Giant Sequoia National Monument
|Some views on the way up|
|On the right is the world's largest grove of the world's largest tree, the giant sequoia. This grove spans the area from the right of the peak of Old Baldy, the mountain on the left, to and over Redwood Mountain at right center of the photo. It covers almost five square miles of forest and contains more than 2,100 sequoias larger than ten feet in diameter. Truly "Big Tree" country.|
Although protected by law not all the threats to these giants are behind us. Scientists are studying the effects of air pollution from the San Joaquin Valley on these trees. Eternal vigilance is the price of preserving our natural treasures.
The smoke in the photos below is from a prescribed fire in the grove. Park managers ignite prescribed fires to reduce fuels, stimulate new growth and restore the natural processes of fire. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have been conducting prescribed fires since 1968. Scientific monitoring has shown that these fires make sequoia forests healthier, more resilient and encourage the growth of young trees.
Prescribed fires also produce new trees. The seeds of the giant sequoia remain inside the closed cones for as long as 10-20 years. Fire opens the cones and releases the seeds, recycles nutrients into the soil, thins out competing species of trees and leaves behind nutrient-rich ash and mineral soil for sequoias to germinate.
Closeup of the burn area
Another view of Redwood Mountain
|A couple of interesting rock formations near the overlook|
Looking up into three giants
Sequoia National Park
Among the giants
|The bark of the sequoia is very thick and fibrous. These factors help protect them from fires, acting as insulation from the heat and keeping it away from the center of the tree.|
|That would be me again. The photo on the right was taken up inside the hollow in the big sequoia below.|
|On left is looking out from inside that same big tree. There were hundreds of people walking around this grove, but this deer wasn't frightened|
|These are from an overlook. I was pretty high up there, over 7000 feet.|
|I stopped at the Lodgepole Visitor Center to buy a pin for my hat band.|
|On the left a Park Ranger gives a presentation to visitors. I really want one of those ranger hats. At right is a fallen giant. If you look closely at the left a man is going into an opening cut into the tree by the red fence. Big tree.|
|This is the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree on the planet|
Visitors clowning around the Sherman
Me not clowning around
|There are trees taller and trees bigger around than the General Sherman Tree, but no tree has greater mass. The amount of space taken up by it's trunk is greater than that of any other tree.|
The top of the General Sherman is dead and upward growth has stopped at 275 feet, however, it continues to grow outward increasing its diameter each year. Many redwoods and sequoias reach heights of well over 300 feet, but this is the largest tree by volume.
As long as a sequoia tree lives, its trunk thickens, gaining mass. Each year the General Sherman Tree gains enough new wood to equal a very large tree of most other species.
The volume of this tree is 52,500 cubic feet or 1,487 cubic meters. Its weight is 1,385 tons and the circumference at the base is 130 feet. Its age is estimated to be 2,200 years old.
Group of three
I couldn't resist
|This woman, driving the "Follow me" vehicle, had to stop and pass the time of day with the flagmen on both ends of the construction zone. On my return trip we were the last group held up for construction. The work crew had headed for home.|
|That's one big burl|
|This slab is from the stump of a giant sequoia cut down in 1950. The tree threatened to fall on rental cabins that were in the area. Recognizing the hazard to both visitors and trees, the park eventually moved overnight facilities out of the sequoia grove. This made it safer for people and the trees.|
The cross-section slab tells the story of fire and survival. The annual growth rings show this tree lived about 2,210 years. During that time, at least 80 different fires burned hot enough to leave a scar.
Growth rings are wider next to the fire scars. After a fire, sequoias grow faster for a few years. It may be due to decreased competition for nutrients and water for several years after surrounding plants are burned away.
The right photo is a closer look at the heart of the tree.
|You can see the people standing in front of the slab on the left. On right is more sequoia forest.|
|Light through the sequoias. Where that violet light in the road came from, I do not know.|
|How could a creek called Clover Creek be a river of death?|
|Some people never learn|
|Here the action of the water is backcutting a small cave into the rock|
Kings Canyon National Park
|The General Grant Grove|
I had mixed emotions about whether or not to visit Kings Canyon National Park. Time was drawing short for the return trip to the Valley. On my way back down from Sequoia, I saw a sign welcoming me to Kings Canyon. (no place to stop and take a photo) A check of more signs in the area showed the General Grant Grove just a couple of miles from the turn off back down to the San Joaquin Valley. I am glad I made this short sidetrip.
Much of the park is wilderness and the park contains the second largest roadless landscape in the lower 48 states. This area includes the Monarch and John Muir wilderness areas.
|On the left is a view of a part of Kings Canyon National Park from an overlook in the Sequoia National Forest. On the right I am standing at the base of the General Grant Tree.|
6 feet people, 60 foot bus and a tree
The General Grant Tree is just too tall to photograph from this close. This photo is two photographs stitched together.
The General Grant is 267.4 feet tell, 107.6 feet in circumference at the base, 28.9 feet in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground. It is estimated to be about 1650 years old.
I like the light playing around in this shot
|Ater this grove was set aside as General Grant National Park in 1890, this log was used for a while as an employee camp.|
Bears and other creatures have most likely used the Fallen Monarch for shelter. Undoubtedly, the Indians that came to the high country in the summer used the hollow trees. Homesteaders Thomas and Isreal Gamlin used the log as a house and a saloon to serve visitors to the area. Also the U.S. Cavalry used the tree as a stable for their horses.
No one knows how long ago this tree fell. A high tannin content makes Giant Sequoia wood undigestible to fungi, bacteria, insects and other decay organisms. These trees decay very slowly. The Fallen Monarch has remained virtually unchanged for well over 100 years.
Another fallen giant
|On the left is a photo of the same four trees from the right photo above. On right is the General Grant tree from another angle. Size isn't everything. For a long time the General Grant Tree was deemed largest in the world. New techniques giving more accuracy in measuring changed that. However, as trees go, I found the General Grant to be a much more impressive tree. Especially in the size to age category and the fact that is is still getting taller.|
|When two seeds germinate close to one another, a couple of things can happen. First, is that the older and stronger will take all the water and nutrients from the soil and choke the other out. Second, is that they will eventually grow together as the examples above have done.|