The Towering Sequoias
Guest post from Marybeth Haydon
I’M IN A DIFFERENT SORT OF FOREST THIS OUTING. The towering, aptly named Giant Sequoia’s are a jaw-dropping experience to stand beneath. Exceedingly lush greenery, ferns, flowers and low-lying brush all dazzle the eye with such a nutrient-rich intensity, thriving in rich beauty beneath the trees. The large trees with thick, impressive branches often inhibit rainwater, greedily absorbing the moisture before it reaches the plant life beneath them. But the cool, moisture-rich fog that lingers beneath the trees keeps the forest floor inhabitants hydrated, allowing the plants to look longingly up at the giant redwoods. It seems almost as a love-story, the duo-shared nutrients feeding the other, depending upon one another in an almost intimate manner.
Even the long ago felled giants continue to feed the forested floor with the decaying wood. Beautiful, full ferns sprout from the tops of the now sideways trees. The champions lay precisely where they fell after a devastating flood in the 1960’s, their root system so very shallow, could not keep them upright in the weakened, saturated soil. I can only imagine the impact of it hitting the ground, surely it felt like an earthquake. The roar had to have been something of a train wreck and the massive wave it created in the flood waters must have been intense-intense. I picture something similar to high tide waves hitting cliff shore boulders, the impressive splash and height the foamy water reaching high, violently into the blue.
Its resting length is more than half of a football field and impossible to scramble to the end with the dense new-growth forest swaddling, caressing it. Even in its death it is fertilizing the forest for long-term health and providing essential habitats for endangered animal and insect species. Accordingly, these fallen trees are called nurse logs since they provide ecological facilitation to seedlings.
Puts giving your life for another in a completely different perspective.
These colossal ancient-of-days are at least 21 feet in diameter, jutting their spiking crowns 200-feet to over 400-feet into the sky. The thick, fibrous and split bark snakes irregularly upward and outward, cultivating protective highways and byways; trunk to branch, branch to twig, to the very narrow, high top of the tree. Protection is its mile marker, shielding the delicate inner structures from injury. This “guardian” is a thing of beauty, with tints of brown and red, shades of sienna and burnt umber all richly textured and variant. The cluster of trees so similar, the hues quite individual.
THE FOLLOWING MORNING I LEAVE MY CAMP EARLY AND BEGIN TO EXPLORE MORE FOREST. The feel of the land is very different in the early morning; a sense of refuge fills my spirit. Mystifying, even magical. So very quiet and tranquil. The environment is similar to a rain forest from another part of the world. Well, at least similar to photographs that I have seen of rain forests. And fortunately, this woodland is lacking the deadly snakes. There is a fantastic hush, a peaceful wonder in the air. The intensity of the giants can be overwhelming.
What an impressive, imaginative, creative God we serve. To have even thought up the idea of more than a septillion of created forms, with their reproductive capacities not to mention the inner, intricate workings and details, how it all works together, harmoniously, it’s too much for me to comprehend!
My God truly reigns.
A wild turkey trots across the path, quickly into camouflaging brush, and unfortunately too quick for me to capture on camera. Well, snap! I decide to stand still for a spell, see what else may cross my path. No more critters, but I spot an ugly banana slug among the debris. It is yellow-green with brown splotches, vacuuming the forest floor. Pass.
I capture a few pics of smaller nurse logs, redwood sorrel, orangebush monkey flower, a plethora of various ferns and mosses, and of course a pretty butterfly. Scrub jays are in abundance and squawk their territorial ranges, jousting, flying swiftly at intruding jays much like fighter jets.
I stand and attempt pics demonstrating the extreme height of the redwoods but struggle with getting dizzy as I tip my head back to capture it. Seriously. This really is “looking up”. But I did get some photos nonetheless.
I’m intrigued by the notches that remain in the tree stumps. I investigate and learn that the lumberjacks would hatch these notches in order to insert what is called a springboard. After seeing an old photo of these springboards, trust me, they are aptly named. One end of the board is placed in the notch, then they continue up the tree until the final springboard is inserted. It becomes a “platform” for the logger to begin chopping the behemoth down, all by hand. The springboard is used to get beyond the widest part of the tree to begin chopping at a narrower section. I would suppose that while they stood on these springboards, with the action of chopping either another notch to get higher, or from the vigorous action of sawing the giant tree down, that those boards they were standing on really began to “spring” up and down.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until much later that they discovered the wood from these trees was inadequate for building. Such an incredible, mortifying shame to have logged these ancient giants for nothing.
Crazy or gutsy, or desperate for work?
I’m so glad we are learning from our mistakes and are becoming better stewards of our facinating planet. Be kind to your environment, and leave no trace of your adventuring.
There are interesting info and photos at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logging Please check it out. It even shows where one springboard is inserted in a neighboring tree, enabling the logger to walk along the springboard to the opposite tree with just a vertical board placed to support the unnotched end of the springboard.
You may also enjoy:
http://ow.ly/kHcHV Joy Beyond Measure
http://ow.ly/kHcs2 My Resting Place
http://ow.ly/l2wbp Holding On Loosely
http://ow.ly/l8Xp8 Eight Grilling/Campfire Mistakes You Are Still Making
http://ow.ly/lyMMp Deforestation More Consequences
http://ow.ly/kHdaG A Very Special Touch