“Old Friend” in Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks

From St. George, UT (this was weeks ago at this point – I’m way behind) Dustyn and I booked it out to California. We marveled at the rock mountains of Arizona before finally stopping for the night in the Mojave. My tent almost blew away, but that was the peak excitement of the night.

We made it into Sequoia National Park the next day. Even though I spent the first eleven years of my life in California, I’d never been to the Sierra Nevadas before. At last, twelve years after moving away I finally laid my eyes on them.

‘Woah Dude’ in Sequoia

Driving through the Giant Forest, known for its grove of the world’s largest trees, while blasting my Magic Vibes playlist was a surreal experience. The light was fading and the people were gone. We had the park almost to ourselves, it felt. We found a pullout and I pitched my tent behind a boulder.

‘Last Light on the Lookout’ at Buck Rock

We explored the park on foot the next day. I’d been in contact with Brent, a long-time friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen since before I moved. He’s been working in Sequoia for the past four summers and we’d planned on meeting up in a few days. In the meantime, he’d recommended to us one of the few sport climbing crags in the park.

‘Painted Sky’ at Buck Rock

Thus we found ourselves bewildered at Buck Rock. There were sport lines here, surely, but none that appeared you could descend from after reaching the anchors. Rather, it looked like you were supposed to top out and scramble down what looked like class 5 rock. Without knowing the proper beta, we decided against taking our chances and enjoyed the view over ramen noodles instead.

‘Granite Floor’ taken above Tokopah Valley

Elsewhere we found ourselves on a 10-mile hike up to and back from Emerald Lake. The sweeping granite landscape at the valley ridge was a sight to behold. Ripping waterfalls cut through the rock in all directions, and we could hear them distinctly from thousands of feet above. Once at Emerald we napped on the rock and numbed our feet in the icy water.

‘Ice Bath’ taken at Emerald Lake

King’s Canyon, home to the tallest peak in the lower 48, is almost all backcountry. We rode a path to Road’s End that opens up with a trailhead into the mountains beyond. We merely got a taste of the full scope that King’s wilderness has to offer. I’ll be back.

‘Glacial Sculptures’ in King’s Canyon

Our last day in the park we spent with Brent. We showed up to his camp at 8 AM sharp and woke our bodies up over some warm coffee. Before long, he piled onto the bed in the back of my car so the three of us could make the bumpy ride to the trailhead for Weaver Lake together.

‘Long Time Homies’ at Weaver Lake

We crushed the trail, cruising at a breakneck pace while passing the time with inspired chatter of stories, thoughts, and ambitions. At the lake we made seats out of rocks and chilled in content happiness for a good while. I seized the opportunity to wash a layer of dirt off my legs. Eventually we made our way back down the trail so Brent could make it back in time for a meeting at camp.

Twelve years apart but we picked up right where we left off. I can’t overstate how awesome it was to reconnect with him. We’ll see each other again soon.

Woke up in the Mojave Desert.

Sleeping in Sequoia National Park.

Over 300 miles.

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