Big Trees Meet Pygmies in NorCal

Can you spot me in this photo with the famed Big Tree in Humboldt Redwoods State Park?


No? How about in this one?


These ancient redwoods in northern California are the largest in the world, thanks to the area’s temperate rainforest climate and dense ocean fog, which keeps ‘em quenched:


Along the Avenue of Giants, a 30-mile roadway that runs parallel to Highway 101, is the great Grandfather Tree: 1800 years old, 245 feet tall, and 24 feet in diameter currently:


Its shadow fills the entire parking lot!

Compare these monsters with the stunted inhabitants of the Pygmy Forest in Van Damme State Park, just eighty miles south:


This place was once under the Pacific Ocean; as the shoreline receded gradually over thousands of years, a series of dirt terraces were left. Rainwater washed nutrients from the soil shelves, leaving it highly acidic, so “nature, practicing a form of bonsai, has created vegetation that is dwarfed.”

This ain’t no sapling, but a fully mature adult:


(I’m talking about the tree, of course.)

In the town of Miranda, I stopped into a shop called the Redwood Palace & Trading Post. Owners David and Eriko had a lot to say about their neck of the woods:

Here’s what makes it so special: you go off the 101 Freeway, you pull your car up, you take a walk for 30 seconds, and you’re amongst the tallest trees in the world AND the thickest biomass in the world (seven and a half times more than the Amazon rainforest). It’s not just that it’s here, its the accessibility of what’s here. Usually you have to go into the forest to get to the best part; here the best part is right on the side of the road. There are other redwoods parks, but nothing compares to [Humboldt]. The beauty, the accessibility, it’s incomparable.

Oh, and if Humboldt County were a state, it’d be sixth in the country for most birds. We have more birds in Humboldt County than all of Europe combined. We have no industry, no big cities; we have rivers, streams, oceans, all the elements….


[Fluffy, nutrient-rich lichen called Reindeer Moss in the Pygmy Forest. It’s so delicate that the parks system constructed walkways amid the tiny trees to help prevent it from being trampled by visitors.]

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