The Giants of California

No, we are not talking about the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, but rather the majestic largest trees on the planet – the Giant Sequoias.  Along picturesque highway 395 is the gateway to Yosemite National Park from the east.  No, we did not stop at Yosemite on this trip, but we did spend about a week there a few months before our retirement.  Since Yosemite National Park is located in the Eastern Sierra we decided to  insert our past excursion to the Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove.  Our previous blog was about the Ancients, this one is about the Giants.

Mariposa Groove

Mariposa Grove

These giants are not the oldest living things, that title belongs to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine tree that we talked about in our previous post.  In total volume the giant sequoias are the largest living things known to humans.  However, they are far outlived by the Bristlecone pine (4600 years old while the Sequoias only make it to around 3266 years).  The Bristlecones grow extremely slowly, while the Sequoias owe their size to rapid growth rather than their age.

We took the tram that winds through the Giant Forest, where we were awestruck by the Sequoia’s grandiosity and their massive trunk size.  They are not only tall, (you have to crane your neck straight up to see the top), but they are also broad – a car can be driven through some of them!  We got off the tram and hiked down to get a closer look at the many incredible giants in the forest.  We were indeed the dwarfs walking among the giants – an indescribable feeling.

Meet a few of the Giants…from the Mariposa Grove.

The Grizzly Giant is number 26 on the largest tree list and is estimated to be 1800 years old.  It is indeed a grizzly – its tall, its huge and enormous!

Grizzly giant

Grizzly Giant

Trunk of Grizzly Giant

Trunk of Grizzly Giant

The Clothespin Tree is named as such for it looks like a clothespin from afar.  The natural tunnel caused by numerous fires is wide and can fit a car.

Clothespin Tree

Clothespin Tree

Bachelor and Three graces

Bachelor and Three Graces

Mariposa Tree

Mariposa Tree

The fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree collapsed in 1969 under a record snow load after being weakened by the massive hole in its base.  Note that the Sequoias do not have deep tap roots, rather the roots are spread out as far as 150 feet fairly near the surface to provide a stable base to balance its massive size.

Fallen Monarch

A Fallen Giant

The California Tunnel Tree was cut in 1895 to allow horse drawn stages to pass through and is the only remaining tunnel tree in the forest.

California Tunnel Tree

California Tunnel Tree

Because the Yosemite National Park is world famous, it was of course crowded during the summer with traffic and parking somewhat problematic.  The shuttle that services the thousands of visitors is overly crowded as well.  Our tip – if you visit during the summer be sure to get into the park as early as possible every day.  Despite the crowds, the magnificent beauty of Yosemite is unsurpassed.

On this trip we camped at Yosemite Pines Campground in Groveland, which is about 30 minutes from the west gate.  Betsy had to be parked outside of the park due to her size.

A few of the many stunning vistas and natural beauty of Yosemite National Park, gem of the Eastern Sierra.

Yosemite Valley

Stunning Yosemite Valley

Hetch Hetchy

Controversial Hetch Hetchy, also known as the Little Yosemite

Half Dome at Glacier Point

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point

Top of Vernal Falls

Top of Vernal Falls, a few days later three visitors fell to their death as they climb behind the guard rail