From Kettelman City, we drove up to Sequoia National Park. Enroute, we stopped by to get some munchies to make sure that the kids were not shortchanged :-). Even before we got to the main entrance of the park, we spotted a beautiful lake with scenic mountains in the background and decided to make a small stop. Everyone in the party got to wet his or her feet (except the one person who was wearing his shoes and was too lazy to remove them, aka yours truly). Katya fell in love with the lake because the water temperature was just right. However, we had to move along and so left the lake behind after a few minutes.
At the park entrance, after purchasing an annual pass to the National parks, we got to interact with folks who were taking a survey aimed at improving the customer service. We got out of our car, and got photos with the Sequoia chief’s signpost. Also, got a good look at the stream flowing right by the road and the mountains surrounding the park.
The giant sequoias are the most massive trees on the planet and among the oldest as well. Some of them are estimated to be over 2000 years old. Can you imagine seeing trees that were just starting to sprout from seeds in the years of Alexander the Great?!
The unique environment of this area of the country lends itself to these trees. According to the guides and the signs all over the park, though the Redwood trees elsewhere in the state are taller, in terms of overall volume, nothing beats the giant sequoias. Many of the trees have been given names after hardy American generals of the past. The most famous among them is General Sherman (most massive of them all) and General Grant (most wide at the base). Tourists typically spend time walking around the Sequoia groves marvelling at these giants that dwarf the humans. What is really surprising is that apparently the roots of these trees extend only a few feet (or a couple of metres) underground. On the other hand, they do spread wide – as wide as an acre, we were informed – and the reason they go straight up is to quickly gain access to the sunlight in competition with their neighbouring sequoias.