My daughter, Erika came and spent 5 days with me in September……It had been years since she and I had been able to have one on one time, so it was a really special time for us.
Our first day of exploring was to Sequoia National Park General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world at 52,508 cubic feet.
“I never saw a Big Tree that had died a natural death,” John Muir wrote of the giant sequoia. “Barring accidents they seem to be immortal, being exempt from all diseases that afflict and kill other trees. Unless destroyed by man, they live on indefinitely until burned, smashed by lightning, or cast down by storms, or by the giving way of the ground on which they stand.”
Muir’s observation remains generally accurate. Giant sequoias can live for over 3,000 years, outlasting all of their mixed conifer forest neighbors. What is it about giant sequoias that allow them to persist through millennia? Surprisingly, a major factor in the longevity of giant sequoias is a chemical called tannin. The tannin, present in high concentrations in sequoia bark, gives the sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, and fire.
It is difficult to appreciate the size of the giant sequoias because neighboring trees are so large. The largest of the sequoias are as tall as an average 26-story building, and their diameters at the base exceed the width of many city streets. As they continue to grow, they produce about 40 cubic feet (one cubic meter) of wood each year, approximately equal to the volume of a tree that’s 50 feet tall and one foot in diameter.
To avoid toppling over, sequoias lose branches, weak branches make for long-lived trees when they are attached to a stout central trunk and has the ability to grow new branches in its old age. What this means is that during extreme storms, branches will fail but the tree itself is likely to survive.
This is what happened to the General Sherman Tree during the New Year’s storm of 1978. Powerful winds howled through the tree-tops, threatening the very existence of this ancient organism, but before the tree could be uprooted, one of its huge branches failed and crashed to the ground.
With a diameter of over six feet and a length in excess of 100 feet, this branch formed a huge “sail” during the storm, catching the wind like the sails on a square-rigged ship.
German Sherman Loop
Our next stop was Big Tree Loop……This1.5 mile paved trail was great! A beautiful meadow, large trees, and boulders.
On our trail walk we ran across this beautiful Golden Marmont living in the base of one of the fallen Sequoia trees. He was so awesome!
Another day we took a ride to Hume Lake and to one of the look-outs on the Generals’ highway.
Then a trip to Cedar Grove
Kings Canyon River
Grizzly Falls – By this late in the season the river and falls were pretty low, but it had a different kind of beauty from earlier in the spring when they were gushing with water.
On the banks of the Kings Canyon River at Cedar Grove
John Muir Rock and Kings River
Roaring Falls at Cedar Grove
River walk to Zumwalt Meadows – We did not get to walk the meadow loop due to the wooden walk bridge was washed out.
Long before Kings Canyon became a National Park in 1940, George Owen Knapp, a successful businessman from Santa Barbara, built a small hunting and fishing cabin along the banks of the Kings River. The cabin was subsequently used and preserved by the Park Service with the incorporation of the land into the park, and it has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin sits about a100 yards off the main road between Cedar Grove and Roads End.