Bees, Bears and Bratwursts - Family Travel Part 2: Sequoia NP

City-raised girls brought into nature by a mountain-raised dad.

The temptation to open with a John Muir quote is very strong.

I'll resist.

I hadn't spent much time in the Sequoias or Kings Canyon as a kid, most of my time was on the other side of the mountains. But when August/September rolls around I get an unbearable itch to get upwards. Somewhere I can get at least a hint of changing seasons, either the color of the trees or the crisp morning breath and the warmth of coffee in my hands. My girls are satisfied with central heating and blankets and beds and 80° temperatures year round, but you wont learn one of the best lessons camping in the stars and dirt can teach you: 

How to be together.

I don't mean "be together" I mean "be" together. How to, as a family, just sit around with some crappy fireplace food, smelling like last night, looking as haggard as wild beasts, and watch the sun paint the morning scene on the tips of trees. So much of life is spent performing or preparing or trying to be a certain thing, and those early morning camp breakfasts have a unique way of stripping us of pretense and letting us just be.

We drove from our campsite at Dorst Creek up to Lodgepole and the General Sherman area every day we were there. The half hour drive was a great buffer zone between whatever frustrated inconvenient morning struggles happened and a day of walking beside and beneath the giants. We didn't have exact areas we wanted to go, and carrying a human on our backs and one with limited patience at our sides we weren't able to do some of the longer hikes I normally would. We spent our first night hiking out to Sunset Rock. The hike and destination felt very reminiscent of Taft Point in Yosemite, which we had done the year before. It is a flat hike and ends at a great spot to set up a meal or end of the day relaxing spot.

The following day we did the short hike to General Sherman and walked around the paths there. In our house we talk a lot about conservation and caring for the planet and when we are there and see giant fire scars on the trees and look at the devastation of the bark beetle infestation and the impact of the draught in California it puts a memory to those facts. We continue to talk about how to care for this nature while smelling the pine needles. 

My childhood was filled with discussions about nature followed by trips to it.

We would learn about Native American history and culture then hike out to see the petroglyphs in the rocks. That's how real care and connection gets done. The night ended with us walking up to Moro Rock where from the top we could see a lot of the peaks and summits that we typically see driving up the 395. It was fun to be able to point out that directly on the opposite side of the mountains from where we were standing was Alabama Hills which is where I took my oldest on her first night of non-beach tent camping.

The sun backed away behind the blue and purple layered hills and shined it's last on the tips of the red and dead trees behind us. By the last night the meat bees weren't more than a nuisance. The morning cold, buzzing nature, and stale tortillas were missed as we drove away. 

The inconvenience was again transformed into a memory that we carry with more longevity than the indoor summer months before it.


They may never like or appreciate those early morning mountainous inconveniences which kept my heart soft towards the world but they will at least be a few less people in the world that live as though these places don't exist.

Published: December 6, 2016

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Ryan LongneckerExplorer

Los Angeles