I woke up to cloudy skies in Glendale, but it wasn't long after driving the PCH, that the road rose above the clouds, fog, and smog of the LA basin. I was a little worried how my body would handle the elevation gain, since it's been a long time since I've hiked above 6,000 feet. Fortunately, I didn't even notice. The incline of the trail was gradual enough not to punish my lungs. The sky was an unbelievable blue. It felt real good to be breathing such fresh air as well. Visibility was outstanding. What I failed to take into account, however, was the intensity of the sun. The temperature was absolutely perfect but my face and arms were fried by the sun's beams. It was a good lesson to learn before hitting the Sierra's next month. A hat and suntan lotion are going to be essential.
What was also invigorating was the health and vitality of the pine trees. Unfortunately in the Pisgah National Forest in N.C., the mighty hemlock is under attack by a fungus that is destroying the trees. It was sad to see every hemlock covered with a white fungus and the needles falling off while living in N.C. Here's a little more info about it.
It was also exciting to discover a small grove of Sequoia trees nearby. They were younger, my guess a 100 years old or so, but I did not expect to see any in the area. I'm still not completely positive they were in fact Sequoias, but their bark and shape led to me to believe they were. Hopefully I can verify that with someone soon.