Vacation to California to See Redwood Trees
California Redwood Trees
I have traveled to almost every state in the United States and by far one of the best experiences I have had is vacationing in California to see the giant Red Wood trees. The first time I saw the redwoods was when I was visiting San Francisco.
We visited Muir Woods, which is a very beautiful park full of red wood trees, and it also has a lot of tourists. I was immediately humbled by the height and the structure of the gorgeous redwoods, as they are the largest and tallest trees on the earth. I thought the trees were fascinating, and I got purchased some literature to learn more about them.
Muir Wood, San Francisco
Muir Woods - just Noth of the Golden Gate Bridge
World Map of Redwood Trees
Standing in Front of a Huge Redwood Tree
Locations of Red Woods
About two years later I went to Portland and traveled down the Oregon and California coast near Shasta Mountain. There are numerous redwood forests with some Sequoia trees also, which gave me another opportunity to walk through the trees and enjoy their beauty. This time, however, I looked at the trees more closely as I had taken the time to learn much more about them.
I had wondered how the trees had survived fire, disease and insects. Redwoods are thought to have grown across the entire globe in the days of the dinosaurs. There are still more areas in the world where redwoods grow then I realized which you can see on the map below. The Sequoia trees have a greater diameter, therefore more bulk, but the Coastal Redwoods grow tall all along a narrow strip of the coastline of the North West United States. Another variety of Redwood is called the Sierra Redwood and they grow in narrow valleys in the Sierra Mountains. The Dawn Redwood is the rarest and can be found in a single Valley in China.
Redwood National Park
Standing Inside a Redwood Peeking Out
Today there are 85,000 acres of old-growth redwood forest remains. Redwood trees typically live from 500 to 700 years, but they can live up to 2000 years, which is astounding to me.
What is unique about their lifelong lifespan are the many protections that they naturally have, such as their bark can be one foot thick, which makes them impervious to fire, diseases, fungus and insects. There is no insect that can kill a Redwood tree. The bark itself is unique because it contains both tannin and a sap that is mostly water which gives them tremendous fire resistance.
Redwoods are found in a specific type of climate which has moderate summer temperatures and lots of precipitation, either as raining or fog. This explains why we find them near the coast of California and Oregon, but not right on the water because they don't like the salt spray.
A walk among the Giants
Regenerative Capability of the Redwood
Another unique characteristic that I saw was a live redwood that had fallen and it was continuing to grow with its limbs pointed up turning into trees. This is one reason some of the groups of trees are so dense. Surprisingly the root system is shallow for a tree of this height. They have no taproot and the roots reach no deeper than 6 to 12 feet with a 1” diameter. One of the ways the trees have remained upright for hundreds of years is because they grow close together and him which can sometimes be several feet thick.
A key to their survival is the regenerative capabilities of the redwood involving the burl. The burl is made up of dormant redwood stems covered in bark which grows when a redwood is cut, damaged, injured or diseased. The lumpy outgrowth from the trees trunk usually at the base will have saplings sprouting from these burls. These saplings will grow and be genetically identical to the original tree.
The Largest Sequoia Tree - General Sherman
Bixby Bridge -Big Sur Ahead
Visit Big Sur
The next stop on our trip was Big Sur and as I had always heard it is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The green hills seem to roll down into the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, and it is a gorgeous site. In the vicinity of route A1A there are other redwood forests and I really enjoyed this visit even more because there weren't many people around. You look up and can't even see the top of these trees, as they are 300’ to 350’ tall, and they weigh upwards of 500 tons.
They grow close together and have huge trunks with thick bark. It was very quiet, with just a little breeze, and I felt like I had taken a step into another dimension, as the beauty was overwhelming. I could stand inside of a huge tree cavity and the tree was still alive which was amazing. The local residents are working on a restoration project to maintain these woods as fires have been a big problem in recent years.
There are many organizations that are working hard to save the redwoods. One of the better-known agencies is Save the Redwood League, which was founded in 1918. On their website they state that after 150 years of logging and real estate development, approximately 5% of the original 2,000,000 acre coastal redwood forest remains. They have protected more than 189,000 acres and have developed 63 redwood parks and reserves for people to enjoy. Of course, they take donations right on their website.
There are several other foundations also that are working to save the redwoods. My hope is that they will be successful in their goals. I believe there are other types of wood that can be used, which can be replanted and will grow much more quickly. The redwood and sequoia are such treasures to waste for someones fancy coffee table.
© 2011 Pamela Oglesby
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