We moved south to Sequoia National Park on Monday, June 19th (also Kevin’s 60th Bday today!) to check out the largest trees (by volume) on the planet. We didn’t know this before our visit but there is a large (pun intended) difference between the tallest tree and the biggest tree.
You’ve probably heard that the coastal Redwoods (more on these in a subsequent post) are the tallest trees in the world. That’s true. However, the Sequoias can be much wider and nearly as tall, giving them the distinction of largest by volume. They can live more than 3,000 years, have bark as thick as 2.5 feet and they grow only in one region in the entire world, the west flank of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and only between 5,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level. Here you will find 75 distinct sequoia groves and the largest (again, by volume) tree in the world, the General Sherman tree. It is located in the Giant Forest grove, stands 274.9 feet tall with a circumference of 102.6 feet at its base, estimated weight of 1,385 tons and an estimated age of between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. Remember this for your appearance on Jeopardy!
We started with a drive down Generals Highway, meandering through sequoia groves with multiple narrow sections where the trees appeared to be sentinels on opposite sides of the road. Their sheer size is hard to imagine but these pictures may help. Notice the pavers in one of the photos – they represent the area that the trunk of that tree would occupy as a way to share perspective.
We stopped at Moro Rock for a little exercise, climbing more than 400 steps carved into this towering granite dome that reaches an elevation of 6,725 feet that provides amazing views of the surrounding woodlands.
For a bit of culcha (culture), we visited the Giant Forest Museum to learn more about the sequoia eco-system. From there, the paved one-mile interpretive Big Trees Trail loops through another spectacular sequoia grove. We had one shot taken with the intent of demonstrating the girth of these things…enjoy.
Of course, we had to take a short hike (~ two miles) to stretch our legs out from all this driving. Guess what we saw? Look at these pics closely – thats right – two bears about 30 yards away. Siobhan figured we really didn’t have anything to worry about since we were on a popular trail with other people around. She figured there had to be other people there with less “bear-avoidance” education than us so if they decided to come after us, somebody was bound to run away so we could just stand there and watch the bears go after “the runners”! (The rangers say stay at least 100 yards away from all bears and never, ever run as it triggers them to chase you, a race you can’t win!)
Once our self-guided tour through this park drew to a close we had to decide on the lesser of two evils…sleeping on the ground in that little two-person tent or driving another 2.5 hours north back to Coarsegold and Our Way and our own bed. Easy choice!
On the way back, we paid a visit to the eyeglass store in Fresno to pick up some glasses for Siobhan. Stylin’ – check these out!
Thats all for now.