100 Days of National Parks: Day 58 – Deer Beneath Lembert Dome, Yosemite National Park

Deer Beneath Lembert Dome

Sometimes it’s as much the places you stop that are as important as the places you go. When traveling, I cherish finding those campgrounds that reward you for staying there, where the beauty that greets you in the morning as you crawl out of your tent sets the stage for the explorations to come. There are a few that are consistent g0-to places for me whenever I travel, the Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef, South Campground in Zion, and the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia, for example, each of which offer amazing access to the best their parks have to offer combined with awesome natural beauty in camp itself. However, in all my travels, I’ve never found a campground that offers a better morning wakeup than the Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park.

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Deer Beneath Lembert Dome

Deer Beneath Lembert Dome
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Sometimes it’s as much the places you stop that are as important as the places you go.  When traveling, I cherish finding those campgrounds that reward you for staying there, where the beauty that greets you in the morning as you crawl out of your tent sets the stage for the explorations to come.  There are a few that are consistent g0-to places for me whenever I travel, the Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef, South Campground in Zion, and the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia, for example, each of which offer amazing access to the best their parks have to offer combined with awesome natural beauty in camp itself.  However, in all my travels, I’ve never found a campground that offers a better morning wakeup than the Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 58 – Deer Beneath Lembert Dome, Yosemite National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 49 – Sequoia Foothills, Sequoia National Park

Sequioa Foothills

Put simply, I love the southern approach to Sequoia National Park. The road through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada follows the Kaweah River up from Lake Kaweah through golden hills dotted with oak and chaparral, winding along ever upward toward the jutting dome of Moro Rock, the landscape changing with each mile. For miles prior to reaching the Foothills Visitor center, you transition from the rich farmlands of the central valley into rock-strewn hills and eventually turn the corner to the most amazing vistas along the Kaweah valley.

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Sequoia Foothills

 

Sequioa Foothills
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Put simply, I love the southern approach to Sequoia National Park.  The road through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada follows the Kaweah River up from Lake Kaweah through golden hills dotted with oak and chaparral, winding along ever upward toward the jutting dome of Moro Rock, the landscape changing with each mile.  For miles prior to reaching the Foothills Visitor center, you transition from the rich farmlands of the central valley into rock-strewn hills and eventually turn the corner to the most amazing vistas along the Kaweah valley.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 49 – Sequoia Foothills, Sequoia National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 36 – Mist Falls, King’s Canyon National Park

My first taste of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains came in August of 2012, when I took a three day weekend and traveled up to King’s Canyon National Park in California, not knowing what to expect. It was my first solo camping trip in ages, and I’d just heard the Park existed. I knew about Sequoia, naturally, which extends to the south of King’s Canyon and forms one massive National Park area covering the majority of the southern end of the High Sierras, but King’s Canyon was a mystery.

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Mist Falls

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My first taste of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains came in August of 2012, when I took a three day weekend and traveled up to King’s Canyon National Park in California, not knowing what to expect.  It was my first solo camping trip in ages, and I’d just heard the Park existed.  I knew about Sequoia, naturally, which extends to the south of King’s Canyon and forms one massive National Park area covering the majority of the southern end of the High Sierras, but King’s Canyon was a mystery.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 36 – Mist Falls, King’s Canyon National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point

There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park. From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

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Glacier Point

Glacier Point
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There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park.  From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite

El Capitan

There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography. Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow. Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

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El Capitan

El Capitan
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There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography.  Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow.  Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 20 – Mirror in the Merced, Yosemite

Mirror in the Merced

There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

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Mirror in the Merced

Mirror in the Merced
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There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor.  It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 20 – Mirror in the Merced, Yosemite”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 11 – Parting the Veil, Sequoia National Park

Parting the Veil

Parting the Veil
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Mt. Whitney.

The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

In my years of hiking, I’ve always repeated the mantra, “Sometimes you beat the mountain, sometimes the mountain beats you.”  Whitney, that unassuming monolith at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the eastern edge of Sequoia National Park, is the one mountain that has truly beaten me.

In 2015, while descending the switchbacks on the western side of the mountain, after being turned back from a thunderstorm that swept in during my ascent, I picked up a stress fracture that ended my dreams of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that year.  It was a tough injury, more for the emotional and mental distress than for the physical hardships it caused.  I left Sequoia and the PCT that June defeated but determined to return, to beat the mountain that beat me so resoundingly.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” – Napoleon Hill

When most people think of Sequoia National Park, they think of the big trees, with the mountains almost an afterthought, but so much staggering beauty is out there in the backcountry of the High Sierra, waiting to be explored.  Though daunting, these mountains are some of the most dramatic, beautiful examples of wilderness we have in the U.S.  I encourage everyone to get out and explore them some time, to find their own mountain they need to beat, I know I intend to.