What brings people to the redwoods is varied. It might be a birthday or anniversary trip. It might be a honeymoon. It might be part of a larger itinerary or it might be the realization of a lifelong dream to see the planet’s tallest living things. As for reasons, well, everybody’s got one.
Some people arrive with one agenda and while they’re here develop another (and sometimes another and another). I think Jimmy was among this group. He didn’t show up with a dog-eared copy of The Wild Trees but when he started reading my copy of Trees on his first night at the bnb, man, was he smitten!
But the Grove of Titans isn’t for everyone. To us locals the Grove is much more than a spot on the map identified with a giant X. Heck yes it’s worth visiting but we don’t broadcast its exact location. For a bunch of reasons, and by design, the location of the Grove remains a mystery. The trees of the Grove — El Viejo, the Del Norte, Screaming Titans, Chesty Puller, Lost Monarch — rise in a quietude that befits them. True, their siren call is heard by many, but the mist that keep their secret safe is too dense, until those who see through it come a wandering. That would be Jimmy and crew.
Among the four in his group, Jimmy was the quiet one. But when conversation turned to the Grove he perked up. I said little, and talked up the trails most people gravitate toward. Everyone knows if you are here to walk Stout Grove and the Boy Scout Tree trail you haven’t come to see the Titans. In fact, those are the trails you walk because you can’t figure out or don’t care to figure out where the Titans are. And that’s alright. There are plenty of tall, complicated and fantastical trees to see without stumbling on to the Grove. But Jimmy had other plans.
I heard from Judy, in Jimmy’s group, that he’d gone to the web after leafing through my copy of Wild Trees and sifted through all manner of banter online (mine included, probably) that discusses the Grove. Recall now that no site reveals the Grove’s location.
And yet the evidence speaks for itself. Yup, Jimmy found the Grove on his first attempt. Judy told me their surprise and awe was so pronounced they lowered their voices so no one would be inclined to follow them and spoil the experience — or blow the Grove’s secret location (not that the Grove is within earshot of the rank-and-file hiker…it’s not).
I don’t wish the Grove on anyone — I continue to play by the locals’ rules — but if I did I’d have wished the Grove on Jimmy.
[the photo above is Jimmy at the base of Screaming Titans, yesterday, in the Grove of Titans]