Really Big Trees


September 15th and 16th, 2011

I was disappointed with Yosemite, so I had a bit of dread as I headed for Kings Canyon and the Giant Sequoia National Park. When I did my route, seeing the Giant Sequoia’s was something I had to do, and putting it on the route meant skipping the Golden Gate and Hwy 1 along the coast.

So heading for King’s Canyon I had a certain trepidation. But traffic was light, and there were no back ups as I entered the park. That made me feel better. I asked at the ranger station to ask where I should be going, and was directed to the Sherman tree. First I went to the visitor center.

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You might have to zoom in on the picture some, but there are dates back to the 1500s.

Kings Canyon, while not technically the Giant Sequoia National Park, still has a collection of Sequoias. After asking, the one to go and see is the General Grant tree, which is a short hike (or shorter drive) from the Visitor center. I opted for the walk since I was feeling a bit lazy and decided exercise would be good.

The hike was mostly through the woods, and this was my first real exposure to the giant trees.

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I have seen pictures of giant sequoias, I think just about everyone has, but it isn’t the same as seeing them in real life. And, as it turns out, these were the small ones.

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The hiking trail actually went through one of the tress that had fallen at some point.

Of course, before there was a park the Sequoias had been used for lumber, since one tree happened to have a lot of lumber in it. One tree was cut down for an exhibition, but had to be sectioned for transport. No one believed one tree could be that large.

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You can sort of see the stump behind the sign. I couldn’t get a better picture without leaving the path, and there were lots of signs asking me not to. Of course, there were lots of people ignoring the signs, too, but I decided to be good.

I reached the General Grant tree, and took a pictureIMG_7483

but there wasn’t any scale. I tried another pic

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But I don’t think it was any better. The General Grant tree was huge.

I camped in King’s Canyon, and in the morning headed for the Giant Sequoia National Park, which shares most of a border with King’s Canyon, and both are in the Giant Sequoia National Forest. I had already been told to go and see the General Sherman tree, so after asking about it at the visitor center I rode over. Yup, no hiking. I would have to hike a trail from the parking lot to get to the tree and I thought that would be enough.

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As I hiked towards the Sherman tree I entered the grove of Giant Sequoias that had caught the attention of the initial Europeans to explore the area. These trees were about the same size as the Grant tree, and there were a lot of them.

Of course, that wasn’t why I was there.

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See the pattern of bricks in the pavement? That is the base of the General Sherman tree. I couldn’t find a spot on the trail that let me get the whole thing into one picture. 109 feet in diameter.

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Because of it’s diameter, no other tree in the world has more wood than the Sherman, and it’s still growing. The top of the tree is dead, so it won’t get any taller, but will continue to grow larger around each year.

The General Sherman tree had the closest thing to a crowd I had seen in Kings Canyon or the Sequoia NP, so I didn’t linger as long as I might have. Besides there was something else I wanted to see.

Another picture I have grown up knowing about was a car, an old one, driving through the trunk of a living Sequoia. Unfortuneatly that tree fell down before I was born, and it was in Yosemite anyway which means it would have had a line reaching to Canada. But, there is a tree tunnel in the Giant Sequoia NP, so I headed over there.

The road was fun, and I took a video with my new GoPro, but I am still learning about that whole ‘vlog’ thing so you will have to wait for it, sorry. I did take some pictures too

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Oh, and there was a bear.

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With the usual crowd of people out of their cars and taking pictures. One didn’t like that I wouldn’t turn my bike off and might “scare it.” I solved the problem by riding off.

The tunnel was more cool in theory than fact,

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but still cool. I mean, that was a big tree.

I rode out of the park generally south. I was still in the national forest.

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And enjoying spectatular views. As night started to close in I found a state park, which was completely deserted. There was a sign saying if the both was unmanned to sit up and someone would come by in the morning. So I did, but no one ever showed up. It even had showers.

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