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Our Favorite Places - Among the Giant Trees

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The giant sequoias and redwoods of California are trees without parallel. To walk in a forest of such magnificent size is a privilege that few people in the world have. There is no way to read about the sequoias and redwoods and truly appreciate them. Our base camp was at Visalia, CA. We hiked numerous trails in Sequoia National Park. To see trees partially burned out and still standing tall and strong was amazing. Realizing that the branches of these trees are the size of the trunks of what we would consider huge trees is also amazing. It is no wonder that loggers looked at these trees and immediately thought about the tremendous amount of wood they would provide. Unfortunately or fortunately perhaps, there is no way to fell one of these trees and get useful lumber from them. Walking up to a log in the forest provides another way to drink in the majesty of these giants.

After admiring the General Sherman and Grant Trees, we hiked the Congress trail at a leisurely pace, learning more about the sequoias as we walked around and through them. The Congress Group is an impressive assemblage of giant sequoias. These trees reinforce each other through interlocking and sometimes shared roots. The Big Trees Loop Trail is a shorter trail among some very large trees. Finally one of the most spectacular view points in the park is at Moro Rock. There are rails all along the way for safety. The steep climb up stairs and ramps is not for the feint of heart. It leads to a windy spot atop a narrow bare rock. From there the view is shear rock faces and deep valleys. You get a real top-of-the-world feeling from that point. There are bears in Sequoia National Park, we saw one that retreated across the road ahead of us. We saw a few deer but wildlife is not the high point here. The trees are the stars here.

In the Redwoods, we never made it to Redwood National Park but found plenty of redwoods at Humbolt Redwoods State Park and along the Old Redwood Highway. Our campground at Redcrest on the Old Redwood Highway was an excellent point from which to explore the entire Redwood area. We were in fact camped under a redwood tree in a grove of redwoods. We were a short drive from Humbolt Redwoods State Park. The redwoods are the tallest trees, towering over even the sequoias. I rode my bicycle along the old redwood highway in the early mornings feeling both insignificant and the luckiest person on Earth at the same time. We enjoyed a number of trails among the redwoods and learned much about their history and life cycle. We also drove our car through a redwood tree and explored a tree house in a redwood stump. Redwood trees can and are used for lumber so it is only through the efforts of conservationists and preservationists that the old large trees remain.

There are small plots of land with redwoods throughout the area. We walked one small plot from one end to the other. Along the way there were interpretative signs. The trail was small and there were no other hikers. The feeling of being alone in a large forest all alone made one feel like a "hobbit," a tiny being in a much larger world. We saw fallen trees with new trees growing from the dead trunks lying horizontal on the ground. We stood beside root balls that were three times our height and walked along the tops of logs well above the forest floor. The scenes were magical in their beauty and we often walked in silence simply admiring the majesty of it all. The sequoias and redwoods are some of the most amazing living wonders of the natural world.

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