More California Love

May 16, 2021

I’m struggling to find a title for this post…. no way to describe how overwhelming — in a good way — it is to walk among the massive redwoods at Calaveras Big Trees. They are startlingly massive. Giant sequoias really are, no exaggeration, the biggest trees on earth. That’s just an incredible fact right there.

There may be specimens that are slightly bigger than the ones at CBT — like a tree here or there in Sequoia or Kings Canyon — but as a species, these are the biggest growths on our planet. It’s kinda crazy to stand next to one.

It’s almost eerie if it’s super quiet (like it was) and you’re the only one around (which I also was). I saw a good number of people early in my stroll through the North Grove but, for some reason, the visitors dwindled after about a half a mile. A person here or there, but mostly I was alone. (Thank you, pandemic, it was quite a treat.)

At one point, I was walking around a tree, crunching through some dry twigs and pine cones. The sound of that, the smell of the forest, the warmth of the weak sun confirmed I was in my most favorite place on earth. Rushes of memories were triggered with those smells, sounds, and the dry mountain air. It was pure Sierra Mountains and I started to well up. I kept walking, staring up and down towering trunks, smelling that smell, and surprising myself with tears. It just moves me. A little sappy but.. ya know.. it’s real. Awesome in the truest sense.

Anyway, after a lovely Sunday morning in Bear Valley, Sally and I headed out — she back to Mountain Ranch to tend to her dad, me to Davis (obvs). I was driving down Hwy 4 and was so surprised to see the sign (a sign I hadn’t noticed before) for Calaveras Big Trees. I had no idea that’s where the State Park was. I pulled a big u-ey and am so glad I did!

Here are some pics:

The first thing I noticed, besides a lot of big trees, were the dogwoods. So pretty, so lacy, so delicate among the giants.

This is considered the most massive tree in the grove. Not the tallest, but inch for inch more mass than any other. They call it the Empire State. It’s 30 feet in diameter at its base, and it’s still 16 feet in diameter at approximately 50 feet up. It’s thick and chunky, as giant trees go.

I looked up a lot… as you do.

This one is looking up from inside a fallen tree! You can walk nearly the length of this giant sequoia, standing up in some parts. Some of its trunk was split, providing the sky light. It’s very cool.

Mostly, it was just sublime walking through the forest… I think they said there were 150 giants.. but there were also just garden variety redwoods, sugar & ponderosa pines, cedars and firs, too. Ho hum.

Here’s what a lot of the trail looked like and a couple of folks for scale:

An iPhone hardly does it justice.

Did I say I love California?