The exquisite Sierra Nevada, in the magnificent slopes of California, is the home to some of the oldest living things on earth – the dazzling Giant Sequoia trees, some as old as 3500 years. The stunning facts of these exquisite trees were as overwhelming to me as a 10-year-old, as it is today – and the long dream of experiencing these breathtaking wildernesses came true few days back.
Driving via Three Rivers Visalia through the wild fascinating roads uphill to the Giant Forest is an experience in itself that takes some time to sink in. The gradual change in the landscape around us as we approach is magnificent, the appearance of the trees, the heights, the feeling of suddenly shrinking is so electrifying – one just gets dazed.
The role of forest fires on the lifecycle of the Sequoia trees is interesting. Due to reduction in the number of natural forest fires today, the Park Service executes controlled fires to remove competing vegetation to allow Sequoia seedlings to germinate - which has difficulty otherwise. The Giant Forest Museum is a storehouse of some gripping figures and facts – the Sentinel tree greets all the visitors as we enter the museum, a statuesque of over 250 feet high.
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As we went down from the parking lot via the Sherman Tree Trail, we could feel the energy and excitement around us – the weather felt perfect for visitors, not a surprise given that the Sequoias thrive best in humid climates. When we reached, standing in front of the General Sherman Tree – the magnificence and awe was too much to absorb, and took an hour of lingering around; to really believe it's happening for me. A part of me felt complete. For me, it was always more than a tree. That day I realized it for real. The largest living tree – the all so familiar impressive artistry that we all have craved to see for so long after reading about it in books – right before us.
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The enchanting walks around Sequoia forest, the rousing emotions, the captivating views, the grace and elegance of surviving thousands of years withstanding fires and storms, converted it into a spellbinding magical forest – resulting in an indelible weekend.
The wildlife consists of hundreds of black bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and some friendly rodents. The visitor guide below is really well versed with all the different situations that our curious minds wandered on, and it was interesting to read.