I have visited Sequoia National Park many times. In fact, if I added up all of the days I’ve spent there it would sum up to at least a couple months time, maybe more. I’ve explored most of the sequoia groves in the park and I keep going back to explore more. I fell in love with the giant sequoias the moment I first saw the Giant Forest. Yes, it was love at first sight. For most people, these huge trees take much longer to wrap their limbs around our heartstrings, especially since they are so unusual and when we are in their forest, we lack a point of comparison to what we already know. I love this otherworldly aspect of them. They are massive aliens to us. They dwarf us in size as well as in age. How could this tree have been standing here when Christ walked the earth? If I touch such a tree will I be a part of those ancient times?
I take a lot of time away from people to walk through the forest. This is tricky in Sequoia National Park because it is incredibly popular, especially in the Giant Forest area where you’ll find the General Sherman tree, the biggest tree on earth. So I travel off-season and on weekdays. You just cannot connect with the forest or any nature if you are surrounded by people. You must get away from familiar faces and the constant din of humanity. Live for the experience of connecting with something different than yourself. Try not to tell anyone about it. Just think for yourself, by yourself. Take the time to stare up at the trees. Try to grasp their size and age. Imagine if big trees covered all the land. Imagine one standing next to your grocery store. Imagine a whole forest shading your home. Were trees there before? What happened to them? Why are most of our amazing trees locked up in national parks? Do we only want trees controlled in tree museums? Could we have them everywhere? Wouldn’t they clean our air and hold some of our carbon? Do they have a mission all of their own, nothing to do with us?
If you walk quietly through Sequoia National Park, you might find yourself asking such questions, and then some. But you must take the time. The giant sequoias are not easy to understand. They are stoic and do not speak to you. They have seen it all already. It’s up to you to reach out to them without expectation of something in return. You will only unintentionally come away enriched. John Muir said “in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Try it. Get away from the crowds and human distractions and walk deep into the woods. You will be forever changed.