Sequoia Gigantea

September 2015

About a bear

This is a short story about our encounter with a bear in the Sequoia National Park, few minutes after we had set up our tent. It was a cute chubby cub with round starry eyes and ears, trying to welcome us in his bearly manner and also trying his luck at the bear-resistant box that was filled with delicatessen. We loved it instantly. We were more worried about the mama bear, who would have probably been less pleased to meet us. After a long crossed stare the length of the tent, the cub decided to flee, but anxiety started to fill our minds. It was already night, we both were weary, but the thought of bears roaming around wouldn’t let sleep come easily.

We were saved from our angst and misery by two wonderful folks who put up their tent right near us and who invited us to join them for dinner, near their camp fire. Ashley and Merritt, two Burners coming freshly from Burning Man, told us about their tour, their home in Montana and future move to Seattle. It was the best way to keep our minds away from the bear issue. Merritt comforted us by saying that black bears were less territorial than grizzly bears, and that the Sequoia Park was only inhabited by black bears. This made enough sense to us.

Then we went back to our tents. It was raining. It was cold. Around 3 or 4 A.M. we felt quite a reek, but we didn’t want to know which was the source: the baby bear or the mama bear? Luckily, we weren’t of any interest for the bear either. So we spent the rest of the night wrapped in our coats and summer sleeping bags (what a bad idea, I should have brought with me the 0º comfort Millet), thinking about the bears, the redwoods and their illustrious General, the rain and the smell of wet soil, the Burners and all the great adventures that were still waiting for us in California.

Redwood greatness

Let aside the bear issue, the Sequoia National Park is a temple of nature and time. I was delighted by Steinbeck's description:

"The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. 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. They have the mystery of ferns that disappeared a million years ago into the coal of the carboniferous era. They carry their own light and shade. The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect. Respect–that's the word."

Hi there, General!

General Sherman is neither the tallest nor the oldest tree in the world. It's just the largest tree alive by volume.

Twins for eternity

Break out the tree, little creature

Bye, Sequoia!

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