Monday, October 29, 2007

Coast Vacation 3: Trees of Mystery

Steve saw the redwoods years ago with his first wife. They went camping. He knew that our first stop should be the National Park Service in Crescent City. This was Wednesday, October 3rd, and on that Friday we planned to drive to Crater Lake. The forest ranger told us the Crater Lake rim drive was closed due to snow. Uh-oh. Steve knew of a trail through a grove of trees that led to a river. The park ranger told us how to get to Stout Grove. This was an amazing first view of the redwoods for me.

redwood first view

When I began seeing trees growing on trees, it finally sunk in that I was seeing trees unlike any I'd seen before.

mama holding baby redwood

See the Stout Grove slideshow here.

Some years back we spent a weekend on the Washington coast, and went to the Hoh Rain Forest. I learned then (that carefree weekend before 9/11/01) that those old growth trees have a life and afterlife of thousands of years. After they fall, baby trees and other plants grow on the tree's carcass. The roots grow down around the trunk and reach into the ground. The mother tree eventually decomposes completely, and often there will be a line of full-grown trees along the line of her trunk, a cozy hollow tree-root cave under each of their trunks.

We saw something similar with the redwoods; many plants and baby trees grew on or alongside the fallen trunks. I noticed though that there were no root caves. Instead, smaller trees grew right next to living trees, on living trees, alongside dead trunks. I wondered about their roots, how deep they went. Later on during our trip, I learned that redwoods indeed have a short tap root. They reach for the sun, so a tree could grow from a burl straight out from another tree's trunk, and then curve upward to reach toward the sunlight. The tree growing on tree seemed to have no roots at all.

From the Stout Grove we drove to Trees of Mystery.
The candelabra tree is an amazing example of baby trees growing on another living tree. We saw other examples like this, but none with the audio tours at Trees of Mystery that sounded like old elementary school teaching films.
Candelabra tree
The light in the forest was too dim for my photo of the Cathedral Tree. That was a popular spot for people to get married, the Brotherhood Tree had some little wooden mementos as well.

Brotherhood Tree

Considering we so often saw baby trees growing next to old trees, I don't think the Cathedral Tree is all that mysterious. At some point there was an old tree with baby trees growing around it. Eventually the old tree died and decayed, and the rim of small trees was left. Or so it seems to me, I could be wrong.

Here's the smaller baby cathedral:

baby cathedral tree

You can see the full slideshow here. Included is a gallery of Bunyan legend carvings, and if we pushed the button on the sound boxes, we heard the tales of Paul Bunyan and his logging adventures.

The one I remembered from my childhood grade school reading was not mentioned. One time Paul Bunyan had a real hankering for some flapjacks, but how could they fry them? Somehow he had a giant frying pan. All the little people strapped slabs of lard under their feet, and they skated around the fry pan so Paul Bunyan could have his flapjacks.

Steve wanted some of Sourdough Sam's soup.

They had a great map at Trees of Mystery. Steve was disturbed, and so was I, that this original piece of art wasn't more protected. The owners don't seem to know what they have.

Slideshow of the map here. Steve took most of the map photos. A detail below:
bear near Seattle

1 comment:

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

Glad to read that you enjoyed the redwoods.

The redwoods and the coastal forests of Oregon are my favorite hiking and exploring places.

There are 3 redwoods on this page, that are in the same park as Stout Grove:

Largest Coastal Redwood Trees / Photos

Lost Monarch and Del Norte Titan are two of the ones shown. I make this page available at most blogs I find which are related to redwoods so other can see what those undisclosed trees look like.


M. D. Vaden of Oregon