Location: Sequoia National Park
Elevation: 13,000 ft
Note: I guess this is as good a place as any to talk about Fire. It was no mistake that at this point in my life I was brought to a Forest which is most ultimately and most intimately connected to Fire in the world. Even the smallest most myopic little spark can burn down the whole f@ckin thing. If that isn’t an aphorism for how even the smallest falsity to a loved one can lead ultimately to total distrust, then I don’t know what is. In this way, different lessons emerge in different forests, which is just another reason why some adventurers get hooked on the next hike; Reading a forest is more often like reading a novel, as experiences culminate you want to see more. It is eye-opening that the very existence of these exquisite and hallowed pillars of arbos depend upon a practically sentient process of distributing this most prophetic fourth Element. There is also another lesson, no less profound, relative to Fire here. If there is no fire the forest will inevitably stack its dry-brush and suffocate, blocking-out the sunlight from the soil. Too much fire and the forest will obviously be destroyed, and in the most drastic way possible. But finally, say a thresh-level, low-glowing, and slow-rolling fire begins crackling distinctly beneath the stellar Sierra night; Amazingly, this specific type of fire cleans out the waste. and the Forest is literally reborn.
Studies have shown that many of the trees, in a nearly human display of maternity, will not let go of their seeds until this specific thresh-level fire has taken place. The fact that Fire is scientifically the biological nemesis of any tree is just an incredible lesson on the subtleties of Nature’s relationships, and so our human relationships as well. We can’t go through life holding-on to our mistakes. At some point, to flourish, you must risk the burn, and leave all the waste, for the fire and wind.
And just look at the result. Here we have the oldest Forest on Earth, in one of the highest elevations on Earth, with the tallest trees on Earth. Many people in other parts of the world are not aware that this particularly rare and ageless Forest requires a quest into the upper elevations of the Sierra Mountains. Sequoia’ sits on the high rocky corner of a massive mountain rim (Image/Top). I myself have lived in the United States all my life, and never realized that Sequoia is literally a Forest that touches the clouds, not just the average woods that could be arrived at by crossing a mere stretch of common roads.
The approach to Sequoia National Park begins on the south-eastern edge of the massive Californian Valley. Porterville, Lyndsay, or Exeter are all classic Californicana’ overnight points for an early morning approach into the initial elevations of Tulare County, a small rolling region blissfully tucked into the golden foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Forests begin to emerge along Three-Rivers Road, Route 198, which is also known as General’s Highway.The entire world changes from gold to green in a matter of miles. This is the main labyrinthian route into the 10,500-foot heights above sea-level, leading ultimately into Sequoia National Park, and a supreme vantage of the Sierra-Nevada Rim at Moro Rock Trail. There are 39 additionally exquisite options to hike here at the most hallowed Forest in the world, and for a look at the largest and oldest Sequoia Tree, the General Sherman Tree Trail is here too. General Sherman Tree Trail: The most ancient and massive tree in the world is found here at Sequoia, known by the rather crass title of “General Sherman”. American Civil War General William T. Sherman is best known, ironically, for burning every major industrial center of the American South in 1865. ‘Fire’ as a historical theme emerges here as well. The stupidity in naming the most sacred tree on Earth (a Tree that is extremely vulnerable and threatened by Fire) for the name of a man who is known chiefly for burning half the country to the ground, is embarrassing. Whatever the real name of this tree is, I can guarantee you, it is not anything like “General Sherman”. Nevertheless, follow the signs along the Park’ road for several minutes until you arrive at the designated parking ground. The simple singular trail loops gradually down… through a grove of gorgeous Ponderosa and Sequoia, where “General Sherman” looms irreverently above all else. It’s a short looping walk around, before heading back up. It would be best to choose a secondary hike, a more significant one, through these woods. I chose to get back in the car and drive over to the main car-park, near the entrance, and have a walk up to the incredible vista at Moro Rock Trail.
Moro Rock Trail: The walk along the Forest road from the main car-park to Moro Rock is the first and most basic option for seeing the precious Sequoia glades here on the high south rim of the Sierra’s. Just a few miles of slightly elevated walking gives a marvelous glimpse of both the Jurassic scale, and serenity here. Soldier Trail can be found to the left along the lower road, or near the entrance at the top of the road, by Moro Rock. There are lavender rushes that run for hundreds of yards beneath the ancient wooden monoliths, so strong,. yet so vulnerable, as shown by the charcoal bruises of the bark. forever resisting the burn. Pathways weave beneath trees that are, in their own right, perhaps one thousand to several thousand years in growth.
If you follow the short Soldier Trail or the road, you will break through the Forest and come to the climb for Moro Rock. This is only a ten minute jaunt up some granite stairs and cuts in the rock. Aside from the grand overall viewof the Sierra Rim, it is also an opportunity to see just how rare, and skyward, this elevated Forest really is. A look at the Forest from here reveals the exquisite nature of this place; The altitude, the edge-of-the-Earth vibe, the familial feeling of this relatively rare corner of related giant glades, just takes your breath away. From above, nothing seems to be in jeopardy; But within the glades, we know full well about the battle taking place against the severe weather patterns of the last decade. Sequoia’ is so ancient, so connected to the earliest Earthly realm, that it is a wonder these timeless trees have not yet literally learned to speak. The Peak at Moro Rock is an opportunity to ingest all of this.
Mortality. Time. Grandeur. Family. Rarity. All themes that touch the heart here. The subtle relationship of the Elements to the natural world, and the naturals world’s relationship to us, is on massive display. You must sometimes extend yourself to find the rare places, and the ancient places, the sacred places. Try to understand that seeing a place like this is not important because of its raw natural beauty, or heavenly scale; Sequoia is not important because it may one day burn; It is important because it whispers to you, with every bending branch, that our time will be up in the relative blink of an eye, in the sight of these glades. Here is one of the most sacred scenes in nearly all incomprehensible Time. See it if you can. Stonestrider.com