In the Land of the Giants

Click on the picture for a larger view

On one of our early visits to Nelder Grove, we took a drive up one of the roads that led out of the campground. On the way we saw a couple of large trees. Then as we reached the top of the ridge and came around a bend, we saw a striking sight: Two huge dead snags, a few large trees, and a mini-forest of stumps (photo bottom right).

Click here to see a close-up of the top of the snag in the background.

Snags, standing dead trees, usually with few or any branches, are common in the forest, but rare among redwoods. The giant sequoia’s bark, up to 16 inches thick, is highly fire resistant, and the trees are not susceptible to insects or disease. Redwoods usually fall while still living. We could not help but wonder what cataclysmic event broke off the tops of these big trees (photo left).

Several living giants stand nearby, including the grove’s patriarch, the Old Granddad, pictured above. Many older redwoods have broken tops and jagged limbs, but this is a particularly dramatic specimen.

With living trees, tall stumps and dead snags, this remote spot is a unique sight, one accessible now only to those willing to walk three miles uphill. The official name is Graveyard of the Giants, not that different from the name I applied in 1969.

 

 

It’s harder to climb the stump now (1999) than it was 30 years ago...not because of age but because the USFS pulled out the big spikes someone had driven in to make the climb possible. Now (2014) that it's been 45 years, age does enter in.

Base of the Bull Buck Tree—nearly 30 feet in diameter at chest height.

Fire has burned through this spot, charring but not destroying the big stumps.

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Updated October 29, 2016