Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

David and Goliath: California Redwood Trees of Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve

California Redwood (Cupressaceae: Sequoia sempervirens)

Alternative common name : Kaliforniese rooihout (Afrikaans)


We dream for the day to experience a true giant of nature.  Until that day, we will find the giants of our surroundings.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Time well spent amongst the Champion Californian Redwood Trees)


 We imagined ourselves standing at the foot of what is known as the tallest living tree. These colossal giants of North America have reached unimaginable heights. It is no wonder that the tallest of all is named "Stratosphere Giant". Weighing in at a staggering 368,6 feet high, this is a true champion in the Humbold State Park in California. The Big Tree Hunters have recorded more than 26 Redwood trees over 360 feet high. The evergreen Redwood forests are regarded as the most impressive in America, and the Coastal Redwood trees the most magnificent conifers. 



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Largest Living Trees in the world, Redwood Tree (Giant Sequoia)

There is no way that such a large tree can be captured in any one single photograph.  Here you can appreciate just what was needed to be done to make it happen in the video below.


These were extensive forests covering more than 500 miles, but these forests have all vanished due to the high demand for lumber. A paltry 3% of the original forest has been granted protection in state parks and one National Park. 



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(The Champion of Champions and it's official)


Some two hundred miles to the east in the Sierras, one will discover another kind of Redwood(Sequoiadendron giganteum); these trees are not as tall as their Californian cousins. What they lack in height, they make up for it in sheer volume and weight. The two main rivals are the "General Sherman", found in the Sequoia National Park in California. To the north the giant of Kings Canyon National Park, "General Grant".



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(size does matter, 2000 year Californian Redwood trees)


After accurate measurements and careful evaluations, the "General Sherman" tree was declared the undisputed champion. We will cross the Atlantic one day and visit these 2000-year-old beasts and pay our respects. Visiting these Santuaries to admire and reflect on these iconic trees will allow us to decide who are the real Champions.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Breathtaking views of the Langerberg Mountains and the Duiwenhoks River Valley)



For now, we have resigned ourselves to record our South African Campion Redwood Groves. As the demand for quality Lumber in South Africa grew, indigenous trees could not sustain and regrow quick enough; eventually, the forest was all but gone. Experimentation with exotic trees began, eucalyptus, pines and of course, Californian Redwood trees.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(As straight as arrows, they dominated the scene)


These stands we planted on the slopes of Table Mountain, Grootvadersbosch near Swellendam, Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, and Misty Grove, Magoebaskloos in Limpopo. The grove in Grootvadersbosch caught our attention, and soon we would be standing underneath one of these majestic Redwood Trees.




Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Heads in the clouds, almost impossible to get the complete tree in the frame)



Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve is situated in the Langeberg Mountains near Swellendam in the Western Cape, comprising 250ha of natural forest. This indigenous forest is significant and most precious in the Langeberg; hence it was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015. This area now forms part of the extension of the Cape Floral Kingdom Protected Area World Heritage Site.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Main Entrance to the Grootvaderbosch Nature Reserve)


This sanctuary was created to preserve one of the last remaining indigenous forests in the Western Cape. The Californian Redwood trees share the same protection from the chainsaws, thanks to their Champion Tree Status. 



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Dence indigenous forest, back roads on route to the self-catering cabins)


We visited in April 2021, hoping to capture images that would portray these iconic trees in our Afromontane forest. The grove was situated deep in the woods, and we had a one-hour hike to the point where they were marked on the map. As we made our way through the forest, admiring the lush greenery and streams along the way, nothing could have prepared us for the spectacle that was ahead.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Like Ghosts, they appeared, they took our breath away) 



Do you want to visit these trees? 
Below is the PINNED LOCATION for your convenience.





With their heads in the clouds, they exploded out of the forest. It was impossible to capture the complete architecture. More than 100 strong, how they dominated the forest towering more than 66m high(198 feet), straight as arrows, like ballerinas they, were in perfect step.



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Hard at work looking for the right angle)


Time seemed irrelevant as we surveyed the American conifers, recording the scene as we moved through the forest. 



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Bridge over the Duiwenhoks River, lush green forest smells and sounds, our happy place)


While mesmerised by the sheer scale of these ancient trees, the eery, dark, moody lyrics of The Cure (A Forest) played in my mind.


"Come closer and see, see into the trees.

Find the girl, while you can

Come closer and see, see into the dark

Just follow your eyes, I hear her voice calling my name

The sound is deep. I hear her voice and start to run

into the trees, suddenly I stop, but I know its too late

I'm lost in a forest, all alone, the girl was never there

It's always the same, I'm running towards nothing

Again and again" (Robert Smith)



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(As we moved through the forest, we listened to the chorus of bird song)


This was an unforgettable experience connecting with these forest legends,  motivated by the prospect of visiting the Goliaths of North America, and fortunately, they will not be going anywhere soon. 

 


Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(Captivated by the sheer beauty, mountains, forests, and the magical sounds of the wilderness)



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(A show of force, towering over the indigenous forest trees)



Champion Tree, Californian Redwood Trees, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, Cape Nature, Hiking, Birding, Mountain Biking
(So many walking trails not completed, just as many mountain biking routes too explore)


No comments:

Post a Comment