Spring in The Sierra

At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


In May, snow should be melting, not falling, in California’s Sierra Nevada, the Range of Light.

That is, unless your weather karma has gone with the wind.

Then winter comes roaring back, and the giant green needled and red barked trees in Sequoia National Park turn a bright Christmas white.

Daytime temperatures hover just above freezing. Slushy paved pathways become like ice-covered rivers in the darkness of the starless, moonless nights.

The sun makes a cameo appearance in mid-morning, then is wrapped in a damp blanket of flat, gray clouds until, unnoticed, it slips below the Western horizon.

Visitors from afar, unfamiliar with Mother Nature’s fickle meteorological mood swings in these mountains, flee down slope, into the foothills, across California’s Great Central Valley, and onward to where the state meets the Pacific Ocean, hoping to find warmth and abundant sunshine.

A marmot, sensing no human predators to fear during mid-spring snow showers, ventures out of its burrow, and like a Hollywood movie star, poses contentedly for its Cecil B. DeMille “close up.”

Park trails covered in snow dampen the sound of footsteps of those who dressed to play for the day in an unexpected winter wonderland.

Out of sight, but within earshot, a Pileated Woodpecker raps its large beak against a snag, making a sound like a jackhammer pummeling concrete to bits.

A day passes, the snow hangs heavily on tree and bush.

Then suddenly, as if on cue, the skies clear, the temperature soars to 45 degrees, and in a wild, dripping frenzy, now liquid snow pours off trees, while still frozen white clumps of it remain on the ground where shade delays their final exit from the earth’s stage this year.

Spring arrives!

Flowers bloom!

Waterfalls and rivers rush onward to the sea!

All is well in the mountains that separate California from its neighboring State of Sin to the east.

In May, snow should be melting, not falling, in California’s Sierra Nevada, the Range of Light.

That is, unless your weather karma has gone with the wind.

(This story served as the script for the following video, A Range of Light Spring, which aired on MarinTV in June of 2014.)

https://vimeo.com/99555120

© 2014 Dick Jordan/Tales Told From The Road (www.talestoldfromtheroad.com). All Rights Reserved.

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