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California Diary | Sequoia National Park and General Sherman

visiting general sherman

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t looking forward to our trip to Sequoia National Park. In fact, when Terry first mooted the idea that we sit in a car for 3.5 hours, just to get out, look at a tree, then drive all the way back again, I was like:

a very bad photo that I can't believe I'm posting

(Thanks for the worst photo of me ever taken, mum! Love you too!)

Ahem.

Anyway, both Terry and my dad have wanted to see General Sherman (Who I persisted in referring to as ‘Ben Sherman’, all day. And that right there tells you all you need to know really, doesn’t it?) since they were little boys, and they’ve now visited pretty much every branch of Sephora in California (plus all of the ones in Florida) just for me, so I couldn’t really complain. I mean, I DID complain, obviously, but inside my own head, mostly, where I was all, “But it’s just a tree? How good can it possibly be?”

The fact is, though – and I realise you already know this, by the way – General Sherman (Or “Ben”, as I like to call him…) is very far from being “just a tree”. It’s a TREE. An OMGLOOKITTHATTREE. It’s … there are really no words for it. The tree – sorry, the TREE – sits in Sequoia National Park, which is amazing in itself. First of all we stopped off at Tunnel Rock, near the entrance to the park:

Tunnel Rock Sequoia National Park

That’s me and Terry on top of it. I’ve no idea what Terry’s doing, I just know I thought this would be the MOST embarrassing photo of the day, until my mum took the one above it: GOD. It was a bit scary on top of the rock, and I’ll just quickly remind you here that Terry is scared of heights, and had found the drive up pretty hairy – FORESHADOWING. (I’m ALSO scared of heights, but only if I’m in a cable car, or on a wobbly building or something, so me and mountains, we’re cool…)

Next, we headed on up the mountain, parked up, quickly scanned the many signs warning us that bears were likely to try to break into our car and eat everything in it, then started out on the short walk to General Sherman (I know neither the actual General or the tree are/were called ‘Ben’, by the way – just thought I should point that out, in case anyone’s thinking I’m ACTUALLY that stupid. Because I’m FAIRLY stupid, true, but not THAT stupid..).

Sherman Tree Trail, California

(So, yeah, obviously not my best look ever, but I got up at 7am to sit in a car for 3.5 hours, then hike through a forest up a mountain: it’s hard even for me to care much about clothes in those circumstances…)

It’s a fairly short walk, which takes you past many giant sequoias – all of which were so huge it was hard to imagine how Sherman could really beat them:

General Sherman

I think it managed though, huh?

Once at the tree, you have to stand in line to have your photo taken in front of it. In the summer, the line can apparently be over an hour long (which is incredible, given that it’s a tree, up a mountain, miles from anywhere), but in September it’s much quieter, and although there were plenty of people around, we only waited for a minute or so to get our photos.

Walking towards the tree, it was impossible not to feel totally awed by the thing. I was very aware that, of all the people in the world, I was at that moment, the person standing next to this incredible, 2,500 (plus) year old living being – which I naturally couldn’t help but assign a personality to. Well, OBVIOUSLY.

“You all said ‘hello’ to the tree as you walked up to it, didn’t you?” I asked the family afterwards. “Er, no?” they all replied. Just me, then: but as I said, it’s a living being, it’s been there for longer than I can even imagine -I think it demands a bit of respect, don’t you? (And actually, most people around were looking at it in silent awe: it felt a little bit like being in a church or something…)

General Sherman at Sequoia National Park, California
Sequoia National Park

I never thought I’d say it, but General, you were worth the drive…

My favourite part of the trip, however, was yet to come, because next up we headed to Moro Rock, which is a rock (well, D’UH) hanging precariously off the side of the mountain. I don’t have any photos of it, because it had started to rain pretty heavily by this point, but Terry strapped the GoPro to his head, and we set off anyway. The rock is steep and high, and, as I said, dangling off the side of a freaking mountain, but there are stairs which take you all the way up it, and a set of handrails which allow you to walk right out onto the top.

Remember how I said Terry is scared of heights?

Well, he was brave: he made it almost to the very top, at which point I took the GoPro, purely so I could film HIM as well as the (amazing) view. There’s a great moment on the resulting video, which he may or may not be persuaded to upload, where I take the camera, and swing it round to reveal Terry hunkered down as low as he could go, clinging to the mountain and swearing like a trooper. Then there’s another few minutes of footage of him crawling back down again, to a soundtrack of my helpless laughter. Sorry, Terry!

Anyway, we didn’t get RIGHT to the top (we probably would have, had it not been for the rain, which made it feel even more treacherous), but the view was absolutely amazing – both you and Terry will just have to take my word for that, but I really enjoyed it, and can’t really begrudge California some much-needed rain. Actually, we were really lucky to be able to see the park at all: other parts were closed due to forest fire, which have absolutely devastated this part of the world, so I really hope that rainfall helped, and that there’s more to come. I also hope that one day I get to come back, climb that rock, and say another hello to my old friend “Ben”…

Sequoia National Park

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9 Comments
  • Wendy
    September 22, 2015

    I. Am. So. Jealous. It’s on my bucket list to see those beautiful trees up close. Living in the UK though means it would take some time and a lot of money to get there.

    Wendy Xx

    http://www.bumpkinbroke.com

  • Anna
    September 22, 2015

    Hi Amber, look like Terry was enjoying himself. xx

  • CiCi Marie
    September 22, 2015

    Ah no, poor Terry! I’m in his category of height phobia, the kind where it scares me to even read about someone else experiencing heights… I probably would have been more bawling my eyes out than swearing, though…

  • Madge
    September 22, 2015

    Hi Amber,

    Thanks for sharing your photos! I’ve always wanted to go and I’m hoping to do so next year. I’m a nature girl at heart and love to visit beautiful, scenic places.

