It's been a lifelong dream of mine to see the giant coastal redwood trees with my own eyes. This fall, that dream came true. My partner in crime and I made our way down to northern California, where we learned that the area is collectively named the Redwood National & State Parks, since the the area is a patchwork of state park and national park lands. Due to the wildfires, we couldn't backpack in the parks like we wanted, but instead found a nice campsite right outside the park at the Florence Keller County Park & Campground.
The trees. THE TREES. Holy smokes, they did not disappoint.
The redwoods have always had a sort of folklore associated with them for me. Growing up, you saw pictures of them cut down during western expansion, with the lumberjacks looking like tiny action figures next to the massive trees. You saw pictures of trees so large that cars could drive through them (there's still a few standing to this day). But when you hear that a tree is over 300ft tall, you think 'oh that's pretty big,' but you really can't put it into perspective until you've been standing right next to it, the lowest branches 50ft above your head. Or until it takes you a solid 10 seconds to walk around the trunk. Or until you stand inside a chimney tree*, arms spread, and you're still about 6ft short of touching either side of the trunk.
I was awe-struck. I'm still awe-struck.
Those trees are special. The way the Tetons in Jackson Hole make you feel different - inspired, at peace - these trees have the same effect. Sitting on a log along one of the hiking trails, staring out over the slight downward slope, giant after giant standing tall in front of me, I'm hard pressed to find a time in my life when I've felt more calm, more present in the moment, more content with my life.
Maybe it's the fact that these are some of the tallest living organisms on earth, or the fact that they can be over 2,000 years old.
Whatever it is, it's magical, and I truly hope you get to experience the same sensations I did in the world's oldest groves.
*Chimney trees are those that have burned during wildfires with the core of the tree being hollowed out, while the thick bark still remains standing