September 3, 2022 Comments Off on Heatmageddon
It got so hot yesterday that almost everyone died. The news talkers advised everyone that to avoid death they should stay inside and not move except to obtain the alcohols. In no event should anyone go outside because it was fatally hot.
Nevertheless a few foolish folks took to the open, air-conditioned road and braved the heat in their air-conditioned cages despite being warned of death and much worse. Unfortunately, as I rode up into Sequoia National Park, there were dead bodies everywhere.
The temperatures had soared to thousands of degrees, melting cars and occupants. It was ghastly.
No one died or was hurt. They all survived somehow inside their air-conditioned, fully alcoholized cages. Most were smiling as they passed, and a few waved.
I, however, wasn’t smiling. The heat was endurable but the climb, not so much. It took me eight hours, with stops, to go thirty miles. If I had had any character to build, yesterday would have been a construction project of Grand Coulee Dam proportions.
Along the way I had a snack while dangling my feet in the Kaweah River, ate a soggy burrito lunch beneath a giant sequoia, saw the General Sherman, and ran myself into the ground. But I have to say that despite the brutality of the day, the feeling of rounding a bend after much struggle and seeing a stand of giant sequoias was as close to religion as I’ll ever get.
Of the hundreds of thousands of people who drive into the park, none has the experience of doing it on a bike. For them, the trees pop up in front of the windshield like icons in a video game, and since there’s nowhere to stop, in a few moments they’re gone because despite the signage that this is a “Giant Forest,” it is nothing but a mere grove of sequoias, a pitiful assemblage of massive toothpicks where once countless tens of thousands used to stand.
Regardless, when you enter the grove after several hours of terrible labor, it comes as a stunning shock to see these trees, tall as the sky, old as history, impervious yet fragile, holding sway over every person who dares stare at them for more than a moment. And it seems that few visitors stare at all, foot mashed on the accelerator, hurrying to the next waypoint be it a campground, gift shop, or restaurant, too caught up in the limited time they have to gaze in awe, in fear, in respect, in obedience, to these colossi that germinated thousands of years ago from a seed so small it can scarcely be seen with the naked eye.
For my part, was humbled into a sweaty, exhausted speck, and I slept in a picnic area that had been burned over last year, tent spread on a soft bed of ashes, next to a huge granite boulder, beneath towering firs and pine. I slept well.