Whenever there’s a gathering of people I can’t help but hear a tree story or two—so, some time ago when I had an open house I asked a good friend who happens to be a court reporter, if she would mind documenting the stories. She graciously agreed. Enjoy!
JOHN’S TREE STORY
Everyone’s got a lot of tree memories. I don’t know if any one in particular is compelling as a story. When you asked me about it, though, I was thinking about a trip that I took recently to northern California. My brother lives there. And I have gone up and visited him. He lives in wine country, but not too far from the redwoods, redwood forest in northern California. So two years ago I went up there in November and visited with my brother and his family, and then went north to what then they call the Lost Coast of northern California. It’s really remote, beautiful hiking area.
On the way up in Humboldt County I had heard about this redwood forest called Montgomery Woods. Montgomery Woods supposedly has the largest tree, might be the largest tree in the world. It’s billed as the largest tree in North America. It’s a redwood. And they don’t identify the tree. They don’t tell you which tree it is. They say the largest tree is in Montgomery Woods someplace. So I thought, well, I’m hiking up towards north of, towards the Lost Coast. I would look for the biggest tree in the world. And I hike in and, you know, there’s a little parking lot and a little — also a little ranger station there. There was nobody there. It was in October, way past the tourist season. I was there by myself essentially I walked in. There was a little gravel trail, looking at these trees, and I decided just get off the trail because the biggest tree in the world is probably off the trail someplace, off the beaten path. So I hiked through. It’s not that big. The park is not that big. But I got completely disoriented and lost. And all of a sudden I was in this glade of redwood trees—a redwood forest. If you’ve ever been in a redwood forest, because the light doesn’t penetrate to the forest floor, there’s no undergrowth. It’s just like ferns, and it’s dark and cool, even on a sunny day. Or a hot day, it’s dark and cool in there. And it gave me a sense of — Oh, it’s difficult to explain, but it’s a sense of, an awesome sense of holiness. You know, a sense of — that this place was a connection to something sacred about the earth; that it inspired in me a sense of respect for nature and a connection to it that I rarely experience because I live in the city.
So I’m hiking along. And all of a sudden I came to this tree. And I thought that’s it. That’s the biggest tree in the world. It has to be. I have never seen anything more massive or huge. Then I start walking another couple of hundred yards. Oh, my God. There’s another tree. It’s 40 percent bigger than the one I just saw. I hiked another couple hundred yards. And there is another tree. So I don’t know if I ever saw the biggest tree in the world, but I saw some massive, massive trees that were just absolutely awe inspiring, and, as I said inspired in me a real sense of connection with the earth and respect for the earth, particularly over long periods of time. These trees are, you know, hundreds, possibly thousands of years old. And the things that those trees, you know, that portions of our history that these trees have come and gone and they just kind of endured all that and continue to grow and endure forest fires while, you know, our mayors and presidents come and go with their petty squabbles. And all their, you know, insignificant things these trees and the earth endures. So that’s my tree story.
Contributed by John MacDonald