Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bunch of Tree Huggers Spot a Bear

(Don't forget to check out the videos at the end of this post - they're of Joel and Jules "skiing" as they put it.)

Today we headed to the Merced Grove of sequoias. Merced Grove is the smallest grove in the park (20 trees) and therefore, the least visited. People don't tend to want to see the "smallest" things - they flock to the biggest. Except for the Pavliskas. We took the trail less traveled, and it made all the difference : )
What a treat! We saw 3 couples coming off the trail as we were heading up. Then we had the trail (and the trees) all to ourselves until we met some folks on our way out. This is not common for a Yosemite trail. We hiked 1.5 miles down, descending approximately 600 feet which was easy walking. The trail we followed was part of an old stage coach road which took tourists from San Fransisco to the Merced Grove.

The kids were thrilled as a good part of it was covered in snow. With the exception of Joel who saw tons of snow in Montana and Canada - this was the most snow the kids had ever seen. It was not cold and we were comfortable in our light jackets.

We spotted a bear nestled in a tree - see photo. His name is Little Green Bear and Jules has had him for 8 years. If it weren't for Little Green Bear we wouldn't ever know what Jules is thinking. Jules kept telling us that Little Green Bear thought this was the most beautiful hike he had ever been on (and LGB has been on quite a few). The smells of the pines, the sounds of the birds and bubbling creek we followed, and the sights of the tall trees covered by a fluorescent green lichen/moss (?) were a cacophony of treats for our senses.

When we arrived at the first giant sequoia we were stunned. Jasper screamed, "Oh my God!" which I think was a reaction to our oohs and aahs...... We immediately gave the giant a group hug : ). We continued on the trail, visiting most of the trees. Ellie found a cozy home in one and pointed out that she could live in it just like the boy in "My Side of the Mountain".

We continued on past the maintained trail and followed the old stagecoach road out into the unknown. We climbed over/under fallen trees, through gigantic pot holes left by uprooted trunks, and across packed snow drifts. Several times, Little Green Bear expressed concern and suggested we head back, but Jeff ignored him as he wanted to see how far we could get. Eventually, the creek crossed our path and we stopped for a snack of crackers, fruit bars, and Jasper's favorite, beef turkey (beef jerky).
Heading back up was not nearly as much fun as heading down had been. Everyone started up and I stayed back, walking slowly with Camille. Camille never stopped talking the entire time. Well, she did stop talking when she started singing. She stopped often to ask questions and look at things. This was not good for me. Just when I would get my heart rate up and set a manageable pace, she would force me to stop. Just as my pulse would slow she would start back up again. And we went on this way for quite some time : ). Eventually, the little trooper began whining that she was tired. The fact that she could talk to whine, and occasionally skip, sing, or yell, let me know that she was not nearly as tired as I was. I was really sucking air at that altitude and couldn't have complained had I wanted to.

When we came back to the giant trees, Camille and I sat at the base of one. There was a perfect little bench on its roots and we sat ourselves down. We were still. I asked Camille to try and be as quiet as a tree and she did. The silence was beautiful. I contemplated how long that tree had been standing there. What would that be like, to stand in one place for so long? Are we like butterflies, who live but for a day? I pictured the tree in snow, in storms, in fires, with children long dead playing at its roots....hundreds of years of naked brown children whose fathers hunted in the forest for deer to bring home to the village, pioneer children, children hopping off of the stage coach - and now my child, sitting quietly on a little seat of roots. Who else had sat here? What had they thought?
An elderly couple came out of nowhere and startled us out of our meditation. "You look mighty small sitting there," he said. "I feel mighty small," I answered. Then we headed back up the 1.5 mile trail - so glad we had bothered to come to this "small" grove of trees, visited by the relatively few. We walked over a mile to see 20 trees. It would have been worth it just to see the one who let us sit timeless in her roots.
Today I took lots of pictures. Yesterday I also took quite a few. But yesterday I also had a moment where not taking a picture was very rewarding. I was sitting (alone) on a pebble beach beside a slow spot in the river. Off in the distance, on the other side of the river, was a gigantic waterfall. Jeff walked up and asked me if I wanted the camera. I told him no. Suddenly, the last thing I wanted was a camera. I wanted nothing between me and the beauty. I wanted to look through the lenses of my own eyes, not a camera. I had no desire to take the scene home with me, or to preserve it in any way. I wanted to look at it for that moment, and then leave it there where it belonged. So I did experience a little "now" yesterday, and had forgotten to mention it.
With our added excursion at the end of our trail, we hiked about 5 miles today - so hopefully the little ones are worn out. They are certainly acting like it.
Well, Jeff has dinner ready and I need to remove myself and the computer from the tiny table.
Check back tomorrow - it will be our last day in Yosemite!
Sardine Mama

ps. Mark and Rita - Jeff found a Trader Joe's in Stockdon and so we are loaded up. I told you he would find one. :)


  1. Hi guys,
    We miss you and want you back! Tell Jasper he can have as much whip cream for dinner as he wants! We have more of those strawberries too! What did you think of Trader Joe's in Stockton?
    Sequoia trees are old souls and have always made me feel humble. We vacationed in Sequoia Nat. Park every year when I was a kid. Pretty amazing place! Jack misses Ellie...

  2. Hey Pavliskas! Sounds like ya'll are having a lot of fun! Wish we had trees like that here. I've been wanting to try living in a tree like that ever since reading "My Side of the Mountain"! lol. Now the big news.... number eight is here! No doubt you'll hear more when you get back, but yes, Mom had the baby early this morning. It's a boy! Still nameless, with dark hair (somewhat unusual for a K. baby). Thought I'd let you guys know...
    Keep having a blast in CA! See you when you get back!

  3. Hey Katie!
    Wow, congrats on your new baby bro! Now you have 7 subjects to rule over. :) Let me know when you guys have a name for him. I would email you all of this, but I don't have my address book with me here.
    I miss all of you guys soooo much. And I have a whole other week to go before I'm home. I have truly dropped off the face of the planet, I swear. Today we're driving to somewhere called Bakersfield...? Fun fun.

    Anywho, it was good hearing from you. See you soon!