|David wrote to Redwood World in 2012 with details of Slindon Woods and Chichester. He wrote again in June 2015 to say "I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Northern California, where I had four days to walk in the redwoods." Here is his own account of his favourite hike among the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forest.
Redwood National and State parks, California
"What is so great about redwoods?" I get asked that all the time by colleagues, friends (and my wife). I have always been a tree guy and first saw a redwood in Tullymore Forest Park, near my home in Northern Ireland. It is such a beautiful forest, with big trees, babbling brooks and lots of wildlife including red squirrels. It is hard to explain, but I truly challenge anyone who visits the coast redwoods of Northern California, not to come away in awe, or at least impressed, by the tallest living things on the planet.
The coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, are not the most massive trees on the planet (measured by volume). That record goes to the closely related Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant redwood), which grows in the Sierra mountains in Central California. Coast redwoods once covered an area of over 2 million acres but logging has reduced this to a little over 100 thousand acres of old growth. Most of this is now protected. The timber is a wonderful color, strength and rot resistance made it very attractive to the lumber industry.
Several of the coast redwoods are extremely massive trees as well, but it is their height that is remarkable. The tallest tree measured so far (and there may well be a taller one that has not yet been discovered), is in Redwood National Park. It was named Hyperion when it was discovered by Michael Talyor and Chris Atkins in 2006. Itís location is a closely guarded secret to prevent damage to the root system of the tree. The most recent measurement showed that Hyperion stood at 379 ft or 70ft taller than the Statue of Liberty!
Often the lowest branches are 150ft or more from the ground and this gives the forest a beautifully open feel. It is very difficult to take put their height into perspective. The trunks often rise, ruler straight and disappear out of sight into the canopy. These are true rainforests and it is the rain and mist from the Ocean that allow them to grow in this narrow strip along the northern coast of California and Southern Oregon.
Of course it is so much more than that. The parks are rarely busy and it is possible at times to enjoy almost total silence in a majestic grove. The quietest place in America is reputed to be in the Hoh forest in Olympic National Park, Washington, but I have heard it several times in these Northern California State Parks. Nothing. Absolute still. No traffic noise, no aeroplane drone and absolutely no cell phone chirping (reception is often very poor).
I visited the Parks for four days in April, prior to a conference and came home a lot more relaxed than before I left. The trails are often rough and steep and this would restrict the woods for some people. However that is what I like about the experience. Hiking alone in some wonderfully remote woods, early in the morning, in the mist with only the natural sound of the forest for company.
My favourite hike was an 8 mile round trip on the West ridge and Prairie Creek trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This Park is incredibly lush and open, with green everywhere you look. Moss and lichen cover anything that stands still for too long, and the understory is a carpet of Ferns. The trails here are a little less manicured than in other parks and flow with the terrain and can be often steep and a little rough. To me this adds a real sense of the pristine and unspoiled feel of the forest.
There are a lot of huge trees near the visitor center, but the beauty of this walk is the diverse scenery. From the visitor center at the north end of the park, you cross the creek and follow the signs for West ridge trail. After a few hundred yards the sign points you upwards and the trail climbs steeply. The elevation change is around 600 ft.
The ridge is just that, with varied trees visible to left and right. The ridge meanders gently up and down and quickly any sounds from the creek and the nearby route 101 fade away. When I visited it was raining steadily with a fine mist in the air and this really added an extra dimension for me. The trails are covered with fallen needles and have a wonderfully spongy feel which also keeps them dry.
To make a loop, the Miners Ridge joins up with Praire creek trail by taking the Zig Zag trail. This is pretty steep and literally zig zags back down the 600ft to the creek itself. The trail then returns back to the visitor center passing over the creek on several rickety bridges. The sound of the creek is always there and the road is also quite close by, but if you go early like I did, there is only the faint sound of a car every 20 or 30 minutes.
Decay and regrowth are everywhere.
There are detonation zones where a giant has fallen and literally exploded on impact.
Many old stumps have young shoots rocketing upwards in search of the sun.
The thick bark protects the trees from fire and lightning strikes, but many trees are so old that the scars are visible.
Even hollowed out after a lightning fire, the tree survives and continues to grow.
So what is it about the redwoods?
Well, everything really.
Thank you to David for that detailed and heartfelt account.
(Click picture to enlarge)
|Peggy is a fairly frequent visitor to the U.K. and all of her contributions so far have been in Scotland. She sent this picture of a Coast Redwood in the U.S. The best way to see it is in full size and you can do this by clicking on the small image.
Please note that you may need to click again on the enlarged picture to see the full detail on some browsers.
Peggy says "I thought you'd enjoy seeing this composite of six photos I took today, blended together in Photoshop to show the entire length of a huge Coast Redwood in Big Basin State Park, the first state park established in California."
Marvellous! The upper part of the tree appears a little oddly shaped because of the varying angles but I could not see the joins in the photographs, a brilliant piece of work. It is similar to the picture that appeared as a gatefold in the October 2009 issue of the National Geographic magazine, although they had the advantage of being able to move the camera up a structure, strung up alongside the tree, as they took the photographs. Perhaps next time Peggy you might shin up the adjacent tree with your camera...
Giant Redwood - General Sherman
(Click picture to enlarge)
Peggy and David paid a visit to Sequoia National Park, California in March 2012. Peggy says, "This is a beautiful grove quiet and serene in the snow and even the ponderosa pines and sugar pines are huge."
|Martin says "I went over to California in December 2009 and spent a whole day walking through the redwood park, Avenue of the giants, it blew me away and I fell in love with the Giant Redwoods."
Martin bought some seeds from the shop in the centre of the park and managed to get five to germinate but unfortunately only one now remains. He says "I was wondering what should be the best soil for them to grow in so i know for the future plus watering, I also keep them in the house and wondered what would be the best location for them."
The Avenue of the giants looks fantastic, there are some amazing trees there, I must go there someday!
The problem with your seedlings is most likely due to over-watering. Unlike flower seedlings, redwood seedlings really dislike being in soggy compost. Water sparingly, when the pot feels light, preferable from the base in a saucer. I hope your last one survives ok. Keep your seedling in a well ventilated area, near a window for light but protected from direct sunlight while it is small and struggling. I usually put mine outside once they get to three or four inches tall.
When I am potting up trees into larger tubs I use a mixture of standard compost, clean horticultural sand and some top soil. Probably a mixture of seven parts compost, one of sand and two of top soil. Don't use builders sand as it will contain some salt and other contaminants.
|Tom wrote to tell us about his trip to the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, California in August 2008 and sent photographs of the Grizzly Giant, the 25th largest Sequoia.|
|Tom says, "Wandering around those giants sparked my fascination with these trees and a "grow your own" kit that I brought home made me look for help on the internet, where I found your site which has helped me to now have a small greenhouse full of thriving, tiny Sequoia, Coast Redwoods, Dawn Redwoods and other trees!"|
|Owen also visited the Mariposa Grove. He says "As a professional nurseryman I have long been aware of giant redwoods. I have seen some of the large ones here in the U.K. but nothing compares to seeing them in the Sierra Nevada. They are breathtaking!"|