Last month, I was given the amazing opportunity to plan a one-day visit to meet my mentors Emily and Cristina. When the opportunity presented itself I was thrilled because I was hoping I’d be able to visit my internship site at least once this summer, but with the pandemic I wasn’t sure if it would be a possibility.
The weeks leading up to my visit flew by quickly and I couldn’t wait for the day to come. Luckily, I live only about four hours away from Sequoia National Park so the drive up wasn’t too long. I left home around seven in the morning and arrived a little after noon. We were lucky and didn’t catch any traffic on the way there.
I was finally able to safely meet my SEKI mentors, Emily and Cristina, in person (with masks on and from a safe distance) and not via a webcam! I was also able to meet Evelyn who works for the Hispanic Access Foundation. We began the day by having lunch around some picnic tables behind the Foothills Visitor Center. Then Emily led our group on a tour around some amazing spots nearby. We began our tour at Tunnel View, which is an iconic photo spot for tourists. We learned that it used to be an active road that vehicles could drive through, but things kept getting stuck or scraping away at the underside of the rock so it closed was off. We then went to the Potwisha Campground and walked to the Marble Falls Trailhead. We also walked over to a nearby suspension bridge that was fun to walk across. The view of the river flowing underneath us was incredible. Our final stop of the tour was Hospital Rock where we were able to see some amazing Native American rock paintings and then visited the river below.
The entire experience was so surreal, it felt like a dream. I grew up going on camping trips with my family and had been to Sequoia National Park before, but my family typically stayed in the Foothills near the river, so I had never seen it like this. The last time I visited I was in elementary school, so it had also been a very long time. This time around we drove up and saw the Sequoia trees, it was absolutely breathtaking. Seeing the trees first hand was incredible. They were so beautiful and majestic, the photographs I have seen do not do them justice or capture how gigantic they are.
Although it was only for a couple of days, I am so grateful to have been able visit SEKI and meet my mentors. This experience was extremely rewarding and beneficial because I was also able to see where my citizen science project will likely be used. I hope that one day I can safely visit again.
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP)
Location: Sequoia National Park