A Hike Among Tall Trees

For the actual anniversary day, we had dinner reservations at the Ahwahnee Hotel down in the valley, so we decided on a few shorter hikes instead of a long one.

We picked two hikes from Day Hikes in Yosemite National Park. We found this book accurate and easy to use, and it greatly helped with planning.

The first hike led to the Suger Pine Grove. "The grove rests among a mixed forest with incense cedar, dogwood, black oak, and mazanita." says the guide, and the whole trail led through forest with many interesting plants to discover.

Many of the trees were covered with lichen, still green from late rains. I believe this is Wolf Lichen, Letharia vulpina. The Laws guide says "...contains vulpinic acid used in Eurpe to make a wolf poison, makes a strong yellow-green dye." I especially loved how it looked on the branches, with the sun shining on it, but one can only stop for photos so many times.

The forest floor was still abundant with flowers. Wild roses along the path looked at us with their shiny pink faces. I believe this is Rosa woodsii var. ultramontana (Interior Rose). The name actually translates as Ultra-Mountain Wood Rose, too bad about the common names sometimes.

We also found a few clumps of Iris hartwegii (Hartweg's Iris), though there were surely more a few weeks earlier.

And, in a few spots, a monardella, which I believe is Monardella odoratissima (Pennyroyal), shown here with one of the big pine cones.

In a sunnier spot, a wallflower, probably Erysimum capitatum ssp capitatum (Western wallflower), though the Laws guide shows a much redder color for it. But Calflora is a pretty good match.

We took a short break at the grove, but it was early still so we turned around and walked back to the parking lot that's the start point for both hikes. There, in the shade of trees, we sat on a picnic bench and had our customary lunch of trail mix and fruit, and then we marched on in the other direction to the Merced Grove of Giant Sequioas. Here's what the hiking guide says:"Yosemite has three giant sequoia groves. Mereced Grove is the smallest and least visited. It is a dense, natural forest uninterrupted by development. about twenty giant sequoias are scattered within a mixed forest of white fir, incense cedar, pnderosa pine, and sugar pine...This is not a crowded trail, offering the opportunity to enjoy a quiet and secluded tour of these magnificent trees."

We had seen the giant sequoias at the Mariposa grove before when we took a winter vacation there and walked to the grove in snow shoes. And we'd seen them with family, when Mariposa grove was crowded. So this hike offered a great opportunity. Most of the way to the grove is slightly downhill, so we made fast progress. Then, suddenly, as the trail took a turn to the left, I looked up and found myself in front of one of the great trees.

I backed up to take a photo, but they really defy photos and words. You have to be there and stare, and touch them.

There's a good summary on Wikipedia, which says:

"Giant Sequoias are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume (technically, only 7 living Giant Sequoia exceed the 42,500 cubic feet (1,200 m3) of the Lost Monarch Coast Redwood tree; see Largest trees). They grow to an average height of 50-85 m (165-280 ft) and 6-8 m (18-24 ft) in diameter. Record trees have been measured to be 94.8 m (311 ft) in height and 17 m (57 ft) in diameter."

I had just recently read The Wild Trees, a book about people who've climbed and researched the redwoods and other tall trees. And I just could not imagine those climbs.

Here's a tree with a person for comparison, and this is one of the small ones. The large ones are much bigger.

We had a water break leaning against the tree, small critters everywhere, and then walked back, with one last look at the tree.

P.S. I'm happy to report that the dinner was excellent, with better vegetarian selections than the last time we visited the Ahwahnee. And I was glad we'd walked a bit, so I could have the chocolate dessert.


Emily said…
I am inspired. Glad you had a good trip!
I've never seen lichen of this color! Thanks fot taking me on the hike!