Sunday, June 28, 2009



I have always been fascinated by the many large redwood trees I have seen on various trips to California .

On our last trip to the west coast we had traveled down the Oregon coast for a week ending in Crescent City , California .

Since I was to speak in another week back up in Northern Oregon we decided to avoid I-5 and take some time by venturing another highway that took us into the Redwoods. The 78-mile stretch from Crescent City to Eureka has been dubbed the Redwood Highway . Not only does it pass through Redwood National and State Parks, it makes a scurry past Trinidad State Beach , Patrick's Point State Park , Humboldt Lagoons State Park , and the interesting communities of Arcata and Trinidad . You're smack dab alongside the rugged Pacific coast almost all the way, so along with Redwood Forest you'll be treated to visions of pounding surf, sea stacks, thrilling cliffs, and lush redwood forest.

While we did not drive the entire way, I should mention that the Redwood grows in a very narrow strip along the coast of California from the extreme southwestern corner of Oregon to 150 miles south of San Francisco in the Soda Springs drainage of Big Sur. This area is about 500 miles long and rarely more than 20 or 30 miles wide in a region of frequent thick-summer fog, moderate year-round temperature, and considerable winter rainfall.
They usually grow in the mountains where there is more precipitation from the incoming moisture off the ocean. The tallest and oldest trees are found in deep valleys and gullies, where year-round streams can flow, and fog drip is regular.

My research revealed the trees above the fog layer are shorter and smaller due to the drier, windier, and colder conditions.

The current tallest redwood tree is Hyperion, measuring at 379.1 feet. The tree was discovered in Redwood National Park during the summer of 2006 by two men. The "Dyerville Giant" was the record holder. It stood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park ; it was 113.4 meters high and estimated to be 1,600 years old.

To my surprise I found that the natural distribution of giant sequoia is restricted to a limited area of the western Sierra Nevada , California . It occurs in scattered groves, with a total of 68 groves. The northern two-thirds of its range, from the American River in Placer County southward to the Kings River , have only eight disjunct groves. The remaining southern groves are concentrated between the Kings River and the Deer Creek Grove in southern Tulare County . They are protected in Sequoia (America's second national park) and Kings Canyon National Parks and Giant Sequoia National Monument by the park service. On a number of previous trips I have visit these trees with some named after famous Generals. Below to the right is the General Sherman.

Another area I have visited is the Mariposa Grove south of Yosemite if you enter from the south side of the park. This is the park where the giant Sequoia, you may have seen, that showed a picture taken years ago of a car driving through a large cut out at the base of the tree. A friend and I visited this grove once and walked through another fallen tree from one end to the other end and could not even touch the top of the hollowed out decayed tree.
These trees, however, aren’t the oldest living things A type of ancient bristlecone pine tree nicknamed "Methuselah" located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of the White Mountains near Bishop, California is 4,700 years old, as measured by annual ring count on a small core taken with an increment borer. Its exact location is kept secret, since an older specimen, nicknamed "Prometheus", was cut down in 1964. It is the oldest known tree in North America.
And Giant Sequoias aren’t the tallest living things, either. The related coastal redwoods grow higher, up to 368 feet. These “Sierra redwoods” top out around 310 feet, the tallest in the Mariposa Grove is about 290 feet.

Giant Sequoias don’t even have the greatest basal diameters. The Montezuma cypress of Mexico may exceed 50 feet. The largest known Giant Sequoia is just over 40 feet in basal diameter.

So why did these trees capture the attention of the world when discovered by western Europeans in the early 1850’s? Simply stated, in total volume the Giant Sequoias are the largest living things known to humans.

Trees of these species are interesting to see and to ponder their tremendous size. Like the poet James Joyce of years past I can agree, “Only God can make a tree.”
Lettuces, radishes, and such garden crops are soon out of the ground and ready for the table--a month almost suffices to perfect them. But an oak requires long centuries to come to the fullness of its growth. Compare this with the Redwood or Sequoia that take many more years to reach giant proportions.

Likewise consider our spiritual growth. Those graces which are most precious and durable will cost us longest to produce. Those good things which spring up hastily may have some transient worth about them, but we cannot look for permanence and value in them. There is no need to deplore the slowness of our spiritual growth, if that which comes of it is of a solid character.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”-- Ephesians 4:14-15

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” --2 Peter 1:5-8

I Pray God's blessings on you today,
Alton Loveless
Philippians 4:19