The mighty redwoods
August 13, 2019
We are in Calfornia!
And what a welcome we get. Immediately, we are impressed by the enormous trees surrounding us. And finally, we also get some shade. The redwoods with their sequoia trees are enchanting. We cycle like drunkards while gazing up with open mouths at the friendly giants.
These trees are up to 2000 years old. What?! Two thousand years old! Their secret lies in their 30cm thick bark and lack of resin that protects them from forest fires. Seedlings also do well in burnt areas.
These trees are among the biggest and oldest livings things on our planet! They can reach up to 115m and get 9m wide. Their root system is composed of a shallow network connecting many trees under the ground.
We stayed in the hiker biker camping of the Prairie Creek Redwoods state park. Nearby, wild Elk were grazing in the evening sun. The next day, we went for a quick hike to see the world’s largest organism (in cubic metres), the Big Tree.
The redwoods were sacred to the native Yurok people, who used them to build canoes and small houses. When the Europeans came though, a lot of the trees disappeared for extensive commercial logging from the 1850s onwards. Even without machinery, they managed to wipe out acres and acres with just saw and ax. The ones left standing were felled by the wind. The trees now have an endangered status. Redwood lumber is valued for its color, lightweight and durability. The area of Humboldt county was home to lumber lords of which you can still see the traces: lumber companies and mansions entirely built out of wood carvings (see next blogpost).