Finally! We were where we wanted to be and wandered among the redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants, Miranda Redwood Park, Humboldt Redwood State Park and so many other stops that I couldn't keep up taking notes. We stopped at about Fish Creek Road for lunch, photos and painting.
The redwood branches were glowing in the early afternoon sunlight, fingers of golden rays falling on the leaves and vines in the trees.
We visited Lady Bird Johnson Grove at Redwood National Park and took even more macro photos than of the big, tall trees themselves. I wasn't expecting the vegetation to be so lush! We were charmed by all the ferns and sorrel (clover) that blanketed the forest floor, lush and thick, and the Rhododendrons.
Comparison of redwoods and sequoias, from the Redwood National and State Parks (National Park Service) and Visit Sequoia / Sequoia National Park websites:
Giant redwood trees grow naturally only along a narrow belt (a few hundred miles) on the Northern California coastline. They thrive in a moist, humid climate, and the near-daily coastal fog provides them with exactly the kind of conditions they need to grow. The fog adds moisture to the soil and lowers their rate of evaporation as well.
Giant sequoias live at a much higher altitude. They grow naturally only along the western slope of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, mostly between a 5,000 and 7,000 foot elevation level. While the temperatures in Sequoia National Park are fairly mild year-round, sequoias need a period of dry heat for their cones to open and release their seeds.
Giant redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world, reaching heights of up to 378 feet tall. Their base can be up to 22 feet in diameter and they can weigh up to 1.6 million pounds. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.
Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires.
Giant sequoias, on the other hand, don't grow quite as tall but can still reach a very impressive height of up to 311 feet (that's still the size of a 31 story building!). While not the tallest, giant sequoias are the largest trees in the world (ie – in volume). Their base can be up to 40 feet in diameter and a mature tree can weigh as much as 2.7 million pounds.
Finally, finally, we were able to bask in the dappled sunlight under the redwoods, the other bookend to our summer of the BIG trees.