As I stomp my snow shoes through the snow, forging my own path on top of the deep powder beneath me, a subtle crunch is amplified by the tranquil forest around me. The small vibrations resonate up the trees releasing the large lumps of snow resting on the branches. White bricks come crashing down around me.
Once the snow settles, the forest returns to the quiet wonderland it is. I clap my hands as hard as I can, and after the echo dies down, the bombardment of snow comes from practically every tree in the forest. Near and far, small and large, the noise of thuds and sizzles create a wall of sound.
Sequoia National Park sits in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The park is home to some of the largest trees on earth! To get to the good groves of sequoias in the Giant Forest, you need to drive up a rather long and winding road uphill gaining close to 5,000 ft in elevation starting from the park entrance in the foothills.
GPS Video of the road upto the Giant forest
I was able to drive into the park and begin my ascent for 13 miles, reaching 5,000 ft in elevation before being required to pull to the side and put on my tire chains.
Tire chains are a requirement when driving around the park at higher elevations. If you plan to visit the park, and don't own your own set of chains, I had noticed on my drive through Three Rivers, the town just outside of the park, that they sold and rented chains at numerous locations.
While most of the roads are maintained, the main roads plowed and de-iced, I did have to lend assistance to two different drivers during my day in the park. One who seemed to slide into a snow bank on the side of the road, which if it hadn't been there, the truck would've dropped into a ditch. The other car was a young couple and their son as they had issues with their tire chains they rented. The chain had popped off one of the tires as the fitting wasn't quite right on a side road not plowed.
Last year we saw almost every record get shattered in terms of precipitation up in the Sierras.
This winter though, Sequoia hadn't received much at all until this most recent snowfall. It is a very welcome sight for the park to receive this recent snow, and with more snow in the forecast at higher elevations, these giant trees, and the visitors that come to experience the park in the snow will sure be happy.
The rangers that I talked to had mentioned that they were happy to see the snow in the park, and that if I had visited the park just a week earlier, I would have left with a bunch of springtime photos instead.
One ranger said that since this was the first time they really had to shovel in front of the Giant Forest Museum Visitor Center, they didn't seem to mind it much. He said that this time last year they were having to shovel every single day as the park got almost non stop snow storms.
The temps sat around the mid 40's which caused a lot of the snow at the tops of the trees to start to melt as the day went on. Some areas of the forest seemed as though it was raining as I hiked through.
The National Parks do wonders for bringing people out into the natural world and trying something new. Even for me, having been to Sequoia National Park numerous times, I felt like I was experiencing the park for the first time, a whole new world in the snow. I was even able to try snow shoeing for the first time.
I can't adequately describe the excitement I felt during my day in the snowy park, from the first moment I made it up to the Giant forest, to the last rays of light slicing through the trees. It comes as no surprise for anyone that knows me that I love our National Parks, but on this trip I still felt the joy that I had the very first time I started going to these parks. I was able to take the mere 4 hour drive from LA to get up to the park and explore a whole new world, even if it was only just for the day.