Sunday, January 8, 2012

King of the Grove: Avenue of the Giants

There is a fascinating story taking place in the Redwood forests. I drove up to the Avenue of the Giants yesterday to take a walk in a few groves that I haven't visited yet. One particular grove consisted of the predictable large trees here and there, although the forest did not look as healthy as other groves I've seen. There were no gardens growing on the tops of the fallen logs, although they were covered with the brown, dead redwood pine needles. After walking for a few minutes, I arrived at the unmistakable king of the grove
and took a picture.
Just past the "King of the Grove" I noticed a small logging road coming down the hillside, and immediately there were old stumps all over the hillside and along the forest floor. Many of the stumps are about six feet high. The reason is that the early lumberjacks used springboards because often the tree is several feet thinner in diameter a few feet up. There were several notches in the stumps where the loggers inserted the springboards. Where I was now walking, the big trees were gone and much skinnier redwoods were growing in its place. The forest looked very incomplete. I started to wonder why the loggers hadn't cut the "King of the Grove."
 Well, as it turned out, I think the loggers did in fact try to cut the King before the grove was ultimately saved! After walking back to the King and examining it's base, there was what appeared to be a giant notch that had been cut out near the bottom. However, where the notch had once been, it looked like the tree had completely rejuvenated itself! I tried to take pictures above to show what the tree looked like. Why the loggers didn't put a sringboard on this tree I don't know.
 I thought it was pretty darn amazing that this massive tree was able to heal itself and fill in the damaged notch with new tree material. How cool is that! Of course, this is just a hypothesis, but that's what it looks like happened. After visiting the Visitor Center, I drove to the Rockefeller Forest. After walking around an hour or so in awe, darkness began to settle. I think this is THE spot for old growth exploration.

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