Coming from the Midwest, Los Angeles and California in general never cease to surprise me, but what really gets me is the number of beautiful places you can go on any given day. The ability to go on a hike in the morning and then the beach for sunset is something that I will never get used to. In one of the last weeks of this summer, I got a call from my friend on a Thursday night. He told me he was leaving tomorrow at 4 to go to Sequoia National Park. I was worried about missing work, but the opportunity to go to Sequoia out of nowhere seemed too good to pass up. Less than 24 hours after learning this trip was happening I was in the car and going up the I-5. The drive took less than 5 hours and suddenly we were surrounded by giant trees that took full minutes to walk all the way around. Since none of us had a tent we ended up just sleeping on the ground with our sleeping bags courtesy of California weather.
The next morning, we could actually see what we were driving through and realized how vaguely terrifying the switchback roads we had been on were. After doing some short little trips to see a lookout point and General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume, we found the trailhead we had planned. After going up about 1000 feet and 8 miles, we reached the top of the hike which was a lake on top of the mountain fed by a snowmelt. After wearing ourselves out on the hike, swimming in a cold lake was incredibly refreshing.
Once we’d dried out on the rocks (and met some recent USC grads. Trojan Family!), we started our trip back down the mountain. Minus a brief encounter with a bear, everything went great with us driving from the trailhead straight back to Los Angeles. Within in 48 hours, I had learned that I was going, walked 20ish miles, and checked another national park off my list. My roommates hadn’t even noticed that I had left with them just thinking I had been working in my room.
The opportunities to go places so easily with friends is so incredible out here. In Kansas City, there’s an 8 hour drive minimum to find anything close to interesting. Taking advantage of Los Angeles is something I intend to think about a lot more for my senior year.