I’ve often heard about the sequoias of California (also known as the redwoods). Stories of trees so large that tunnels were made through them large enough for cars to fit. An occasional picture added to the stories showing these magnificent trees and their grand scale. When first starting to plan for a trip to Yosemite National Park I didn’t realize that there were a smattering of these redwoods in the park. Most of these are in Mariposa Grove. Knowing that Sequoia National Park is close by my expectations were that in order to see the redwoods you would have to go here.
Entering from the south into Yosemite late in the day on Father’s Day, Mariposa Grove was the closest sight to this entrance so it was decided to explore this area with the daylight we had left. Entering the parking area the sequoias are immediately visible and very impressive. I don’t know if a photo can capture the grandeur of these trees with much accuracy which is why seeing these for yourself is the only way to experience these massive redwoods. Looking around the parking lot quickly invites you to take a short hike to see more of these trees with the gem being the California Tunnel Tree less than a mile away.
After only a few minutes on the trail you come across one of the sequoias that has fallen and gives you an idea of just how large the base of the trees can be. Another observation at this point was how wide this dirt trail was and the amount of dust that had settled on nearby plants indicating just how many people have been using the trail in recent days. Continuing on this trail, another fallen sequoia laying across the trail adds the your education by explaining how many rings a trees has indicating it’s age. Also, this tree has been cut allowing passage between portions of the trunk.
This brought about the question of how do they cut through these trees? The trunk is 10 –12 feet in diameter. I have never seen a saw that was this large. I can only imagine that a trunk has to be cut with several passes of a larger chainsaw as I do with a tree that may only be 18 – 20 inches in diameter. It was at this point we learned many of the larger redwoods were 1,800 – 2,000 years old. Imagine, a tree that has lived this long and all of the different conditions it has survived to get to this point. Fires, ice and snow, rocks shifting (earthquakes), heat, cold. These trees could tell us more about climate change if they could speak.
Moving further up the trail there were more giant sequoias to capture your attention and just about the time you start asking “where is the tunnel tree? We’ve been on this trail for awhile now.” it appears through the forest. Now in sight the pace hurries a little to see this tree close up as you forget that you’re even walking out of amazement at seeing a tree so large a tunnel could be created out of it and it still lives. Getting closer to this tree of course you have to have your picture taken standing inside a living tree but in order to believe it is actually real you almost have to touch the tree. The bark is very spongy almost begging to be touched over and over again. You can see were the tree is trying to heal the enormous wound by all the bark that has started to grow on the inside of the tunnel in an attempt to cover exposed wood.
Satisfied that the hike was worth every step to see such magnificent trees it was time to return to the vehicles as dictated by the waning daylight. A hike at this time of day can be more peaceful as many of the other explorers had already returned to their vehicles and left for the day leaving the quietness of the forest for those still meandering the trails. It is this peacefulness that I desire allowing the natural surrounding to be seen and heard as you return to where you began. We returned to the vehicles as the sun was setting allowing us to find a spot on the road to stop and witness the last rays of the day. A day filled with memories as we began this Father’s Day in the hustle of Los Angeles eating a great breakfast and ended the day in the peace and quiet of Yosemite as the forest transitioned into night.