Once upon a time the redwood forest held its secrets close. Certain notorious trees were written about and studied but their exact locations were never openly discussed. In fact. not so long ago. if someone mentioned the location of Screaming Titans or Hyperion or the Atlas Grove, all hell would break loose. Accusations, threats, and finger pointing would follow with worrisome tree huggers and territorial academics all blasting the snitch, wondering what the hell was happening with this grove or that.
I’m not going to be the one to add to the rancor, but these days, if you know where to look (online that is), most of the forest’s secrets have been exposed. There are web sites that disclose not only the location of most of the redwood forest’s tallest and biggest but also include step-by-step instructions how to hike into and find these titans.
In the long run, the tall trees and once hard-to-find groves will suffer the added pressure of the masses. Which is a pity.
But until the secrets become common knowledge, there is still the exquisite solitude and solemnity that comes from BEING THERE. Of being IN the grove of titans.
There is one chunk of the redwood forest that is still wonderfully undiscovered and that’s the world of albino conifers.
I have a guest now who was on the receiving end of some tips…with that insight from a local he came upon one of the only 50 or so known albino redwood trees and brought back this picture.
According to our good friend Wikipedia, “An albino redwood is a redwood tree which is unable to produce chlorophyll, so has white needles instead of the normal green. To survive, it must join its roots to the roots of a normal redwood, usually the parent tree from whose base it has sprouted, from which it obtains nutrition as a parasite. Only about 60 examples are known. These can be found in both Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, with eight trees in the first. However, the exact locations are not publicized to protect the rare trees. They reach a maximum height of about 66 ft.”
The albino redwoods are rare, reclusive (recall, they do badly in sunlight), small, and prone to dying off (at best, they have good years and bad). Only a few are commonly known. To find the six or so that have been outed over the years, you need to do the research or have befriended a well-informed local.
I’m not going to go further except to encourage guests to get out among the trees now, before the masses descend, and before the Park Service (inevitably) builds raised trails, erects signage and prints brochures (not necessarily bad ideas, by the way). It is essential to tread lightly, to celebrate judiciously, and to limit ones exploring to the trails rather than via bushwhacking. Personally, I’m conflicted about visiting Hyperion this summer or tracking down the nearest albino redwood, even. I can’t tell if I’m going to abide by the limitations I currently impose on others.
For now, I’ll stick to the trail. Tomorrow? I can’t be sure.