We wanted to see the tallest, largest and oldest trees in the world, but had to settle for the just the largest. All three can be found in California, but distance and winter weather prevented us from the other two. In fact the snow almost prevented us from seeing the largest as well! Who would imagine that you could go from orchards to snowballs in less than an hour?
Our drive to find the largest tree in the world would take us from the Visalia valley at 330ft to over 7000ft. I’ve never been required to have snow chains for a vehicle in my entire life until California. It’s required by law! It was an hour detour and 3 stops before we could find the right size and head up to the trees. It felt like driving through the seasons until we finished in Winter. So much for escaping the snow!
Sequoia National Park is home to General Sherman, the largest tree among the sequoias and the largest tree on Earth. Now trees are taller, wider and older than General Sherman, but if you go on total mass, this tree is king! While the redwood Hyperion is about 100ft taller at 380ft, it only clocks in at about a third of the mass. The sequoia trees truly are monster trees with their girth and mass. It’s so easy to get dwarfed by their dimensions when you stand at the base and look up! To truly appreciate their proportions, you need to stand back with someone at the base to gain the true perspective of magnitude.
In school we teach about plants and animals, but it seems like kids are always more interested in the animals. They move funny, look weird, do things we can’t like fly and breathe underwater. Like the Lorax said “Who will speak for the trees?” I can’t wait to share this special visit with my students. Once you see this tree you can’t help but feel rekindled about the wonders of plants! This tree has a circumference of over 100ft, larger than most classrooms. It has a branch with a diameter that's greater than my height. In fact the sheer number of these giants was overwhelming. To walk among them was an awe inspiring feeling that won’t be forgotten for some time.