Words and Photos by Lee Scott
Earlier this school year my friends and I had an open weekend and decided to go check out Sequoia National Park. A few of our friends had left the day before and would meet us at the campground when we got there. This trip happened to fall on a chilly November weekend, and the elevation in Sequoia National Park did not help with the temperature. As we were climbing up to Lodgepole Campground, where we were staying, my friend and I would intermittently roll down the windows to feel the temperature change. As we were getting to our campground the temperature started reaching close to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This led to us immediately putting on our extra layers upon arrival and wrapping ourselves in blankets as we walk to the campsite.
Once we reached our campsite in Lodgepole Campground we set up our tents and hammocks and then quickly ran over sit by the warm fire. The rest of the consisted of us sharing stories, scary and not scary, and trying to keep ourselves warm by cuddling and having adult beverages. Eventually, it was time to head to bed as we were going to wake up and go to Moro Rock to watch the sunrise. Before bed, I put on a few more layers before crawling into my sleeping bag. My night of sleep began pretty smoothly, I was warm and cozy inside my sleeping bag and quickly fell asleep. A few hours later I woke up from whatever dream I was having to the aching freezing pain that was my feet. I guess the layers of socks and extra blankets inside my sleeping bag were not enough to keep them warm, perhaps a Bivy would have been more helpful. I continued to lay there and fall in and out of sleep the rest of the night trying to keep my feet warm because it was too dang cold outside to do anything else.
After what seemed like months the morning finally came and it was time for us to head to Moro Rock. We hiked up to the top of Moro Rock and watched the sunrise for a while, a particularly beautiful sunrise I might add. The rest of the day was spent checking out the General Sherman Tree and hiking the Tokopah Falls trail in the afternoon. Hiking the Tokopah Falls trail was another exciting and frigid adventure in itself.
We began hiking the trail early afternoon and it had grown to such warm temperatures that I decided to walk around in my shorts and tights only. We continued hiking on the trail for awhile until we came to a small pool of water that also had some water cascades as well. We stayed here for a while to chill and look at stuff before continuing on. While perusing around I noticed a water droplet frozen onto a stick in the water. I thought this would be a cool photo and decided to get closer with my camera to take a picture. As I inched forward I was not aware of where my feet were going and ended up stepping on some ice. This ice was very slippery and caused me to start helplessly sliding down into the freezing water. All I could do was yell and hold my camera high enough for it to not get wet, and all friends could do was laugh. After getting out of the water I was soaking wet everywhere below the waist, but this did not stop me from getting that picture. I was able to get to a better spot and take that picture without falling into the water again.
The rest of the hike I was a bit cold but tried to stay in the sun as much as possible so I could stay warm. Finally, when we got back to our campsite I changed out of my cold wet clothes and into my warmer pants and other socks. Luckily for camping that night we decided to camp at a lower elevation that was much warmer. I guess the moral of the story here is to always have extra clothes, you never know when swimming in a freezing river will be a part of the plan.
To see more adventures near Sequoia National Park, check out Bivy.