The California Blog: Lose Yourself In Sequoia

DSC_0354 copyAfter finishing our tour of Crystal Cave (Read about that blog here!), and eating lunch (should I mention that I stumbled upon a bee hive, and got stung three times? Ah, that will be a good story to tell one day. haha. My fault for wandering off trail.)  We set out to enjoy the Sequoias. We decided to take Congress Trail, which is located near the General Sherman Tree Which we had seen the previous day (Want to read about that, too? Click here). The trail was an easy walk, we took our time and spent the rest of the day amongst these trees.
I really enjoyed how the shadows and burns of the sequoias played a large part in the beauty of the trees, as if the dark shadows and burns just made you appreciate the depth of color of the bright red bark.

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On this trail we truly got to see what the forest fires do to these trees. Oddly enough though, the fires are necessary for their survival. By burning the accumulating down branches, litter, and duff, the fires allow the seeds to reach mineral soil. And in heating the soil, the fire changes the texture of the soil in a way which allows the seeds to be covered by a few millimeters of it.

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Timing of the burn is important, though! One experimental burn took place in August, 1969. Allowing two months of seed fall before winter. On plot #3, which was burnt the hottest, more than 40,000 sequoia seedlings per acre were found, while on plots 1 and 2 which were lighter burned, about only 13,000 per acre germinated. The three burnt plots averaged in nearly 22,000 sequoia seedlings per acre.

Not a single sequoia seedling was found on the unburned control plot.

I had expected the sequoias to have a smooth texture, like most trees do. Perhaps an even harder bark to resist catching fire. To my astonishment, they have a surprisingly fibrous, dry, hair-like bark. Something akin to a coconut’s fibrous  layer.
DSC_0296 copy    And somehow this bark prevents the trees from burning down. The scars they do receive from the fires are impressive. Some trees are hollow, but still live and grow.DSC_0324 copy         You could walk right through this tree, which I did, and got this shot:
DSC_0326 copy                                           The inside had been hollowed out, perfect for making a tunnel.  Sequoia With Scar

And from the other side the scar slid up the tree. As if this tree’s tunnel and scars weren’t enough, it was also growing upon some stones!
DSC_0320 copyWhat an interesting tree. DSC_0331 copyThis next one had a peep hole. See that log in the bottom right corner? That’s a regular tree. These trees were all massive.

DSC_0277 copyAlong the way, we spotted this man taking a nap a little ways off the path. He looked so comfortable, and peaceful. I can only imagine what delightful rest the forest would offer. I do find it hard to believe that he looks so tranquil when he’s using a stone as a pillow. I thought I was a deep sleeper!

And with that we wrapped up Congress Trail.
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My friend who is very fond of rivers spotted part of this one from the road. It was really breath taking.
DSC_0366 copyThe water was beautifully clear. I decided to dunk my feet in, and watched small fish congregate around my toes.

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The small town of Exeter lays outside of Sequoia. It’s a really cute quaint town. I absolutely enjoyed walking through it, we decided to stop by Sunday before leaving. If you want to enjoy the shops, you’d be better off going on saturday. Everything closes on sunday. I shaped a few photos I wanted to share.
DSC_0379 copy_This is it DSC_0373 copy_Fotor DSC_0380 copy_Fotor DSC_0381 copyI loved all the murals around this little town.

That concludes our Sequoia trip!

Tell me in the comments below what’s your favorite town to have visited. Have you ever seen the sequoias with their great scars?

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The California Blog: 2 Million Years Of Crystal Cave

DSC_0055_FotorWe arose early on day two in hopes of getting tickets for a tour of Crystal Cave. If any of you ever get the chance to visit Sequoia, I highly recommend seeing Crystal Cave. We stopped by the Foothills Visitor Center (inside the park) and bought our tickets which cost $15 ea. We were soon back on the Generals Highway ( it’s the road that I mentioned in my last post) and on our way to the Crystal Cave. The dive took us about 45-50 mins.
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We stored our food in a bear safe storage box, and waited a few minutes for our tour to commence.  Before we made our way down a half mile trail to Crystal Cave, we were asked to sanitize our shoes by stepping in a solution of Lysol. This was to prevent White-nose syndrome, a fungus that grows on the face of bats. It has become more popular over the years, wiping out entire colonies of bats. It is a very sad fate that the bats suffer. The half mile trail is a beautiful scenic trail, with a few waterfalls along the way.

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The outside walls of the cave.

