With my friend, Jorie, visiting from New York City, I decided to take her to a secluded oasis. Having never been, we hopped in the Subaru in the early morning to make it to Sequoia National Park early enough to grab a walk-in campsite. Driving three hours north, we arrive at the park to learn that campfires are prohibited. With our sour faces, the ranger told us to go up to Kings Canyon National Park, where we could definitely make fires and hopefully find a site. Racing through the park, it took about another hour and a half to reach a campsite with vacancies. We settled into Upper Stoney Creek Campground, a breathtaking area lining a massive creek. Once marking our territory, we ventured to the Sequoia trees! Having never seen one, never mind touching one, we visited the one, the only, General Grant Tree, a prodigious tree found in Kings Canyon with lots of history. The tree was named 'America's Christmas Tree' back in 1925; I can only imagine how glorious it looks basking in sparkling snow. In other news, Sequoia Trees are fuzzy. 

From there, we headed back to our site for dinner and bedtime s'mores and a dip in the creek. On the way back, a bear crossed directly in front of the Subaru! He was a bit too fast for pictures, but that was my first sighting of a bear in the wild.

The next day, we continued north toward Redwood Mountain Grove for a hike. After about an hour, Jorie and I gave in to the heat, and the indecipherable animal howl we were hearing, and turned around to head to the lake.

We made our way to Hume Lake, one of the prettiest places I've come to see in California thus far. Surrounded by tall trees, the large lake was glistening and we swam in its depths the rest of the day. 

After a good night's sleep, we headed out of the park through Sequoia, taking advantage of the hikes and lookouts on our way. The best attraction had to be Moro Rock, a granite dome rock formation with a short, steep climb to the top. Driving to the trailhead was difficult, but once you reach the top of Moro Rock nothing matters aside from the vast beauty you're looking down on. So much of the park is visible and we could admire other peaks in the distance that maybe I'll end up climbing one day.

Overall, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks are incredible. There is so much to see, my senses were on overdrive. Going in June was a good choice too, as the altitude kept the air somewhat cooler and the various lakes could offer ultimate relief after a long day of sightseeing in the sun.