100 Days of National Parks: Day 62 – On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

On Moro Rock

Sitting on top of Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, it’s impossible not to let your mind drift as you enjoy one of the best views in the park, and one of the best overlooks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I’ve ever come across. Unimpeded by trees or ground cover, the view from Moro Rock offers an expansive clear view of the peaks of the High Sierra to the east, crowned by Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S., all the way to to the rolling foothills and expansive farmlands of the central valley. It’s rare that you can find such a pristine overlook, such a clear view of some of the most amazing landscapes the country has to offer. It’s even rarer to have the experience to yourself.

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On Moro Rock

On Moro Rock
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Sitting on top of Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, it’s impossible not to let your mind drift as you enjoy one of the best views in the park, and one of the best overlooks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I’ve ever come across.  Unimpeded by trees or ground cover, the view from Moro Rock offers an expansive clear view of the peaks of the High Sierra to the east, crowned by Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S., all the way to to the rolling foothills and expansive farmlands of the central valley.  It’s rare that you can find such a pristine overlook, such a clear view of some of the most amazing landscapes the country has to offer.  It’s even rarer to have the experience to yourself.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 62 – On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 53 – Moonshine Jug, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug
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A lot of times when I wander through the remnants of old homesteads or buildings, like this broken-down barn in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I like to come up with stories for the people that used to live and work the land.  I imagine what the buildings looked like before they were abandoned, imagined the lives of the people who built them.  In some cases, I seize on small pieces of left-behind scrap, a book left to rot, a chair that’s been claimed as a nest for squirrels, or a lone green glass jug, glittering in the fading light of the afternoon sun.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 53 – Moonshine Jug, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 52 – Sunset over the Olympics, Olympic National Park

Sunset over the Olympics

Sometimes you come across a sunset that is so breathtaking, nothing else around you seems important. It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted from a long day of hiking, or freezing from the bone-penetrating cold of winter in the mountains, or simply ready to get back on the road and return home to your bed and a much needed shower. Sometimes, you just stand and watch as the sky seems to burn with the reds and oranges of the setting sun.

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Sunset over the Olympics

Sunset over the Olympics
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Sometimes you come across a sunset that is so breathtaking, nothing else around you seems important.  It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted from a long day of hiking, or freezing from the bone-penetrating cold of winter in the mountains, or simply ready to get back on the road and return home to your bed and a much needed shower.  Sometimes, you just stand and watch as the sky seems to burn with the reds and oranges of the setting sun.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 52 – Sunset over the Olympics, Olympic National Park”

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

Blood Red Sunset

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.

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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.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 29 – Blood Red Sunset, Sequoia National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 15 – Divine Light, Death Valley National Park

Rays of Fire

I am perhaps the furthest thing from a religious man, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had profoundly spiritual moments in my life, moments that affirm for me the reasons I travel and seek out beauty in everything, the reasons I want to keep exploring in the future. I’ve found, through exploring wilderness areas, particularly in our National Parks, the kind of spiritual connection with the world I never knew before, an understanding of my place within that world, a profound appreciation for natural beauty in all its forms and a desire to see more of it before my time is done.

April 15th is a hard day for me. On this day in 2012, I lost my closest, best friend in the world, Erik Lemke, to a sudden illness that took him before I could say goodbye. For months I existed in a state of perpetual shock. I became disengaged from work, family, friends, everything. I was grieving, yes, but there was more to it. I was facing mortality in a way I’d never dealt with it before, and I was increasingly drawn toward doing all the things I’d always wanted to do, but never had the chance or will to do before.

In June of 2012, I took a road trip up highway 395 in Eastern California on a drive that would take me up to Washington for some much needed family time. On the way, I wanted to detour to some of the National Parks I’d always wanted to see, but for some reason in my five years living in Los Angeles, had never made the trip to. It was the beginning of what I referred to as My Summer of George, and would culminate in visiting a dozen National Parks that year and set me on the path I continue to walk today.

