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Ambassadors From Another Time

Redwood National and State Parks, California

Ambassadors from another time. That's how John Steinbeck described California's giant, spectacular redwoods.

"From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

The tallest trees on earth, coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are not only mighty in size, but have exceptionally long lifespans - some to 2,000 years. It's amazing to comprehend that some of the trees along which you walk when visiting Redwood National and State Parks may have been just beginning to grow right around the same time Christ and the apostles walked the earth.

Appropriately, their botanical name means "ever-living."

Though logging destroyed many of them, some forward-thinking people in the 1920s set aside some of the ancient forests with the creation of three California state redwood parks. Later, in the 1960s, the federal government created Redwood National Park - encircling the state parks and thereby expanding the coastal setting.

Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) grow in many areas within the old growth forests. These aren't the rhodies you might have in your garden; instead, they're gangly and can be as tall as 26 feet. When they bloom in the spring, it's a perfect pairing: stately, massive redwoods surrounded at their bases by splashes of pink.

One of the features of the coastal climate, fog, not only helps the trees to thrive - it also is a wonderful element which enhances not just the mood in and among these giants, but also can make for interesting photographs.

I caught the redwoods during an exceptionally rainy few days last week. At times, the precipitation was so heavy I couldn't shoot. Even with a rain jacket for my camera, it was just coming down too hard. Still, on one afternoon I decided to keep hiking: partly to scout, and partly just to enjoy the trees. As it continued to rain, the fog kept building. Finally, as the afternoon was waning, the rain let up enough that I was able to work - and take advantage of the fantastic opaque shroud.

Though soggy, it was a truly magical day.

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