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Snapshot: News-Sentinel readers rate their vacations Enter into prehistoric times at Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold

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Posted: Friday, February 24, 2012 7:10 am

Who: Lap and Cecilia Wong; Tony, Sharon, Betty and Stephanie Lin, of Lodi; Philip Kong of Stockton; Lilian and Jessica Tam, of Alameda; and Anna Wong, of Scarborough.

The trip: Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Highlights: Three miles north of Arnold off Highway 4, located at the mid-elevation of the western Sierra Nevada, the Calaveras Big Trees State Park stands in quiet testimony to prehistoric times.

The North Grove Trail was discovered by Angustus T. Dowd in 1852, but it did not come under the protection of the California State Park System until 1931. Here, this sequoia Big Stump left us as a legacy to extol for its hefty 25-foot base that was planed smooth to serve as dance floor.  After the rings were counted, the tree was found to be 1,244 years old when it fell in 1883.

The 1.8 miles self-guided loop follows a paved walkway through 26 numbered points of interest along with the fragrant, primeval, redolent giants jutting toward the sky that provide cool, dark shade for a stroll.

Just name a few sites: The Empire State Tree is now with its base diameter over 30 feet while it reaches mystically into the mists. The Siamese Twins started life so close together and appear to be one tree. The Mother and Son Tree began life at about the same time. Mother has been grown very well, but the Son has been lost much of its top to wind and lightning. Relax on the reclining bench, and observe their difference in size.

The Father of the Forest crashed down to earth. Walk inside the tree, and see if you can figure out what caused it to be hollowed. People poke their heads through the holes where massive gnarled branches once grew, providing a favorite setting for pictures.

The huge blackened snag earned its title, “Mother of the Forest” or “Sacrificial Tree,” because the speculators removed 60 tons of its bark from the tree in 1854 and sent it to New York and then in London for exhibition. The tree lost all its resistance and charred in the fire of 1908.

The Pioneer Cabin Tree was chosen for its extremely wide base. A walking tunnel was cut through the tree in the 1880s as a piece of showmanship. This tree can no longer support the growth of a top; one solitary branch, bearing green foliage, indicates us that this tree is barely managing to survive.

Confidently, we have had personal cognizance of the giant sequoias that are the world’s largest living trees ever to exist on the earth and reproduce only by seed while the coast redwoods are the world’s tallest living trees and also can reproduce by sprouting from their roots, burls and stumps. Giant sequoias do not grow in pure stands as do the coast redwoods.  

In pursuit of nature’s incredible array of colors in abundance at different elevations, the Big Trees State Park, as expected, reflects the rhythms of native realm.

Unambiguously, we have been humbled to the core by these historic trees. If you go on life without seeing them, you’ve wasted a moment of admiration and praise.

Readers who submit Snapshots published in the Lodi Living section receive a free Lodi News-Sentinel tote bag. Entries should include a quick description of your vacation, a snapshot, your name, address and phone number. Snapshots run in the order they are received.

Snapshots may be dropped off at the Lodi News-Sentinel during regular business hours or sent to Lodi Living, Snapshots, 125 N. Church St., Lodi, CA 95240.



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