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Published: October 18th 2014
Yosemite National Park
View over a valley in Yosemite
Big mountains, big trees and big deserts
One of the things we really liked about California was the diversity of places worth visiting. We visited big cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, we saw the fascinating home of Sarah Winchester and the dramatic coastline of Big Sur and we went to the ghost town Bodie. Now in this final blog entry from California we will write about the magnificent national parks Yosemite, Giant Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Death Valley.
Yosemite National Park
First we went to Yosemite National Park. To best appreciate Yosemite you need to spend more time there than we did. We basically went in, saw a few easily accessible sights and then went out again. "Big mistake! Big! Huge!" as Julia Roberts would have put it if she had been writing this instead of us. We would probably have been better off skipping Yosemite altogether on this journey and come back next year or so and take the time to walk some hikes. But then again, there are bears in the park and we don't want to get eaten alive. So doing what we did at least ensured that a mammal of the
A walk on the wild side
Taking our chances at 10 minutes to three in the afternoon. In the daytime the temperatures reach over 45 Celsius in the shade. Temperatures like that can kill a person
family Ursidae that has acquired a taste for human flesh, something that is very rare but has been known to happen, didn't get many chances of turning us into the main course of that day's lunch.
What we did see in Yosemite was mainly nice views and a few waterfalls. However, they had had a drought for a while before we arrived so the water level of the waterfalls was mostly pretty low.
We just have to show you a little video of a squirrel we shot in Yosemite. The squrrel's kittens are happily playing around a few metres away. In the video the squirrel makes a lot of noise to draw attention to itself and by doing that also draws attention away from his/her kittens. When you look at the video make sure to look at the tail...
Sequoia National Park
A national park that is more suited for a the get-in-see-something-very-quick-and-get-out-again-technique we used is the Sequoia National Park. There are few other reasons for going there other than to see some big trees. Once you have seen a couple of those you don't really have to see that many more.
When a Giant Sequoia tree across a road they decided to carve out a tunnel through the log to enable cars to pass. Drive through a tree log - not many places where you can do that.
big trees are the Giant Sequoias also known as the Giant Redwood trees. The most noteworthy individual trees of the Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park are General Sherman and General Grant. They are believed to be the two largest trees in the world, that is the two trees in the world with the largest volume.
The trees in Sequoia NP/Kings Canyon NP are high but not the highest in the highest trees in the world. There are several higher trees in other national parks in other parts of California and also elsewhere in the world. The tallest trees in the world are not Giant Sequoias at all. They are Coastal Redwood Trees which are known to grow to100 metres plus. (Thanks to the reader who pointed out our initial mistake on the various species of trees in California. Now We hopefully got it right though). The trees here in the inland are not as high but what they don't have in length they sure make up in width. The Giant Sequoias grow very thick trunks giving them large volume. General Sherman and General Grant are the two largest trees in the world and they grow in Giant Forest
Yosemite National Park
To best appreciate Yosemite you need to spend more time there than we did. We basically went in, saw a few easily accessible sights and then went out again. "Big mistake! Big! Huge!"
Grove and General Grant Grove respectively. In Giant Forest Grove 10 of the 30 largest known trees in the world can be found.
It is hard to capture in photos how massive the Giant Sequoias really are. Therefore we have added a short film clip we shot in Giant Forest Grove. Maybe it gives you a better idea of the actual size.
A Giant Sequoia tree once fell across a road in Sequoia National Park. Instead of removing the tree they decided to carve out a tunnel through the log to enable cars to pass. Drive through a tree log - not many places where you can do that.
Death Valley National Park
Finally we are going to write about our favourite among the national parks we visited in California - Death Valley National Park
. The intense heat, the rugged terrain, the vast deserts in combination with the wild west legends really appealed to us.
It may be argued that going to Death Valley, one of the hottest places in the world, in July, the hottest month of the year, is not very intelligent. Some may even say it is straight out insane. We prefer to
These boxes are for keeping food items safe from hungry bears.
think that if we are going to a place famous for being hot then we want it to be hot when we get there. We want it to be really hot there. The hotter the better!
The only drawback as we see it is that the high temperatures made it impossible to venture out on any hikes or even to go away from the car more than a few hundred meters. In the daytime the temperatures reach over 45 Celsius in the shade. Temperatures like that can kill a person stranded without water within a day. If you add to the equation that there in Death Valley is no shade to be found you realise that the place is not named Death Valley by a coincidence. People have been known to die from dehydration there and anyone who ventures in unprepared can become yet another casualty of the unforgiving climate there.
A thought: How can they know what the temperature in the shade is when there is no shade to measure the temperature in? Really, there is no shade in Death Valley.
We stopped at several places in Death Valley. One of them was Harmony Borax Works.
Waterfall in Yosemite
In Yosemite we saw a few waterfalls. However, they had had a drought for a while before we arrived so the water level was pretty low.
One of the most profitable businesses in Death Valley in the late 19th century was borax mining. Borax is a crystalline salt which could be used for producing detergents and cosmetics. We have never heard of Borax before so if you haven't either you are in good company.
Devils Golf Course was Another place we visited. It is a former lakebed where there has accumulated large amounts of salt. The soil has cracked and broken up in large chunks. The area reminded us about what a lake can look like if it first freezes over, then a storm breaks up the ice and then the lake freezes over again. Since the soil was so rich in salt it was actually whiteish in colour so the soil literally looked like dirty ice.
The final place in Death Valley we are going mention here is Badwater. At 86 meters below sea level Badwater is the lowest point in North America. It is one of the few places in Death Valley where it is possible to find water. Even in the middle of the summer a small pool of water can be found near the car park.
The Badwater Basin
General Sherman - the biggest tree in the world
is a large salt plain so consequently the water is salty and dangerous to drink. The origin of the same of the place is said to be from when a rider came there riding on the back of a thirsty horse. He led the horse to the water but because of the salt the horse refused to drink. The rider said that the reason the horse didn't drink was that is was bad water.
Badwater is and also the starting point of one of the toughest footraces in the world - Badwater Ultramarathon. The race is 217 km long and they run in July, the hottest month of the year. We like running but we doubt that we would even be able to run 2.17 km before collapsing from heat stroke.
Unfortunately many of the most interesting places in Death Valley were not accessible to us because the car we had could only be driven on paved roads. To reach for instance some of the abandoned mining towns
or the racetrack playa
we would have needed a four-wheel drive. We guess we will have to come back another year and visit again. We already look forward to that!
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