Crystal Cave is a marble karst cave. It is one of at least 240 known caves in the park. The cave is a constant 48 °F, which after a 45 min tour, you’ll be grateful that you brought a jacket or sweater.
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During the tour we were told many interesting stories or facts. Amongst the impressive facts we were told, the one that impressed me the most was that the cave is estimated at being 2 million years old. I was completely awestruck. This was my first time inside a cave, but besides that, it was a 2 million year old cave. Think about this, what is the oldest thing you’ve ever seen? Touched? I was inside something that had been around for so long, I only wished I could know all the stories which it hid. What had been inside it before me? I’ll never see anything so old again, and it was magnificent. There aren’t many words I can use to describe how entranced I was by Crystal Cave.
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At one point during the tour we entered a chamber, and were told that all sources of lighting would be turned off so we could appreciate how dark the cave is, and if we could all turn off/ put away anything that would have a light.
I think for the first time in my life I experienced true darkness.

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I raised my hand before my face, and could not see a thing. I blinked a couple times, just to make sure I had my eyes open. How do you describe nothing? I don’t know, but I never experienced such omnipresent darkness. As a result, I became hyper aware of the sounds around me. I could hear water dripping in the distance, then echoing, and realized that we must be in a big chamber. Bigger than the other ones we had previously been inDSC_0157 copy.

When the lights came on, we were greeted with this magnificent chamber. It was, in fact, the largest we had been in.DSC_0193 copy

DSC_0145 copyWhen the tour was over, we made our way up the trail, and back to the car. We were heading to the Congress Trail next. Come back next week to read about it! I’m splitting this day in two parts. I have a lot of pictures and didn’t want to have to cut some out for fear of this post being too long.

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Have you been to a cave before? Let me know in the comments where! I’d love to know. I enjoyed the Crystal Cave so much I’m interested in seeing more caves. 

The California Blog: Beautiful Sequoia, The Magnificent Forest.

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Recently I was visiting California. I’ve never been to the west coast before, so it was such an adventure for me. One of the places that I saw that left me in awe, that I will never forget, was Sequoia. This will be a little series of mine, about my Sequoia trip. As some of you know, we usually write about Costa Rica, but while my mother is away I will be sharing my experiences from my trip with you all.
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As we set off on out trip to Sequoia, I was really excited. First of all, we would be heading through  a semi desert. I was so excited because I have never seen anything that resembles a desert.Sequoia Ride.DSC_3164


After a three and a half hour drive, and a stop to drop suitcases off at the hotel,  we made it to Sequoia! Sequoia National park is located in the southern portion of the sierra Nevada, and it houses the largest trees in the world, along with THE largest tree, which all can be found between the elevations of 4,000 – 8,000 feet.  Though the largest trees; they are not the tallest (which is hard to believe after one has seen the massive size of these trees!) The tallest are their distant cousins called the coast redwoods. The largest sequoia (Sequoiadendron  giganteum), is named General Sherman. It is the largest tree by volume in the world.  It is 274 feet high and 36.5 feet in diameter at the base. It weighs aprox.  1,400 tons. and is estimated at being 2,300- 2,700 years old! Many of the sequoias I pictured are at least 1,500 years old, but sequoias can live for 3,000 years.  Only the bristlecone trees live longer than the sequoias, making the sequoias one of the longest living trees on earth. I thought that was really neat. It made me think: How many things have I seen in my life that are living after 1,500 years? None. It was beautiful and breathtaking.DSC_3257

Notice the people at the bottom right corner? They were so small in comparison to the General Sherman.

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Compared to the Costa Rican national parks which I am used to, Sequoia felt oddly full. Granted, it was the last week summer break. The paths were paved with asphalt, and it was a very easy walk down to the General Sherman. Many people visit with young children. The walk back up to the parking might be slightly harder, but at least you’ll be taking deep breaths of the pristine cool cedar air! It’s wonderful.

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I snapped a picture of this guy on the way up.
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I was so glad that I had decided on taking my wide angled lens when I was packing for California! I hadn’t be expecting the Sequoia trip, and I can only imagine how upset I would have been if I had missed out on the opportunity to photograph these beauties!
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Because we had made the long drive there that day, we arrived in the afternoon. We decided not to waste any time and at least see the General Sherman the on the first day, and leave the rest for the next day.
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From the entrance of the park, the drive to the General Sherman was about 30- 45min  along a winding road. I thought that from living in Costa Rica I’d be more than prepared for the road, but it even made me feel a little car sick. DSC_0027 DSC_3182
We were about half way down, back towards the entrance, when we pulled over so my friend could take a little break. She had been trying to read as we made our descent, and needed a little break to get rid of her car sickness. While she laid down a moment, I was able to snap a picture of this view.MPM Productions-Escondido Entre Montañas
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We piled back into the car, and started out again only to find this little guy a little farther down the road

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It had been walking across the road when it was spotted, and we pulled over to check him out. A Tarantula!

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I snapped this one from the car window once we existed the park, and made our way towards the hotel. That concluded day one of the trip, come back for the next part!

Have any of you been to Sequoia? If not, leave a comment about your favorite National park! It can be anywhere in the world. If you’ve written about it, link it below! I’d love to  read about it. My favorites definitely have to be Tapantí (We wrote a blog about it click here to read about it!) and Sequoia.