I’ve never posted the story of how I found a secret, ancient Redwood grove last summer because though the adventure was epic, part of the lesson I learned was how easy it is for the smallest of footprints made in utmost of earnesty could harm the delicate and precious floor of the forest, especially one made up of trees whose root systems grows wide, rather than reaching down.
I just didn’t want to encourage anyone else to go there.
But now there is finally an effort to raise money to build boardwalks and open it to the public. My heart sings and I encourage you to support these honorable forest protectors, in turn making this utmost sacred grove open to all to experience it’s glory. Even if you can only give ten dollars, please, I beg of you, consider looking here. https://redwoodparksconservancy.org/save-grove-titans
Standing in the Grove of the Titans was heaven come to earth. It was like Lothlorien. It was majesty personified.
In my journey to find this magical place described in Richard Preston’s “Wild Trees”, I discovered that that it was not inaccessible to a middle aged woman with periodic knee issues. I didn’t believe at first that I would find it, which made me less attentive, so I spent a few days hiking in the wrong areas, on unrelated trails.
But I was possessed with the desire and call to go there, so I persisted, not knowing if my story might end with my body shutting me down.
I dreamt about it. I was empassioned. But I could not find the trail. Instead I used hints from previous travelers online and figured it would be a hidden trail. So I went off, over rotting logs, onto soft moss and at one point I stopped and with dread and regret, looking around me at the pristine land, knowing, seeing that every step I took left a mark. I thought “What have I done?” But I knew I was close and I was going to cause as much damage if I went back, so I continued forward.
Then crossing a small dry riverbed, I saw it. It is difficult to take in an Ancient Redwood because you cannot turn your head in any way to see the whole thing at once. Redwoods can grow to be over 300 feet tall so it’s like standing under skyscrapers of trees. Walls of trees. It’s impossible to eek out even a glimpse of the rare ecosystems that reside up in the cloud. Every tree is unique as a snowflake, or a human, each angle speaking, sharing a universe of spiritual mystery. It is an emotional experience, a humbling one at the very least. Each time I visit these forests, like any true pilgrimage, there is a long internal integration for me afterwards.
So there I was. I lavished. I listened. I revered.
But no. I had heard that there were trees that most people never saw because the grove was kind of spread out. So what did I do? I had to follow a trail, that went up a 30 degree slope up to.. no where. I almost killed myself. I made track marks on the hill. I was completely possessed. It was too steep to go back down so I had to bushwhack over to a fallen giant and walk down it, but there were bushes growing over and I had a small pack and there was a 25 foot drop and I really almost killed myself there.
I couldn’t stop myself from such tree crimes and I was the biggest, baddest, bad tourist from out of state with selfishness and destruction in my two footed path.
And then I found the proper path back to the main trail, where a sign was waiting for me, reminding me of the damage I had done. There should have been someone there with handcuffs to send me to tree jail.
I could barely walk anymore so when I got back to the road, I hitched a ride back to my car, at which time I found that I had lost my cell phone. Ugh. Arrghhh!!! It was…no where! No in my car, not in my pack.. I drove back to the trail head and barreled back up the trail even though my body had previously called it a day until it was getting dark and I had to go back.
The next morning, an older guy with a Harley at the campground let me use his phone to call my phone and I discovered that my phone was still on and ringing. Incredible, as most areas where out of signal reach. Some nice folks in an RV (those RV retirees are an interesting and likeable breed of their own) let me use their phone to learn all about the horrible iterations one must go through to cancel their account and get a new phone. aaa. Not ready yet.
I forced myself to get a burner phone from the one store where I have never purchased anything – the store that does so much damage to so many people, towns and ecosystems – Walmart.
Then the trials of getting the damned phone registered and running. And charged. I went back to the trail. The burner phone lost signal. I started playfully asking every creature I saw if they would help me find my phone. “Hey Mr. Frog! Hey Ravens! Hey! Can you help me find my phone?” I was desperate. I also believe in these sorts of things.
I had to go back to that bad place where I had gone off the trail and walk again in the area where I never wanted to walk again.. ahhh!!! I immediately found a food wrapper – you know the kind that you see in the woods and you think “who in the hell would litter in a place like this?” – that had fallen out of MY back pocket. My pocket! My pocket had a major hole in it! Going further, feeling like a complete idiot for being there at all, I knew this was senseless.
But a miracle happened. My eyes just fell on my hat, that I didn’t even know I had lost, and my phone, a few feet away. In the middle of NO WHERE. Where NO ONE would have EVER found it, in a million years. (well maybe 6 months now that I know what’s been going on) Wow.
It was over half-way to the trees, so I saw them again, travail over and was able to relax a bit. I actually saw them 3 times in a few days because one of the trees, my favorite was incredibly hidden only 50 feet off the main trail.
On my way to camp, I spent a significant amount of time trying to make the entrances from the main trail look hidden. Then I sent messages to the bloggers who have posted their clues, begging them to remove them. It was such turmoil, such embarrassment, such a jaw-dropping, awe-striking experience to be there. But I did return that useless burner phone back to Walmart.
And then it took me a good amount of time to digest the whole experience.
So I never told anyone. Well, I told my mom. And some close friends, but I didn’t tell them where or the name of the grove. These ancient ones are literally being loved to death.
But now there is a way to help them, so my heart sings with joy as I entreat you to join me in preserving this gem. This place on the planet like no other that can never be recovered in a thousand years. That is how old these trees very possible could be.
Even if you can only give ten dollars, please, I beg of you, consider looking here. https://redwoodparksconservancy.org/save-grove-titans
Much love to you and the trees.
2022 Update: The Grove of the Titans is now open to the public and the boardwalks are gorgeous they way they fade into the scenery! I can’t wait to go down and see them! https://www.nps.gov/redw/learn/news/gotboardwalk.htm
They do still need donations to cover the construction costs. That can be done here: https://redwoodparksconservancy.org/grove-titans