|Ruthie peeking through the base of a lightning-struck, but very much alive giant sequoia.|
Lets hear it for our National Parks. How fortunate we are to have places of such majesty. Without the protections that preserve these parks we would be visiting golf courses, luxury time-shares, and four diamond resorts. How lucky we in the west are. Think of Europe and take, for example, the Chamonix Valley. That valley has had villages sprinkled through it for a thousand years, long before the idea of national sanctuaries for exquisitely beautiful natural places. The western half of our nation developed rapidly, but at a time when the cultural values of resource exploitation and consumption really took off. Those few but mighty voices, whether driven by passion (as in the case of Muir), or by a more pragmatic and recreational view (Roosevelt), thought brilliantly outside the box. I almost feel as if it's a cultural responsibility to see these places. I know that many of the best days of my life have taken place while adventuring through our National Parks.
Which brings me to the Giant Sequoias at Grant Grove on the border of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. I love this place. I love the feeling of insignificance I get while walking through this hall of gargantuan ancients. This is one of those rare places where the life, and its staggering size and seemingly infinite lifespan, take center stage. I really struggle to comprehend it all, and of course I fail at that. I think of all the fires and lightning-strikes, ferocious winds, frigid winters and dry summers that these trees have experienced. I try to imagine each tree as a delicate biosphere, supporting a dizzying amount of life. I love being reminded that I am but a fleeting whisper in the cosmic scheme.
Anyway, go there. Take your kids there. The true beauty of this grove is impossible to capture with a lens. Ignore the tourists and let your eyes see and your mind appreciate. And think big.
Enjoy the pictures.