WILDERNESS CHALLENGE: If you've been pondering membership with the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, thanks in large part to the amount of time you spend up among the big trees, this could possibly be the best moment ever to take the leap. The organization has just released its Summer Member Challenge 2016 list, a roster that covers a bevy of check-'em-off activities to engage in over the months ahead. Some involve social media -- "Share your favorite trail memory with us on Facebook" is number 19 -- while others are of a more personal, commune-with-nature nature. "Walk to Sunset Rock and watch a sunset" is a much-loved park must-do, while "(t)ake a photo with the General Sherman tree" is something just about every visitor does (whether they get alllll of the enormous specimen in the frame is another matter). Various landmarks, hikes, and programs are included on the roster, which encompasses 30 suggestions in all.
BUT HERE'S SOMETHING TO CONSIDER, if there's just no way, time- or life- or interest-wise, you can get to all 30 by Sept. 1, 2016, which is the deadline to submit your completed challenges: You don't need to do them all. There are prizes for topping out at twenty, or even ten, so you could absolutely cover that many over a long weekend (or a blissful week among the giants, if you're so lucky). There is one grand prize to claim, but ponder this: Haven't you already won if you've spent a summery afternoon at Zumwalt Meadow or Little Baldy or along Congress Trail? The answer is "heck yeah," for even one or two checked-off activities mean that you've spent some quality time in one of California's most superb stretches of tree-packed splendor. To join the conservancy, give those sequoias all the love they deserve, and jump into the 2016 challenge, turn your binocs in this direction.