Friday, September 5, 2014
Mendocino Day Hike - part 2
Mary and I are familiar with the groves of Coastal Redwoods that dot the west coast from south of the Bay Area up to Oregon. We've taken a walk through Muir Woods - one of the National Parks in Marin County, driven through some of them on trips to the coast (there is a 10-mile stretch of route 128 from Healdsburg to Mendocino that winds through one grove), and we've taken horseback rides through another one on the North Coast. So as we left the pygmy forest, we looked forward to the descent down to the stream bed and the grove that we knew was down there in the ravine.
These trees are considered the world's tallest - they routinely reach 300 feet tall, and the tallest is around 380 feet. That's about 30 stories or higher. Giant Sequoias, which stand along the western slopes of the Sierra in Central California, are the largest trees, although they are not as tall as the redwoods.
Depending on the characteristics of the ravine they grow in, it can be quite dark on the forest floor in a redwood grove, but that wasn't the case at Van Damme State Park. The ravine is not as narrow as some, and there has been a history of harvesting trees, so what we found was pleasant, patchy sunlight. The conditions made for a nice under story of ferns and redwood samplings, although we also spotted a few hardwoods mixed in - and plenty of blooming wildflowers, it being late May.
They can grow from seed, but often these trees grow in what I like to call "family groups" - small trees sprout from the root system of mature parents. You see them forming a large ring of related young trees around a much larger tree. Here at Van Damm, a lot of the parent trees had been harvested, leaving the young ones crowded around a stump.
Here's a web site with additional information about the Coastal Redwoods - http://www.savetheredwoods.org/redwoods/coast-redwoods/ - a visit, to a grove is a humbling experience, always reminded me of the temporary nature of our human condition.
I'll close out today and the posts about this 5-mile day hike in Mendocino with a final photo. It shows how the coastal terraces in this region evolved into this modern phenomenon, with the pygmy cypresses, barely six feet tall, at the higher elevations, and these giant redwoods so close by only a hundred feet or so down the canyon.