The Avenue of Giants

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Highway 101 in Northern Califrornia

September 23, 1998

Trivia: what is the largest living thing on Earth? Need a hint, well, how about it's often larger around and through than a Greyhound bus. Need more? It can grow taller then the Statue of Liberty. Sure, you named it, The giant or coastal redwood (sequoia sempervirens) The forests that make up these species contain more biomass per square foot than any other area on earth, and that includes the Amazonian rain forests. Although these giants can grow anywhere on earth with proper care, the really big ones are restricted to just a few hundred miles along the California and Oregon coast. I was surprised to find that it was the famous Pacific coast fog that provides the necessary water to allow these giants to exist at their enormous 300 plus foot size. The Coastal Redwoods thrive on and indeed require the heavy fogs that are normal daily occurrences along the coast. The moisture is actually absorbed into their needles at the tops of the tree where the circulation system of the tree can't pump to. The 50-60 degree average temperature of the area is another requirement for the tree size. The state park owes it existence to the organizers of the Save-the-Redwoods League. They could see that the magnificent redwood forests of this area would be lost within a few years unless something was done to save them. Their concern and foresight led to the creation of the League in 1918. In 1921, the League made its first purchase of redwoods that was to become the present state park. Since then, more than 100 Memorial Groves have been established within Humboldt Redwoods State Park with the help of League funds. This small piece of earth along the coast is as pristine as can be, while remaining wild at the same time. Caution should be taken while exploring along the many trails. The creatures tend to run quite large. Some normally small ones can appear quite a bit larger such as this 8 inch slug that slithered across our path as we worked our way down onto an agate beach. Then as we cut through a grove of large trees that completely blocked our view, we stumbled out into a small field filled with elk. We just stood still and after a few dreadful looks by the lead buck, things got back to normal and the grazing continued. We watched as the does moved off leaving the buck standing guard in a majestic poise on a small hill with the sun dropping behind him. It is these moments that keep us always on the move, looking for that perfect moment in that perfect place.

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