You have to be committed to push a stroller along a rocky mountain trail for two miles up and down a small canyon, while wearing flip-flops. Or maybe you just need to be committed.
The trail began as a three-foot-wide pathway made of packed decomposed granite and turned to asphalt for a short distance. As we ventured further into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest, however, the trail turned to dirt and quickly narrowed to the width of a footpath. It led through some dense underbrush, which appeared impassable with the stroller. We had apparently reached the terminus of our great adventure just a few yards beyond the paved walkway.
I considered our limited options for a moment before deciding to ditch the stroller. We’d march ahead, and when the time came, I’d carry Little Ms. E on my shoulders for a bit. But immediately after walking through the narrow brushy section the trail opened up. I had her wait while I went to get the stroller and I tossed our water bottle on the ground near her as I turned back.
With Little Ms. E back in the saddle we were rolling again. I forced the stroller across off camber sections leaning over steep slopes, pressing it against the hillside and fighting the pull of gravity, and I pushed it up and over and over and down bouldery step-like sections, and rammed it through several narrow brushy spots barely wide enough to pass through. We made good use of the stroller’s five point harness and its rear suspension.
In one part, where the trail passed between two trees, we had to push our way up the bank a few feet through the twigs and needles and around one tree and back down onto the trail. In another part, squeezing between a tree and a granite outcrop, I had to fold the stroller up and carry it through. But that was as rough as it got.
When we stopped for a break, and I eagerly went for the water, I realized that I’d forgotten to pick up the bottle after getting the stroller. And so we went without a drink for the couple of hours we were out. We passed by several clear flowing streams and I regretted not having my pocket-sized water filter.
As we crested a slope coming out of the canyon we came upon the collection of bedrock mortars we set out to see. The mortars overlooked a brook trickling clear cold water through a crease in the granite-capped mountainside.
As we explored the land surrounding the mortar site two people came walking down the trail. They sauntered by and we exchanged a few friendly words. The lady had seen me taking photos and when she saw a pine cone a moment later she insisted I take a picture of it. The cone was sitting nearly upright with its tip pointing into the air. The lady went on to explain with great enthusiasm that she could tell the pine cone had rooted into the soil because of the way it was sitting. She thought pine cones were actually seeds themselves like a coconut or something.
On our way back down the trail my daughter spotted a marmot. On our way up the trail she had pointed out a bear walking through the woods behind me. I’m typically an observant person and I put a premium on situational awareness, but I’ve apparently got work to do on this front. Nevertheless, I was happy to see Little Ms. E keeping her surroundings in focus.
Going downhill on our way back was considerably easier and quicker, of course. We seemed somewhat far away on the hike up the quiet canyon to the mortars, having left the throngs of tourists behind, but following the quick walk down the mountain it seemed we had hardly gone anywhere. How ever far it may have been, though, it may as well have been another planet for Little Ms. E, who was seeing things for the first time.
The General Sherman giant Sequoia tree is estimated to be 2300 to 2700 years old and is considered to be the largest tree in the world by volume or the largest living thing on Earth.
General Sherman by the tape:
Height above base: 274.9′
Circumference at ground: 102.6′
Maximum diameter at base: 36.5′
Diameter 60 feet above base: 17.5′
Diameter 180 feet above base: 14
Diameter of largest branch: 6.8′