Sequoia, CA

"It was a long, confusing trek to the General Sherman Tree, as well as the Congress Group and the President. I wondered what made these in particular so special. They looked identical to others I’d already passed on the trail. Apparently, General Sherman is the largest tree by volume in the world, at 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter at the base."

Yosemite, CA

"Nevada Falls billowed rainbow off the rock face, the icy water letting off a fiery, colorful aura that could not be properly photographed. It burned, absolutely, with every color, shamelessly. The Liberty Cap presided over this, as well as the deep, sweeping valley below. The wildflowers and trickling cliffs shone in the waning, warm sunlight. I stood there for a long time, watching, listening, and then I descended my final mountain peak for this trip."

Lassen Volcanic, CA

"And the best part of Lassen? The butterflies. Millions, billions of them, in orange and black sheets sweeping up the mountainside, carried onward by the winds. I was so dearly lucky to have seen such a thing, so many of them teeming so quickly through the air at once that they bounced off my sunglasses a few times. It felt as if this sight was just for me, as if they were welcoming me home in this swirling, colorful parade. I couldn’t believe it."