Photo Karma – The Wild Trees

I’m going to combine three whole categories into this post – photography, books and travels. So – first the photo:

Muir Woods 09/06/2007

Can you pick out the two people in the bottom left hand corner? Those are some serious trees. A good friend and I met these trees, and many others, on a trip to Berkeley to visit my brother before he graduated with his engineering degree. He was a gracious host and showed us about as much of the Bay area and Northern Califorina as humanly possible in the span of about 48 hours. This is a shot taken in Muir Woods, a side trip on the way to visit one of our favorite breweries. One day I may post pictures of that tour on another blog where I occasionally rant.

The Muir Woods visit was fascinating and I would have loved to spend longer if we had longer to spend. As it turns out, I was able to spend some vicarious time among even larger trees when I got around to reading Richard Preston’s The WIld Trees. What follows is a hearty recommendation to read this whenever you’re looking to learn something, be entertained and be generally amazed by what’s out there beyond the office walls.

I was a tree climber when I was young. I would climb the tall pines in our apartment complex and the neighbors would gasp. My mom, always the pragmatist, would shrug, responding dryly, “he’ll only fall once.” So to my delight, I opened the book and read about a semi-dropout college student (aren’t they all in California) parking his car in the brush, tromping through the woods and scaling a 70′ tree – a good 30 or 40 feet taller than I’d ever climbed. And then he jumps.

The jump was to a branch on a tree that was hundreds of feet tall. A tree that had branches as large as some of the taller trees in our forests on the east coast. This daredevil leap spawned a career, lasting friendships, at least one marriage and a fair bit of nerdery. 1 Not having the book in front of me, I won’t recount specific names, dates or quotes, but the book is a fascinating look at the characters involved and the science of the trees.

As it turns out, the trees I visited in Muir Woods are small potatoes. The real action is further north. The coast of the pacific northwest is home to the last of the North American rainforest and some truly magnificent trees. The Wild Trees is a story of human love and love of nature. It is even, to some extent, a tale of intrigue. To protect these trees from thrillseekers and well meaning but inept conservationists only a handful know where the tallest trees in the world are actually located. It’s amazing to read that there are still uncharted wonders in the world, and Preston does both his human and natural subjects justice.

1 The book’s heroes are unabashedly oddballs and nerds. As first climbers, tradition gave them the right to name each tree and the book is full of obscure names from Tolkien as a result.

One Response to “Photo Karma – The Wild Trees”

  1. M. D. Vaden Portland Tree Says:

    Read that book cover to cover twice. The only thing I missed in it were more tree photos. If interested, check my Portland based site for images of trees he wrote about. 2nd menu on the home page, look for the redwood tree tab. Leads to pages and albums on the subject.

    Cheers – MDV / Oregon

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