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One of the Biggest Living Things on Earth Calls Yosemite Home

March 20, 2014 at 1:37 PM | by | ()

Our Assistant Editor Will McGough hiked amongst the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Below, he describes his experience.

As I was walking through Mariposa Grove and seeing the sequoia trees for the first time up close and personal, I was having trouble envisioning any amount of words that would do them justice and describe them appropriately. It split me down the middle. For a traveler, it's a hell of a feeling. For a writer, it's just hell.

Along with its cousin, the more slender and usually taller Coast Redwood, the giant sequoia tree is one of the largest living things on earth with a height up to 250 feet and a 25-foot diameter. About 500 of them call Mariposa Grove home, one of only 75 groves in which they are found today (all of them are in California). The oldest trees are approaching 3,000 years old, meaning they were saplings well before the fall of the Roman empire in the late fifth century and seedlings at a time when the world's population was only 50 million in 1000 BC. That's incredible.

To bring those numbers to life, you really need to look at the photos. In the shot below, yours truly is standing in front of a fallen tree. I am 6'2", and not only can you see it towering over me, you can get a sense of its incredible girth. The other shots in the gallery show my size in comparison to a few additional trees. I just kept repeating to myself, "I can't believe how big these trees are." And every time I turned a corner, another would come into my vision, my head immediately tilting back to try to take it all in.

The pictures provide perspective, yet none will prepare you for a walk beneath and amongst these giant trees. In this sense, a good comparison would be the Grand Canyon. You can see as many photos as you want, but as soon as you see it in person, you begin to realize what a word-stuck writer like me was talking about.

Mariposa Grove is located at the southeast entrance to Yosemite National Park. During the summer months, there is a tram that will take you through the grove should you not be able to walk long distances. On foot, the bulk of the trees are within a 1-2 mile walk of the visitor center, many within the first mile. If it snows, the road into Mariposa Grove closes, so be prepared to put on snow shoes and hike in if you go during the winter months.

[Photos: Will McGough]

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