The Big Trees

Tuesday – June 23

Day 19:

A magnificent growth of giants… one naturally walked softly and awe-stricken among them.  I wandered on, meeting nobler trees where all are noble… this part of the Sequoia belt seemed to me the finest, and I then named it “the Giant Forest.” – John Muir

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Yes.  You can get carsick while driving.  We are staying in Three Rivers, CA and entered the park at the Ash Mountain Entrance.  From there it is a LONG winding, back and forth, 15-25 MPH trek up to the Giant Forest, possibly at least an hour.  I was a little uneasy by the time we got to the top.  After that drive we decided we were going to hit all we could in one day.  I didn’t want to do that again.  So off we went!

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IMG_5540 IMG_5538 IMG_5541 IMG_5521 IMG_5517 IMG_5514 IMG_5526Sequoia’s ‘Giant Forest’ makes Mariposa seem sad.  Not that Mariposa was bad.  Jennifer put it this way, “It’s like going to Knoxville and seeing a couple of tall building then going to NYC.”  Tall trees abound in Sequoia.  You drive through a family of them.  You drive around them.  They are ahead, behind, on your left, and on your right – all bearing down on you wondering why you are there.  You feel like a brontosaurus is about to peak its head around a giant one.  If feels prehistoric.  Finally, you have to just exist with them, flustered at the impossibility of taking enough pictures.  There were paths, and trails, and acres of them we never saw.  Such magnificent beasts of the forest.

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General Sherman is the largest tree in the world by volume.  The reason being is that its trunk is MASSIVE and rises majestically, never wavering of its girth, hundreds of feet up.  The funny thing is that when you are driving, one will catch your attention and you ask, ‘how is that not the biggest one?’  But the General Sherman stands proud among its army.  You truly have trouble fathoming its size while next to it.  You can’t see the top when you are next to it.  And you can’t grasp its size when you are far away from it.  Cameras struggle to fit its entire height in their frame.  I think the only way to understand their size is to either be one of them, or be God.

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You see burning going on when you are at the park.  There are crews, signs, and of course, smoke, that alert you to controlled burning.  For years, those in charge of the park had a hard time understanding what the trees needed.  Frequent fires are one of the main components to the size of sequoias.  You see fire scars all over the trees.  They have a way of healing themselves from fire.  But its in the fire that they grow strongest.  If you look closely at the rings in the picture above, you’ll see tight growth patterns, then a crack where the rings are dark… that’s a fire… then big growth rings.  They flourish after a fire.  I’m sure there’s a sermon in there somewhere.

IMG_5576 IMG_5584It’s dark in a cave.  The top picture is a cave with the lights out.  The bottom picture is with the lights on.  We decided to venture into Crystal Cave for a little adventure.  This ended up being the favorite thing of the day for the kids.  Who doesn’t love exploring the innards of a mountain?

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IMG_0792IMG_0787IMG_0786IMG_0783 2IMG_0788IMG_0793I’m still skittish of heights.  Our last venture of the day was Moro Rock.  From what I read in the guide they gave us, it was a drive up to the top of a mountain, then a quick walk up a rock to a great lookout.  Not so.  It was a drive up a mountain.  Then a harrowing climb up hundreds of stairs with nothing but railing holding you back from sheer drop off.  If I had known I probably would have chickened out.  Jennifer and I were holding the boys hands so tightly they complained we were squishing them.  I thought if felt like Angels Landing in Zion (which we will not be doing) with handrails instead of chains.  As soon as I thought that, the lady behind me exclaimed the same remark.  But the view was beautiful, and the boys were braver than their parents.  They don’t know what fear is yet.

Itinerary: The Giant Forest, General Sherman Tree, Lodgepole Visitors Center, Crystal Cave, The Giant Tree Museum, Moro Rock.

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