By Jacqueline Winberg
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks give me the most magnificent and overwhelming feeling of gratitude. From the cascading waterfalls, deep valleys, and mountain tops, to the grazing deer, mischievous Blue Jays, and chipmunks begging for food. From the deep hues of green and blue in the mountains and trees to the lavender flower petals and pink sunsets. The largest trees in the entire world reside here: Sequoias. They reach heights of 250 feet and their trunk base can be 30 - 40 feet in diameter. These National Parks are close to my heart, always.
On a recent trip there I was reflecting on Coastal Angels and our last visit to the beach, our bonfire. At night, one can barely make out the stars. To note, it's not just in Huntington Beach, but in Anaheim Hills, Fullerton, Los Angeles, and San Diego. In fact, it seems that when night falls you can't make out the stars anywhere in southern California.
I bet you could count all the stars you see.
Personally, I cannot see the stars here like I can in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Can you imagine growing up and not seeing as many stars as you can see there? I did. I never imagined that there were more stars visible to the eye. Looking up as a kid, I would hear about how many stars there were, look at pictures taken by NASA and professional photographers. Where would they go to get these pictures? I wondered. Imagine, thousands of years ago, people could see vastly more stars than we can today. The night sky inspired wisdom and intelligence! It attributed to the awareness of seasons and explorers used them to navigate the globe.
Today, you're very lucky if you can take a trip to Sequoia and Kings National Parks, thus avoiding artificial light pollution and truly see the night sky. I hope everyone gets the chance to see the night sky in all its glory, unfortunately you can't here in Orange County. They are hidden by a blanket of smog and light pollution. It's the same story throughout Southern California, and the city lights and smog are even starting to drown out the night sky in the mountains. Sequoia National Park is one of the few places left that you can go and experience no light pollution. In the future, I hope that we can have more respect for nature, reduce carbon emissions, and be mindful about artificial lights. It is us who are locking the sky away from future generations to star gaze and live full human lives.
We have to act now, to get the night sky back. Carpool, ride your bike, use public transportation, and walk more often. The little things you do today, can inspire those around you. Make a big deal out of it! If social media is good for one thing, it's letting people into your life. Let them know you care about the planet and you are doing what you can, given your circumstances, to preserve the night sky.
Take a trip up to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and star gaze the whole night. Know that places like these are threatened by smog and artificial light pollution and it is up to us to create awareness and push back against it.
Check out more pictures from my trip below!