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Postcards from Yosemite and Beyond: Snow covers the Sierra

After nearly two years of focusing on COVID-19 and working for the Los Angeles Times at 13 different hospitals, it was finally time to get outside, away from crowds, and take a break from the pandemic.

First stop: the snowy General Grant Tree – sometimes called the nation’s Christmas tree – in Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

I have tried to get to General Sherman and other sequoias affected by the KNP complex fire, but the road between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park remains closed due to inclement weather.

Sunbeams shine through a grove of majestic redwoods on snow-covered ground.

A snow covered Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The trunk of a massive sequoia dwarfs the surrounding trees as it rises from snow-covered ground.

The General Grant tree in Kings Canyon National Park is the second largest tree in the world by trunk volume.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Bright green moss is contrasted by ice on a sequoia.

Bright green moss is contrasted by ice on a sequoia.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

General Grant did not disappoint. The tree is about 268 feet tall and the girth of the trunk is 107 feet, second only to General Sherman.

The crowd was minimal and the trail slow due to the ice, allowing me to focus on both the detail of the icicles dripping from the moss and the giant sequoia in the snow.

Yosemite took my breath away. My first visit. Ancient huge granite boulders. Snowy Meadows. Ice crushing the pine needles. The sound of the waterfalls breaks the still air. I am already planning my second visit.

Ice crystals on glass

Ice crystals form on car window early Tuesday morning in Yosemite National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Two small icicles dangle from a moss-covered rock.

Two small icicles dangle from a moss-covered rock in Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

And finally, a quick stop to photograph trees affected by the Caldor Fire near Martin Meadows, about 35 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The Caldor Fire burned 221,835 acres in the fall of 2021. Recent storms have dropped several feet of snow, and more are on the way.

My mind feels rejuvenated after not focusing on COVID-19 for a few days.

During the winter solstice I took the long drive home through fog on icy roads. It gave me time to reflect on the impermanence of life, the inevitability of death, and the continuum of hope during my short trip out of town.

General Grant is about 3,000 years old. El Capitan in Yosemite Valley formed about 200 million years ago. And one day children will play again in the fire-scarred woods. We will overcome the pandemic in time. And I felt at peace after spending time in nature.

“Any walk with nature gives you far more than you seek.” —John Muir

The tightly packed trunks of small, fire-blackened trees rise from the snow-covered ground.

Trees burned by the Caldor fire stand near Martin Meadows on California Highway 88 between the resort towns of Silver Lake and Kirkwood Mountain.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A small grove of bare deciduous trees is framed by taller conifers and a snow-capped granite slope.

A small grove of bare deciduous trees is framed by taller conifers and a snow-capped granite slope.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A bare, brown granite formation contrasts with more distant snow-capped mountains.

El Capitan and Half Dome as seen from Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A waterfall tumbles down a granite outcrop marked by patches of snow and ice.

Upper Yosemite Fall plunges between snow and ice in Yosemite Valley.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Delicate ice crystals cling to the needles of a tree.

Ice crystals cover trees between winter storms in Yosemite National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A man and two children walk along a snowy path lined with evergreen trees.

Martin Tschopp, left, walks with his children Kai, 12, center, and Maia, 10, in Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Two boys, one seated and the other on his stomach, are sledding on packed snow.

Cesar Torres, 8, of Madera, front, and Adrian Jovani Castillo, 11, have a blast sled ride near an old burn area not far from the Yosemite National Park entrance.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A large granite outcrop rises behind sparse conifers that line a creek with snow-capped banks.

El Capitan rises above Yosemite Valley.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Snow clings to the sheer granite cliff faces of El Capitan.

Snow clings to the sheer granite cliff faces of El Capitan.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Clumps of snow cover the stumps of blackened trees.

Lumps of snow cover the blackened tree stumps in Yosemite Valley.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Bare tree trunks glow in the fading light.

As the sun sets, the light momentarily shifts to trees with old burn marks near a Yosemite National Park entrance gate.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Light emanates from a small building with many windows and a steeple flanked by evergreens under a night sky.

Light shines from Yosemite Chapel in Yosemite National Park at night.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-12-23/photos-winter-snowfall-blankets-yosemite-valley Postcards from Yosemite and Beyond: Snow covers the Sierra

Russell Falcon

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