The giant sequoias and tall redwoods had my interest since I was growing up. I was once asked to define my dream vacation, and I quickly responded “The Redwood Forest”. Not the beach, not the mountains….but trees. Well, I haven’t made it to see the redwoods *yet*, but I have taken advantage of an opportunity to see another giant among trees, the sequoias, at the national park of the same name.
We left Los Angeles in the morning and arrived at the Sequoia National Park by mid-afternoon. It was quite a drive for one day. We anxiously headed into the park to see the largest living thing on earth…the General Sherman tree. It looked like a short drive from the park entrance according to the map, but oh my…there are a lot of switchbacks as you go gain altitude to arrive at the sequoia forest. This is one time I wish I’d taken my own advice and stayed overnight inside the park. Or maybe this is when I formulated that tip for future reference. We stayed at a motel right outside the park, and it took us over an hour to get to our motel after hiking among these giant living beings. The cinder block motel was cute with friendly owners, a cozy pool, and the most uncomfortable hotel bed ever. But our girls had a great time in the pool.
As I was writing this post, I realized there’s a significant similarity between the sequoias and the saguaro cactus. They are both relatively slow growers and have a limited range due to their specific altitude and habitat requirements. As you travel throughout the Sonoran Desert and Arizona, you will find the saguaro in limited areas because it desires rocky ground, altitude below 4000 feet, and temperatures above the freezing mark.
Most of the giant sequoias are between 5000 and 7000 feet. Fire is required to release seeds from the sequoias cones.
It’s because of the needs of these species, and the foresight of others in setting aside these public lands, that we have unique places such as these national parks for our enjoyment.
“The Big Tree is nature’s finest masterpiece…the greatest of all living things, it belongs to an ancient stock and has a strange air of another day about it, a thoroughbred look inherited from long ago–the Auld Lang Syne of Trees .” John Muir