  • Anca
    September 22, 2015

    Sounds like fun 🙂 The picture on the rock is fab, I love it.

  • Louise
    September 23, 2015

    When we were in Scotland recently there was a giant Sequoa in a forest near Loch Ness. We were amazed by that but in comparison to that astounding tree, it was a shrub! What a fantastic thing to see. Xx

    • Amber
      September 23, 2015

      Yeah, the ones in Scotland are tiny in comparison, and most of those are at least a few hundred years old – Sherman is just another league!

  • Suzy Turner
    September 23, 2015

    I love trees… all kinds of trees… big ones, small ones, brown ones, green ones, wide ones, thin ones. Ok you get the picture… but I’ve never been to see ‘Ben’ Sherman. I so wanna go!! Must add to bucket list 😉
    Suzy x
    http://www.suzyturner.com

  • Heather
    September 27, 2015

    Redwoods are just the best 🙂 I’ve yet to see this particular tree, despite living in California my whole life, but it’s on my list (eventually!). My grandpa had built his house in the redwoods near me and I just loved going for walks around there.

AD | Time for a quick game of “Where’s Amber?”⁣
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It’s another rainy Monday, so I’m throwing it back to our trip to @universalorlando ‘s amazing Volcano Bay water park last month. I’m a bit of a scaredy when it comes to water flumes, but this park had tons of stuff for pretty much everyone: plenty of rides for me, and an amazing splash pad for Max 👶In fact, I’d still be on The Fearless River right now if I possibly could be. Still, doing the laundry and turning the heating on will be just as good, right? Right?! 🌋 🏊‍♀️ .
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#universalorlando #volcanobay #waterpark #lazyriver #vacay #floridavacay

AD | Time for a...

Good news! We took Max to hospital this morning, and saw two different surgeons, who agreed there was no need to go ahead with the surgery as his lip is healing really well on its own 😅  He’ll definitely have a scar, unfortunately, but that would’ve been the case whether he’d had the surgery or not, and if it turns out to be worse than anticipated, we’ll have the option to have it corrected under local anaesthetic when he’s older. ⁣
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I’m still really upset that this happened in the first place, obviously, but so relieved that we don’t have to put him through a general anaesthetic, and just incredibly grateful that it wasn’t anything worse. I know some parents have to deal with much more serious stuff than this, and my heart goes out to you all: it’s been a rough couple of days, and I’m really grateful to everyone who took the time to comment on yesterday’s post - your stories were so comforting when I was panicking yesterday ❤️ ⁣
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(Old photo, obviously: every time Max sees the selfie camera, he thinks it’s going to be one of those filters where you open your mouth and something happens 😂)⁣
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#pbloggers #mummybloggers #mummybloggersuk #ukmumblog #mumblogsuk #mumblogs #mamablog #ukparentbloggers #parentbloggersuk #ukparentingblog #parentingbloggers #motherhoodblogger #motherhoodblog #ukblogger #ukofficialblogger #happyblogger #mummyblog #bloggerclubuk #instamum

Good news! We took Max...

Totally unrelated photo, but we’ve just spent the morning in Accident & Emergency with Max, who fell on the path outside the house and split his lip open 😥 ⁣
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They tried to stitch it up at A&E, but it was totally impossible with him awake, so they’ve booked him in to have it done under general anaesthetic tomorrow ... Max is absolutely fine: the bleeding stopped quickly, he doesn’t seem to be in pain, and is just his normal, happy little self. I, on the other hand, am a complete wreck: the plastic surgeon he saw today reckons if we don’t have it fixed, his lip will be crooked when it heals, but I’m absolutely *terrified* of the thought of my baby having to have a GA. ⁣
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If you’re a long-time follower, you might know that I have a full-blown phobia of general anaesthetic (I literally had an elective c-section in order to eliminate the possibility of an emergency one, which might have had to be done under GA), so I just can’t get my head to accept that it’s safe and he’ll be fine 😥 ⁣
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Positive stories and advice very welcome: I’m just so terrified, I can’t even imagine how to get through the next 24 hours 😥😥😥

Totally unrelated photo, but we’ve...

#throwbackthursday to last week, when I needed a sunhat and SPF 50 to leave the house, rather than the current raincoat and wellies situation. Can you tell the post-holiday blues are still in full swing over here? 🌧 .
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#stylediaries #styleblogger #over30style

#throwbackthursday to last week, when...

I posted this on Stories over the weekend, but he looked so cute in it I figured it deserved a spot on the grid, too! This is Max all ready for his friend Eleah’s 1st birthday party on Saturday: despite the jetlag and his continuing obsession with doors of all kinds (He had an entire soft play at his disposal, but he mostly just wanted to open and close the gate into it...) he had an absolute ball, and spent the whole drive home shouting, “HAPPY! HAPPY!” Thanks to @thestirlingstyle for a great party 🥳 🎈 🎉 . (Oh, and that’s his hairbrush in his hand - boy likes to look his best 😉)
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I posted this on Stories...

We’re back home in not-so-sunny Scotland, but my feed is still stuck in Florida... New post is up on the blog (direct link in Stories..), talking about how we’ve been dealing with toddler jetlag, and why I always hate coming home after a trip...
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We’re back home in not-so-sunny...

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California Diary | Sequoia National Park and General Sherman