DAY 171 – 02/28/2013 – Sequoia National Park, CA

We are now in California, home of some of the largest trees in the world. The Giant Sequoias are right down the road from the Mojave Desert, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

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The Voyage of the Tramper has included some superlatives, for sure. And the ancient Sequoias are super big, super old organisms. They are majestic and dignified. The oldest trees are 2,700 years old (National Geographic scientists say they are even older)!

We were visiting Sequoia at the end of the winter. There was snow on the ground and a chill in the air. But the weather was sunny and clear.

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Visitors were few. Walk ½ mile into the woods on any trail and you are completely alone with the silent giants.

It was awesome to be among them. You look up and see the massive tree reaching for the clouds. Walk right up to any one of them for a closer inspection.

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Except for the tree called General Sherman. At 2.7 million pounds, it “the largest living organism on the planet by volume” according to the National Park Service.

Undisputed King of the Forest, The General has a fence around it to protect the tree from people. Some would touch and love the tree. Others may try to take a souvenir piece of bark. Heresy! A hideous act!

You can just about see me in the bottom of the photo

You can just about see me in the bottom of the photo with the General Sherman

Yet, most people would take a piece of the tree without thinking about the implications of thousand – millions – of visitors doing the same thing. The magnificent General Sherman would be no more.

There are many other Sequoias; about 8,000 specimens in the Giant Forest at Sequoia NP. Lots of them are very nearly as big, and as old, as the General Sherman. I felt honored be among living things that have been alive for almost 3,000 years!

We drove through the silent forest first, stopping now and then for a closer look.

Then, we got out of the car and hiked back into the trees, and saw them standing quietly, regally, in the snow. Each one awesome: a miracle. Looking exactly as they did when John Muir campaigned for their protection in 1875.

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A forest meadow, ringed with Giant Sequoias.

The trees themselves were their own protection. When cut down, early West Coast loggers found that they fell apart, into unusable chunks good only for scrap and pulp. Yay, Sequoias!

The Sequoia has natural protection, in it’s amazing bark, from insects. Fire doesn’t destroy Sequoias, either. Thick bark protects the inner tree and branches are high above the flames. New bark slowly grows over the burned base.

Survivor of many fires and still growing!

Survivor of many fires and still growing! David lends a bit of scale.

Some of these trees show scars from big fires that occur every hundred years or so. At 2,000 years old, that’s a lot of fires!

Here’s me, tree-hugging!

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Tree love!

What a great experience. There are no trees this big on the east coast. Everything back East was logged out at some point during the last three centuries. The trees in Maryland are beautiful but very young. Young, at least, compared to the Giant Sequoias.

– Jane

11 responses to “DAY 171 – 02/28/2013 – Sequoia National Park, CA

  1. Head here: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/gsnm/gsnm-long-meadow-grove.html if you’re still in the area! There is one felled giant that you can wander on in the middle of the loop, it’s incredible.

  2. Megan Saunders

    What great pictures! Thanks for sharing. It looks beautiful there. The trees are amazingly huge. I loved seeing you standing next to them for perspective on how big they are.

  3. livingstonfamilyadventures

    Oh!!!! How awesome. I saw those when I was a teenager and I can’t wait to take my boys!!! How beautiful!!!

  4. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of how beautiful California is! It can be easy to forget as I travel my daily maze of freeways… Sequoia National Forest has got to be one of my favorite places in the whole world. There is magic in those trees!

  5. I never tire of seeing pictures of these wonders. One day, perhaps I will be there to give them a hug, too!

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