June 5, 2020

Big Old Trees

Yesterday, I took a ride up into the mountains south of here with a friend for a truly unique experience.  Our route took us straight west off of Highway 15 on a sometimes steep and one lane dirt road to the Browse Guard Station.  This little cabin was built in the early 1930’s for the purpose of hosting agricultural research and other related projects. It has not been used for many years, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Guard Station is a fascinating destination, but that is not the main reason that people make the drive up to this location.  Behind the cabin is a giant sequoia tree.   This tree was one of several planted in about 1932, and is the only one to survive.  That makes it almost 90 years old.
Giant sequoias are the most massive living organisms on the planet, and can live to between 1800 and 2700 years, so the one here is still a baby!  They are only found on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, so seeing this giant is a real treat.  My friend and I spent some time communing with it in the cool of its mountain habitat, in addition to hiking around the area looking at the many wildflowers that were in bloom. 

When I put my hands on the trunk of this gentle giant, I detected a strong core of energy going straight town into the earth.  I had to wonder if it was lonely because it was the only one of its kind here, being surrounded mainly by ponderosa pine trees.. 

A week before this, I went up into the mountains directly east of here to commune with a different kind of big old tree.  Off of Highway 14, a short trail has been created that leads to a stand of Great Basin Bristlecone Pines.  These are the longest lived organisms on planet earth, and can live to 4500 years or more.  They like dry windswept ridges where other trees do not thrive because of the harsh growing conditions.  Unlike the unique nature of our local sequoia, these pines are located in a few other areas in Utah, including Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Bryce National Park. 
A wooden platform has been built at the end of the trail so that one can also get up close and touch the gnarly tree trunks of these wonders.

I do not know the age of the bristlecone pines at this location, as the only way to tell that would be to cut one down and count the tree rings. Instead, one can sit on a bench here and connect with the energy of determination, longevity, and grace that these trees hold.  That is exactly what I did.  What a nice way to spend some time!  It was hard to leave to head back home, but since this is such an easy spot to get to, I can come back any time.

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