The first stop was Death Valley National Park. Though I arrived late and didn’t spend much time, I did manage to reach Furnace Creek in time to catch this shot, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, and one of those life-affirming moments I touched on earlier. There, standing on a rise above the furnace creek campground, I watched the sun blast its rays through the tiniest of holes in the pervasive cloud cover, divine rays stretching out across the sky in brilliant red and orange hues. In that moment I knew I couldn’t look back, that I had to see more moments like this in my short time on my earth, that I had to chase moments like this, seek them out wherever I could find them. It’s why I hike. It’s why I take photos.

Life is short, and filled with moments that could be missed opportunities if you don’t go out and take advantage of all the world has to offer. Get out. Stay out. Find your own.

Divine Light

Rays of Fire
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I am perhaps the furthest thing from a religious man, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had profoundly spiritual moments in my life, moments that affirm for me the reasons I travel and seek out beauty in everything, the reasons I want to keep exploring in the future.  I’ve found, through exploring wilderness areas, particularly in our National Parks, the kind of spiritual connection with the world I never knew before, an understanding of my place within that world, a profound appreciation for natural beauty in all its forms and a desire to see more of it before my time is done.

April 15th is a hard day for me.  On this day in 2012, I lost my closest, best friend in the world, Erik Lemke, to a sudden illness that took him before I could say goodbye.  For months I existed in a state of perpetual shock.  I became disengaged from work, family, friends, everything. I was grieving, yes, but there was more to it.  I was facing mortality in a way I’d never dealt with it before, and I was increasingly drawn toward doing all the things I’d always wanted to do, but never had the chance or will to do before.

In June of 2012, I took a road trip up highway 395 in Eastern California on a drive that would take me up to Washington for some much needed family time.  On the way, I wanted to detour to some of the National Parks I’d always wanted to see, but for some reason in my five years living in Los Angeles, had never made the trip to.  It was the beginning of what I referred to as My Summer of George, and would culminate in visiting a dozen National Parks that year and set me on the path I continue to walk today.

The first stop was Death Valley National Park.  Though I arrived late and didn’t spend much time, I did manage to reach Furnace Creek in time to catch this shot, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, and one of those life-affirming moments I touched on earlier.  There, standing on a rise above the furnace creek campground, I watched the sun blast its rays through the tiniest of holes in the pervasive cloud cover, divine rays stretching out across the sky in brilliant red and orange hues.  In that moment I knew I couldn’t look back, that I had to see more moments like this in my short time on my earth, that I had to chase moments like this, seek them out wherever I could find them.  It’s why I hike.  It’s why I take photos.

Life is short, and filled with moments that could be missed opportunities if you don’t go out and take advantage of all the world has to offer.  Get out.  Stay out.  Find your own.

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.

A Walk in the (Jefferson) Park

Desolation around Jefferson

In September of 2015, I found my days on the Pacific Crest Trail winding to a close. I’d spent the previous two and a half months picking up the pieces of what was supposed to be a continuous 2663 mile hike from Mexico to Canada, but was derailed by a stress fracture after less than a quarter of that. After recovering from my injury, I pushed to return to the trail, at first attempting a southbound hike from the Canadian border, then settling on a more piecemeal approach, targeting specific sections of the Trail that I’d wanted to see, but didn’t get the chance to.

In September of 2015, I found my days on the Pacific Crest Trail winding to a close.  I’d spent the previous two and a half months picking up the pieces of what was supposed to be a continuous 2663 mile hike from Mexico to Canada, but was derailed by a stress fracture after less than a quarter of that.  After recovering from my injury, I pushed to return to the trail, at first attempting a southbound hike from the Canadian border, then settling on a more piecemeal approach, targeting specific sections of the Trail that I’d wanted to see, but didn’t get the chance to.
Continue reading “A Walk in the (Jefferson) Park”