Friday, June 26, 2009

Entering the Valley of Death

Such an ominous name. The sun should really be blazing by the time I get there, too, given my late start. My body wasn't made for 120° heat. Humans in general shouldn't dally in conditions like that. It's so dry here that I woke up feeling hung over and I didn't even have a drink last night. Oh yeah, I should mention that I'm in a hotel (thankfully), in Lone Pine, CA. Camping again last night would have been the end of me, so I opted for a shower and a mattress. The continental breakfast was pretty sweet, too.

I'm not sure how long my computer will last (I had it plugged in all night and it reads 0% on the battery meter, I've never seen that), so I'll hit you with a quick photo update. Tonight I'll be around computer-savvy people, so maybe this little problem will pass. Anyway, here are some thousands of words...

The trip's official motto and phrase all decisions must pass through.

A mid-elevation shot of Kings Canyon looking across the river

This is a low-elevation shot looking down the river

Giant Sequoias in Sequoia NP

Crystal Cave in Sequoia NP

Mt. Whitney (from the hotel parking lot)

That brings us to the present. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks have the greatest diversity in the smallest area I've ever seen. The climate goes from lush river bottom to high desert in a couple miles. More giant sequoias than anywhere else. Vast networks of marble caves. Every animal from rattlesnakes to tarantulas to lizards and even mountain lions. Shit, I saw a black bear almost directly across the street from one of the visitors centers. That was enough to make me lose some sleep.

The designations are odd. Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are apparently not the same park, but entry to one gets you the other. An hour's drive might see you cross any number of boundaries to national monuments, national parks, national forests... basically the area is so rad that people just keep setting aside more of it. That's OK by me. The pictures don't do it justice. Get there and see it. It is surely among our nation's most awesome. And I mean that as in it will inspire awe. Your jaw will go slack, you will pause mid-thought, you may be overcome with emotion. This is not the same 'awesome' you would use to describe a rail trick on a snowboard, no matter how many stairs.

I feel like I need to devote more words to these past few days of mine, so don't be surprised when I do. At the very least, I'll share some more pictures. Now, I'm off to Death Valley where it's probably over 100° already...


  1. tarantulas? are you kidding me?

  2. Great pics babe. The "low elevation" one kinda reminds me of Yosemite.


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