Humbled by Giants

April 16th

 

Today we were humbled by Giants…we drove along the Avenue of Giants, which stretches for about 30 miles winding back and forth across the 101. We saw literally perhaps 15 people all day – this is our kind of country. Time to stop, time to gaze, time to just be in awe of this magical place. No words can really describe the majesty of these magnificent trees, trees that have stood here  almost since the beginning of time. I know now why the Americans have invented the word “awesome” it’s for times and places like this. The average age of the Redwoods in this area is 600 years , they are HUGE, you can stand inside the ones that have lost their centre to fire, though still remain alive; you can hug those so big you can’t even get your arms part of the way round, you can drive through the one that still grows skywards even though it’s completely hollow. But all the while it’s as if you should seek permission to be here, permission to touch, and permission to look! The silence commands that you whisper, the sunlight shines a spotlight on the undergrowth as you pass by the tall reverent sentinels of the forest, an insignificant being in this wondrous backdrop. But all around are those that have fallen… perhaps brought down by wind, perhaps because they are dead, but even in death they fulfil a purpose. The forest lives on with the help of nutrients from decaying material. They lie amongst their comrades, proud to the end, entirely beautiful as they burst with all manner of new life. So many shades of green you cannot imagine the palette that nature has summoned for her use, each hue exaggerated with piercing burst of sunlight. But all around is deafening quiet; the birds that inhabit the utmost canopy soar over the ocean during the day, returning to roost only at dusk. The multitude of life beneath your feet marches on silently, unseen and unheard. Each turn in the path unveils another magical scene almost to fantastic to be real.

There are a couple of disconcerting elements though, take the “widow makers” for example…(Malc is holding one in one of our pictures) in times of drought these huge trees “shed” branches in order to conserve water and nutrients. Said branches could come from hundreds of feet up, said branches fall to the ground rapidly, said branches pierce what ever they happen to hit, be it person, ground or whatever!! Periodic creaking that broke the silence as we walked, had us not knowing whether to peer upwards or run like h—. Then there’s the poison oak (the “pretty” light green creeper) that decorates trunks and ground alike, OK it only gives you a nasty, itchy rash for 36 hours or so, but no thanks!

Some “interesting” facts:

  • This area has about 60 – 80” of rain a year – no wonder it’s green!
  • The knobbly bits on the tree trunks are “burls” they contain dormant buds to renew growth if the tree dies.
  • The trees release an unbelievable amount of water in to the atmosphere – up to 500 gallons a day!
  • It may take up to 400 yrs for a fallen tree to rot down completely
  • Each ton of tree has taken 100 tons of water to grow 

All of which is “awesome”!

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