Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, and Camping in Sequoia National Forest

Hello friends,

Fall has arrived in Minneapolis once again. The extremities of the sugar maples are starting to turn red and the oaks are finally losing their dark green luster. The weather has cooled down considerably, thus resulting in the exponential increase of cardigans and cute scarves. It’s a good problem to have while living in Minneapolis. I’ve kept myself busy with applying for jobs, visiting with friends, and hiking at nearby state parks. I recently visited Interstate State Park with a bunch of counchsurfers and got great views of the fall colors, while also making new friends. Before then, I visited the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with my mother, which is a must-do before the leaves fall!

Well, in my last post, I wrote about my experiences hiking in Zion National Park and finding dinosaur footprints at the Warner Valley Dinosaur track site. Goodness, it’s been over a month since I got back home, but it only feels like last week that I was in that Nissan Versa with my brother, traversing the southwestern states.

Hiking in SedonaHiking nearby our Aunt and Uncle’s House

Well, after getting our pictures taken with the dinosaur tracks, Jamie and I found our way south to Sedona. We have an aunt and uncle there and decided to recuperate for a couple evenings with them. I had never been to Sedona and was very surprised by how green it was. Also, it is very scenic; the whole city is surrounded by beautiful red rock formations, creating this beautiful juxtaposition of lush green plant life and bright red/orange rock. If you find yourself in the area, I’d recommend stopping by and experiencing it for yourself.

After a couple days, Jamie and I said goodbye to our family and headed back north towards the famous Grand Canyon National Park. We only had a couple hours to spend there, but we thought it would be worth it to visit. Friends and family who had been there before told Jamie and I that it is like standing in front of a green screen, and they were right. When we got to the edge, it really did look unreal.

The Grand CanyonOne of the many viewpoints from our trip to the Grand Canyon

We followed the path that paralleled the edge of the cliff and couldn’t keep our eyes away. We followed the crowds to the several viewing stations and got a few photos of us posing, looking towards the Colorado River below. We couldn’t stay long because we were hoping to make it to Sequoia National Forest by the following afternoon, so we did a quick tour of the main area and then had to say goodbye to the Grand Canyon. Though I could only be there for a couple hours, I look forward to camping overnight and backpacking into the canyon someday.

Jamie and I got back on the road, our goal being to drive as far west as we possibly could. By the time we were reaching Barstow, CA we had almost reached our driving limit (I could barely keep my eyes open). I did a quick search of hotel/motels in the local area and found Historic Route 66 Motel. It had good reviews, so I made the executive decision to sleep there that evening and I’m glad we did. It had clean beds, a warm shower, and a helluva a lot of character. The customer service desk was covered in trinkets and the parking lot was full of antique cars, some were even filled with retro dolls and clothing.

Route 66 Motel

Route 66 Motel

We slept like babies that night and woke up bright and early to start the long incline up the mountain pass towards Sequoia National Forest. We didn’t make any camping reservations, but I looked up a few campgrounds that had good reviews and saw that there was a trail called the Trail of 100 Giants. It seemed right up our alley, so Jamie and I drove towards there. After a few hours of winding roads, we found the trailhead and saw that there was a campground just across from it call Redwood Campground. We decided to stay there that evening and then picked our campsite and unpacked our gear. We were so antsy from being in the car all day that we immediately got on trail. It was so fun to walk beneath the Sequoia trees. Whenever I walk in a forest, I always feel so humbled. Well, in this forest, I felt even more humbled.

Jamie and the trees

Just for some comparison

If you haven’t experienced a Sequoia, then maybe it would be hard to comprehend the sheer immensity of how big one is. On average, they can be 20-26 feet wide, but they can get as big as 56 feet in diameter. On average, they reach heights of 164-290 feet, but the tallest one reaches to 311 feet tall. I don’t think Jamie and I witnessed any record setting trees while on trail, but we got to see some exceptional ones, even one that had fallen pretty recently. I climbed on top of it and spent a long while appreciating the moment. It’s not everyday that you get to climb onto a fallen sequoia.

I knew I would be back on trail tomorrow, so we walked back to our camp and saw another tent. We soon realized we wouldn’t be alone that evening, which came to a surprise; a good surprise. Then a whole carload of young people got out of a car and introduced themselves. They all looked college aged (maybe a few were graduated) and seemed ready to party. Little did Jamie and I know, but we would relive our college days in the middle of Sequoia National Forest, beer pong and all!

Beer pong in the woods?!

Playing beer pong with new friends

I would’ve never thought I’d ever play beer pong while out in the middle of the woods, but when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t say no. Though I didn’t go hard like the youngsters, I did enjoy almost “crushing” a gentleman with a large ego at beer pong. My brother and I were so close to beating the self-proclaimed beer pong masters. Alas, we did lose, but luckily we were avenged by a lovely couple from Santa Barbara. I’m glad Jamie and I got at least one good experience hanging out with strangers while camping. The last few times we camped while on the road, we didn’t see anyone, so it was refreshing to have so many people to chat with.

Relaxing in the hammock

Chilling in the hammock, playing an epic round of Monster Hunter

The following day, Jamie and I split and did our own things. I walked the 100 Giant trail again, appreciating the beautiful sequoias. I also wrote in my journal and read my book while in my hammock. Then, Jamie and I decided to drive down the road to the local town. We found a bar/store and bought some stuff, and realized there was a horseshoe field in the back. I hadn’t played in years, so Jamie and I tried our best to get a ringer. Sadly, neither of us succeeded, but I got really close. That evening, the youngsters were pretty pooped, so there wasn’t a party like the night before, so Jamie and I relaxed at our campsite and looked up at the stars. We chatted till the early evening and then retreated to our respective beds; for me, my hammock and for Jamie, my tent.

While swinging in the hammock, I tried to be intentional with my thoughts and senses. I wanted to remember the smells, the sights, and everything in between about that very moment. I could smell the dry air, full of dust and dry detritus; I could see the milky way through the pine trees that supported my hammock; and I could feel the crisp air cool my exposed cheeks. At that very moment, I was very happy.

Thanks for reading! In my next post, I’ll finish off my road trip series and show you guys the video I made documenting the whole thing.

All the best,

-Molly

Jamie and posing at the grand canyonAw, aren’t we so cute?

One Comment on “Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, and Camping in Sequoia National Forest

  1. Pingback: Monterey Bay, Big Sur, and a Short Film Summing Up My Road Trip | Molly's Journey to the West

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