21 September 2010

California Day 4: TREES!

The General Grant Tree stands behind me in that photo above. It's hard to capture the grand scale of a tree like a Sequoia and certainly standing near one doesn't do justice to its height and weight but trust me, these are trees that you must see in your lifetime. They are large, gorgeous wild things and they are older than you can imagine, General Grant is close to 2,000 years old.

I loved the fire damage and how each tree is tattooed with some mark of history. At the Grant Gove you can't walk up to the trees as they are protected by a fence. Nevertheless, you can go down a number of trails if you are inclined to put your arm around a large living organism. In case you're keeping score the General Grant Tree is the second largest tree in the world.

I stood inside the trunks of dead Sequoias and hugged the bark of the living. I can't even tell you how happy I was to see my first ever Sequoias. I love trees and last summer I was able to see my first Redwoods. This summer I conquered the similiar species that calls the higher elevations of California home. The Sequoia forests are definitely different from Coastal Redwoods. I like the Redwoods better somehow...maybe it's the damp, cool, humid forest. But don't get me wrong, the Sequoias did not disappoint. I found them completely fascinationg.

An old house still stands in the Grant Grove, all that is left of a time long ago. It's hard to imagine lumbermen and families living in these forests. And then later troops that were first stationed to protect the newly acquired national forest land. I loved walking around the trees and reading their names and thinking how people a hundred years ago must have lived around such beauty.

Sequoias are so large that's it's a feat to be able to get a whole tree, trunk to crown, into the picture. I had to find trees farther away and near cleared out parking lot areas to fully get a profile.

Below is a tree that housed horses like a stable and before that was shelter. Even in death, the tree has continued to live in people's lives. Now visitors to the Grant Grove can walk through the heart of the tree that connects two paths.

After wandering around the Grant Grove we headed down an offshooting nature trail. The trail started at the far end of the parking lot and afforded us great views of the Sequoia grove.

We didn't follow the blazes for long before we found a nice mix of birds. Chickadees and Wilson's Warblers delighted us before we decided to head back and think about dinner plans.

We took the path back to our campsite. Along the way we found another new mammal for the list, a Lodgepole Chipmunk. I love chipmunks and I feel like I can watch them for hours. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Southeast where such little rodents do not dwell.

Geraldine and I took frequent stops. We soaked in the big trees and enjoyed the smell of the forest. I found a perfect fire poking stick and we had a lovely stroll back to our home for the night.

When we returned a deer was occupying our campsite. By the time I got my camera out I only managed to catch the tail before it slipped behind the bushes.

Beautiful evening sunrays sprinkled across the campground. We came ill prepared and forgot to bring dinner so we headed to the grocery store at the visitor's center and rustled up some food.

We feasted on Soysage and Mac&Cheese. To top it all off we had a Half Dome "Half-Weizen," which is a half German style Hefeweizen and half California Pale Ale combination made by Sequoia Brewing Company. It was a lovely dinner and it was made only better by our lovely campfire.

Tomorrow we will venture to the Sequoias National Park and see the largest tree on earth!

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