When you think about mountain towns in the summer, your brain fills with images of outdoorsy people – gearing up for hiking, biking, rafting, etc. When you think of Europeans, a few other stereotypes that might overlap come to mind: they are slower paced and enjoy some of the simpler things in life just a little bit more than us Americans do. When these two thoughts cross, you are met with the Alpine paradise that is the lakefront town of Bled.
You shouldn’t go to Sequoia National Park without a quick visit to Congress Trail. This is probably the most popular trail, but contains a few points of interest that can’t be missed. Luckily, this trail is right off the main road through the park and accessible for everyone. Walking the whole loop can be done quickly and easily as it is only a few miles of fairly flat trail. Even though the path is paved, the forest around it remains virtually untouched and there are many strange arrangements of redwoods standing, fallen, or scarred by fire. Many of the trees are named for presidents and other important historical figures. Here are the highlights…
On our Sequoia National Park Trip, Joe and I tried to see as many different types of scenery as possible. We experienced the far-reaching views from Moro Rock, the impressively large waterfall views of Tokopeh Falls, and saw both the forests and the meadows on this short hike. The majority of the trail is flat, so this hike is great for those who want scenic variety but can’t get into some of the harder-to-reach areas of the park. Bonus: not many people on this trail compared to the more popular ones.
While not quite as famous as the Sequoia’s Morro Rock or General Sherman Tree, Tokopah falls is one of the highlights of the park. From the Lodgepole campground, it’s a short hike along the Kaweah river under the pines and towering granite monoliths to reach this impressive waterfall.
In Sequoia National Park, Moro rock serves two purposes. It’s an obvious centerpiece to the park, towering over the Three Rivers valley and visible for miles around in all directions. But despite the imposing size of this massive slab of granite, it’s also an easily reached viewpoint that can be accessed with just a few minutes of hiking from your car, with views that project all the way to the other side of the Sierras. Unless you have a massive fear of heights or its closed for the winter season, Moro rock should be on your hit list for any visit to Sequoia.
Have you heard about the sharing economy? It’s the latest and greatest phenomenon spawned by the internet, and is all the rage now that social media is old hat. Sharing economy businesses all have a common thread in that they allow users to make use of some excess in their life. Want to rent out a seat at your dining table every time you cook an extravagant meal? You can do that. Got an empty closet that someone can use for storage? It’s now rentable with a few mouse clicks. Have a guest house and live in San Diego? Say hello to your new vacation rental. While none of these activities were technically impossible before, but thanks to the web and the presence of companies that aggregate the things to be shared and ensure accountability for the sharer and the borrower, it’s now realistic for everyone to participate. We jumped into our first foray into the sharing economy with great success.
My life is pretty data driven. If there’s a numerical way to evaluate something, I like to explore that. Sometimes this earns some well deserved eye rolls, when I do things like calculate how much it costs per hour to own a kayak. Of course, we all know that people can be all over the spectrum when it comes to this sort of analysis. I don’t think any of you readers are like this (I mean come on, this is Optimizing Adventure after all), but we all know someone on the opposite end that will go buy toilet paper in a 4-pack at the grocery store each time they need it without a second thought. Funnily enough though, I’ve found one specific area where everyone is data driven.
It’s no secret: if you want to see a showcase of the most beautiful terrain that our country has to offer, you can’t do much better than pointing yourself toward a National Park. Often overlooked for the more well known Yosemite National Park, Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Park is the other reserve set up to showcase the beautiful Sierra Nevadas of California. You enter the park north of Bakersfield, as you drive through the town of Three Rivers which is strung along the North Fork of the Kaweah river.
As we’ve discussed before, one of the best parts of San Diego is that the urban sprawl has left many canyons and peaks free for us to enjoy between patches of development. This applies to North County even more, where most of the newly minted communities have been constructed to include open space from the beginning. Such is the case for the Double Peak trail in San Marcos. Lucky residents of the Twin Oaks Valley neighborhood, where the hike starts, have wide paved paths that are far more substantial than the sidewalks in most communities, and these paths were in wide use when we came along. You start out walking by Discovery Lake, a small fishing pond surrounded by oak trees, walking trails and benches. Climbing uphill towards the Double Peak summit, you pass nicer and nicer houses through the neighborhood trail system, until you leave the development behind, thankfully exchanging the paved trail for dirt.
In the time between the end of my summer internship and the start of school, I was able to visit my family in Arizona. After a fun trip to Lake Powell and then Fossil Creek, we took off for a camping trip. Though we were only gone for five days, we enjoyed Telluride, Moab, and Monument Valley. I took some pictures on my phone to share.