Giant Trees

On a recent trip to New York City, the boys and I wandered through the American Museum of Natural History, inspecting the dinosaurs on the fourth floor, the Hayden planetarium over on the other side of the building, and a few of the points in between. One of the sights I found most interesting was the huge cross section of a giant old sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in their “ecosystem” section:

The Mark Twain cross section at the AMNH. Photo by Matthew G. Bisanz from Wikimedia commons.

Unfortunately, because I don’t know how to manage my iPhone storage, I was unable to take a picture myself (hooray, 16GB of “storage”!), so I had to use the one above from Wikipedia. It doesn’t really have the impact that the huge piece of wood had on me.

Here’s an image from a National Geographic archive that really gets across the idea of how big this thing is:

Loggers with the freshly felled Mark Twain tree, 1892.

I was so impressed by this piece of wood that when it came time to plan our annual pilgrimage to California, we decided to visit the much-more-crowded southern Sierra instead of the eastern side, where we normally go.

For the past several years, we’ve been going to the park at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Those trees, growing at 10,000+ feet of elevation, are much smaller than the giant sequoias but also much older. Some of them are over 5,000 years old. But they don’t make as much of an impression on the younger crowd as they do on me. So this year, it’s time to visit the real giants.

And when we do, we won’t forget to walk the Big Stump Trail!

Interesting note about the wood of these giant trees: at the same time, it’s soft, brittle, and highly resistant to rot.