sequoia national park candle 8oz amber jar lit nature bg

It was the second day of our Sequoia National Park backpacking trip that we decided to take the 4.1-mile hike along the Topakah Falls trail. When most people think of Sequoia National Park, they imagine a land of giant trees reaching up to kiss the sky. Although I was among the presence of a giant cathedral of trees on the first day I arrived, I knew there was so much more to this place and I was determined to see some of the park’s high country.

We decided to choose a quieter part of Sequoia for a hike that morning and I made my way to the trailhead for a somewhat leisurely day hike. I slept in so I wasn’t going to be able to spend all day on the trail and needed a somewhat short trek. Tokopah Falls seemed a reasonable distance to hike for an up-close view of a ~1200ft waterfall. The trail started just north of Lodgepole Campground, a pretty short distance from where we had set up camp the day before.

As we began the hike, we walked along the beautiful Marble Fork river that hugged the trail. It was a clear day with a bright blue sky that made the huge boulders and crystal-clear water light up in front of us. It continued like this for what seemed like an hour, but I make it a point to let go of the concept of time while on a day hike – there’s nowhere to be but here in the woods.

We were led through a wooded area of tall pines. Although these weren’t the world famous giant Sequoias, it didn’t matter, they provided the loveliest shade and smelled like heaven. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

The scent of Amberwood moss and sage filled my nose and my heart as I breathed deeply and took a moment to appreciate that place, and how lucky I was to be there.

When you’re in a place as grand as this, it’s easy to focus only on the big majestic scenes. I wanted to make sure I didn’t overlook the small ones. I took a moment to look around and notice the pinky toe-sized purple wildflowers that stood out brightly against the earthy browns and boulder grays. I put my nose to their tiny faces and breathed in their scent of rose jasmine and citrus.

we kept hiking along the mostly-flat trail that offered ever-changing views. I crossed a small stream that led me to some huge rock formations. As I made my way around them I was suddenly in the view of the Watchtower — an amazing granite peak shooting straight up into the sky. This view, I daresay, rivals any I’ve experience in Yosemite. Amazing. We then made our way to a clearing where I caught my first glance of Tokopah Falls. It was only a sliver of a waterfall from that moment, but as I continued down the trail it grew bigger and bigger in size.

I reached the end of the trail early that afternoon and sat down for lunch and to appreciate the falls. It crashed down along the bluffs, over a thousand feet above me. I saw little rainbows of light dancing on the mist that was spraying on my skin. There’s nothing like sitting belong a waterfall like that, roaring and gushing with the snowmelt of the spring. I spent all afternoon taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. It was very refreshing.

When the sun started to dip, we started back towards the trailhead. I spotted a few adventurous marmots as I followed the trail around the sparkling granite boulders. I’m always amazed at how cute they are. Just as I approached the end of my hike I decided to dip my worn feet into the rushing Marble Fork river. The cold water was rejuvenating and I was ready to head back to my campsite and start dinner, build a campfire, and relax. When I burn my Sequoia candle now, it takes me right back to that moment with my feet in the water and my head tilted back gazing at the sky. What a true treat.

J. Schuler

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