After nearly two years of focusing on COVID-19 and working inside 13 different hospitals for the Los Angeles Times, it was finally time to go outside, away from crowds, and take a break from the pandemic.
First stop: the General Grant Tree in snow — sometimes called the nation’s Christmas tree — located in Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.
I was attempting to make my way to General Sherman and other sequoias affected by the KNP Complex fire, but the road between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park remains closed due to inclement weather.
General Grant did not disappoint. The tree is about 268 feet high, and the circumference of the trunk is 107 feet, second in size only to General Sherman.
The crowd was minimal and the path slow due to ice, allowing me to focus both on the details of the icicles dripping from moss and the giant Sequoia in the snow.
Yosemite took my breath away. My first visit. Ancient giant granite cliffs. Snow-covered meadows. Ice weighing down the pine needles. The rush of the waterfalls breaking the silent air. I am already planning my second visit.
And lastly, a brief stop to photograph trees affected by the Caldor fire near Martin Meadows, about 35 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The Caldor fire burned 221,835 acres in the fall of 2021. Recent storms have dropped multiple feet of snow, with more on the way.
My spirit feels rejuvenated having a few days void of focusing on COVID-19.
During winter’s solstice, I took the long drive home through fog on icy roads. It gave me time to reflect on the impermanence of life, the inevitability of death and the continuum of hope during my brief excursion from the city.
General Grant is about 3,000 years old. El Capitan in Yosemite Valley was formed roughly 200 million years ago. And one day children will again play in the forests scarred by fire. We will get past the pandemic in time. And I felt at peace having spent time in nature.
“In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” — John Muir
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