unhappy and unhealthy.

As much as I love sunsets like these, I’d gladly give up the chance to ever see them again if we could just figure out a way to make nature a priority.  We shouldn’t have to chase the places above the clouds to give us perspective on the world below.


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