Mountain Monday: Beneath the Shade of the Big Trees

Hiking through the sempervirens and swimming in the Stan

By Meggan Wenbourne

Could it be Abraham Lincoln? Many Sempervirens have been named throughout the park.

Could it be Abraham Lincoln? Many Sempervirens have been named throughout the park.

Sometimes all you really need is a trip to the mountains to swim in fresh water. I am biased, I much prefer fresh water to salt water. I like being able to open my eyes underwater and enjoy seeing shorelines covered in trees. There is something special about swimming up high in the mountains in the summertime and this weekend was no exception.

My partner and I found ourselves up in the mid-elevation Sierra playing in reservoirs and floating in the Stanislaus River. With ospreys circling overhead and little fish nipping at our toes, we were in complete heaven and could have stayed for a few more weeks. 😉

To me, this area has always held a special place in my heart. It is where I spent a majority of my childhood and where I escape to when the city and heat become too much. There is a lot to be said about finding a place where you are truly content and able to relax your body and mind.

The Stanislaus River was cold, like numbing your legs cold, but so refreshing. The access point of choice was through Big Trees State Park. No matter how many times I have entered this park, I am always humbled by the giants residing beyond its borders. With some of the oldest living organisms on earth just sitting silently in every direction, it was all I could do not to break my neck staring upward for over an hour and a half as we hiked through the park.

With some incredible food from a local Italian restaurant in our bellies, we made the three and a half hour journey back across the state to the coast and the cool, foggy town of Santa Cruz.

Another weekend gone, but already a day closer to the next one!

Trudging Through the Trees Tip: Pack out your trash. Even if it is not yours and you see a piece of paper, cigarette butt, or bottle laying around, do yourself some good hiking karma and take it with you. I have this theory that if all the good hiking Samaritans of the world do this, hopefully people will see their actions and start to follow their lead. We unfortunately found so much garbage down by the river this last weekend and it is heartbreaking to see so much beauty tainted by remnants of sloppy, careless people.

One visit at a time and I am sure we will make a huge positive impact on the world around us. You can do it!

One of the beautiful reservoirs nestled neatly below Bear Valley and Lake Alpine.

One of the beautiful reservoirs nestled neatly below Bear Valley and Lake Alpine.

The Stanislaus River in all its chilly glory.

The Stanislaus River in all its chilly glory.

Some more beauties.

Some more beauties.


Meg-IndiansMeggan Wenbourne is an avid outdoorswoman. She spends her time traveling to the mountains from the coastline almost every weekend to get lost in the pine trees, rocks and rivers of the Sierra Nevada range. Her favorite activities include rock climbing, SUP paddling, kayaking, mountain biking, camping and the occasional backpacking trip. When not away on an adventure, she can be found eating burritos and paddling off the coast, training at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym or nestled away in her cozy tiny house with cookies and adventure reading.

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