Story and Photos by JJ Fry
ur location in the Central Valley gives access to some of the nation’s most beautiful landscapes. From mountain peaks to far-reaching oceans, these destinations are accessible to us in a matter of hours. Initially for this article, I wanted to stay a little closer to home and highlight Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks right in our backyard. However, with fires breaking out across the parks, I instead offer this piece as a tribute to the beauty being threatened by these wildfires, to the efforts of wildfire fighters, and to National Park personnel risking their lives to save each landmark.
Not to be confused with Morro Rock off California’s Central Coast, Moro Rock is a location that calls me back time after time. I’ve visited this location in every season, even in winter when the road out to the rock is closed and you have to hike 2 miles in the snow. On a clear day, you can easily spot this behemoth all the way from Lake Kaweah, and I love pointing it out to my friends and family, telling them, “I’ve stood on top of that rock!” Sadly, the effects of the KNP Complex fire will be seen from Moro Rock for years to come.
Grizzly Falls and Roaring River Falls
These two waterfalls are roughly 20 minutes away from each other, and they’re both spectacular in their own way. Grizzly Falls is a tall cascading waterfall that crashes down into a rocky riverbed. Roaring River Falls is accurately named because it certainly roars! Both are close to the road, with little hiking necessary, and worthy of adding to your travel list once the park reopens.
Big Meadows is one of those off-the-beaten-path locations.
With several hiking trails and campsites, it’s a must-see for the nature-enthused. It’s hard to believe that at the time of writing this, the KNP Complex fire is less than 7 miles away from this spot.
These trees are like skyscrapers, and it’s hard to imagine how long it took for them to grow to these heights. Firefighters used fire-retardant materials to wrap some of the iconic giants, such as the General Sherman and the Four Guardsmen, in order to protect them from the KNP Complex fire. I can’t think of Sequoia-Kings National Parks without thinking of these landmarks, and I’m beyond thankful for the work that our first responders are doing to save these pieces of history.
My parents have been taking me here since I was old enough to walk, so Hume Lake Christian Camps has a special place in my heart. Hume has cabins that you can rent, lodges you can reserve, a community of private cabins, summer camp for kids, a high-rope course through the giant sequoias and tons of other activities. Hume Lake was nearly destroyed in 2015 by the Rough Fire, the second largest wildfire in modern Sierra Nevada history. I’m saddened to see Hume experiencing this kind of devastation again only six years later.
Reborn from the fires
Giant sequoias need regular low intensity fires to release seeds from their cones. These fires burn off debris, such as pine needles, exposing the soil and creating a layer of ash that returns nutrients to the soil. This creates the perfect environment for new trees to grow.
Mature giant sequoias can thrive in frequent fires with their bark, which can grow up to 2-feet thick, insulating them from damage. These fires are what shaped the giant sequoia ecosystem. When people started colonizing these areas in the 1600-1900s, the frequency of fires sharply declined. By the early 1900s, it became a national policy to extinguish all fires as quickly as possible.
Firefighters and National Park personnel are fighting to protect these trees from the raging fires that do permanent damage. Ongoing conservation efforts are aided by creating smaller controlled burns, which are key in promoting the growth of new sequoias and preventing catastrophic fires from happening in the future.
For more information about the giant sequoias and how they’re affected by the fires, visit the link below.
Ways to Donate
Times like these are perfect opportunities for our community to unite and join forces to support those impacted. Click the link below to see how you can contribute to our local heroes and those feeling the affects of these wildfires.
Photos from Sequoia-Kings National Parks Facebook