Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Trip to the Local Redwoods

A Trip to the Redwoods
Mosquito Ridge Road

As the season of low sun approaches, short journeys and small pleasures are the order. Those grand road trips miles and miles from home will need to wait until after the mountain snow ceases to fly; after the valley fog clears.

A little more than an hour east of Rocklin there’s a grove of redwoods. It’s a small grove of just around a dozen of Sequoia Gigantea: the one that isn’t the coastal variety. The walk from the parking area one-half mile off Tahoe Forest Road 93 (Mosquito Ridge Road – east of Foresthill; east of Oxbow Lake) provides a brief fifteen-minute loop. When no one else is around, it is a cathedral of near-perfect silence. The trail is maintained and by Mid-October, a summer of pedestrian travel has rendered its surface a fine dust that cushions and mutes the footfall.

Starting down the trail, one may be confused by the red cedars spotted here and there among the firs and pine of this forested glen. Red cedar bark always throws me when looking for redwoods. But a few yards further and there is no doubt. A cluster of three massive red-barked monsters looms above the forest floor. I know these ain’t cedars! The area madrona and red oak is dwarfed. As am I.

Further down the path, one of these behemoths has fallen. Long enough ago in history that its bark is gone and its exposed timber turned to silver. It rests flat among ferns and litter, and near its unearthed roots, the carcass proves nearly twice my six-foot-four-inch height. Had I been disposed to clamber atop and walk its distance, I would have found it to be perhaps sixty paces in length. Around the bend, its twin brother still stands.

For reasons left to the wisdom of Ma Nature only, there’s a pocket of microclimate tucked into this remote corner of the American River drainage precise enough to support thirteen or fourteen of these impressive individuals.

In an era of instant this and instant that, to look skyward over two hundred feet and to contemplate the time and gentle energy that went into this production gave at me wonderful pause. This was a small pleasure I hadn’t expected on a short-ride: Tall ancient redwoods, rooted on earth but reaching toward heaven to tickle God’s underbelly – just for my personal enjoyment this day.

© 2008
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. No kidding! I'll have to see those for myself. I love Redwoods and Sequoias. Nice writing.