Day 13. 1/24/2016. Starting Odometer: 144806. Final Odometer: 144977. Mileage: 171. Total Mileage 2733.
After leaving Pinnacles, I booked it across the San Joaquin valley to Sequoia National Park, the first of the Sierra Nevada’s triple crown of National Parks. Because of the sudden deadline with the trip, I had no time to enjoy any of the parks, and set instead just a goal of seeing as many of them as quickly as I could. So after a morning enjoying Pinnacles, my next quest was to make it to Sequoia, see some sights, sleep in the campgrounds, then book it to the other parks the next day. Four National Parks in two days? Five in three days if you included Channel Islands? Six in four days if you included Joshua Tree? Seven in five if you included Death Valley? This was no longer a marathon. It was a madcap sprint!
Because it was winter, sunset struck before I entered the park. The visitor center had already closed. I found my campsite and settled in for a cold, cold night. For the first time since Great Basin National Park, snow! Finally, I had rediscovered winter!
The calming presence of the Sierra Nevada, the brisk weather, and the sound of a river babbling in the distance lent my spirit a jolt of energy, and I found it hard to sleep that night. I walked around the campground, marveling at the other campers in the park. There was some sort of German battle-cruiser-turned-RV that really got my attention. There was an Australian touring vehicle with crazy cavemen or something drawn on the sides. There was a station wagon parked at a site, the driver snuggled in a blanket in the front seat of the car. What a motley crew we were, we wintry adventurers.
All I ever wanted with this trip was to experience America’s best locations, meet people, see things I’d never seen before. I regretted the choices I made to get to where I was, and now I regretted making the choice to go home again. Would I ever be happy? Would I ever be content with the plate life served me? I listened to the river, murmuring in a language I could not decipher, and wondered what would come next.
Waiting for the fire to die, I asked baby Groot what I should do. I asked him who I was, who I should be, why I should be. The fire popped and crackled as he thought about it. Then he said simply, “I am Groot.” He was right, of course, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. Tomorrow would be Kings Canyon, and then my favorite National Park, Yosemite. I hoped that at least there, I would hear a river that could speak directly to me, and that I’d be able to listen.