Posts Tagged With: Calaveras Big Trees State Park


This recent family reunion was special to me since I met my second to youngest brother’s daughter and her family for the first time. (My brother died unexpectedly at age 50 in 2005.) They drove here from Colorado, where they’ve recently moved.   They lived most of their lives in Nome, Alaska. These are my brother’s grandchildren aged 10, 7 and 5, who  don’t like candy, and refuse most  sweets. They are unfamiliar with foods like artichokes, avocados; had never tasted  lemons and limes.  They ask if the fruit they are eating is a peach or an apricot. They had never eaten cherries and were amazed to find out that they are not all red as they are pictured in books. Insects we find normal everyday nuisances amaze them. In Nome they mostly hunt and fish and augment their diet from “The Safeway”.   They are staying with me until the 27th of July and I’ve been showing them around the Motherlode.

Our first stop was Calaveras Big Trees State Park. A huge pine tree had fallen through the kiosk and they were doing business outside under a canopy while the kiosk is under repair.  (A photo of a photo)  The incident happened about six weeks ago. Before we went,  I teased the kids and asked them to trace in the dirt the circumference of the biggest tree they had ever seen.

Their parents were as stunned to see the trees as the kids were who didn’t know what to expect.

The giants never fail to awe. They are sequoia giganteum and are the biggest trees on earth though not the tallest.  Sequoia sempirvirens, the “coast redwood”  grows a bit slimmer and taller.

Trying to count the rings would take all day, but the kids did learn that the biggest stump in the grove is over 1,200  years old. A hunter in the 1800’s discovered the big trees and went back to his camp and described them to the rest of the logging crew cutting timbers for the mines. They laughed at him and thought he was telling stories. He couldn’t get them to come out and see for themselves. So the next day of hunting, he came back to camp and said he killed a huge bear and needed help to haul it in.  When they got up a  couple of horses to carry the bear, they were introduced to the big trees and felt the same kind of awe we all do on a first visit.

They never fail to amaze and I’ve seen them many, many times.

To be able to walk through the hollowed core of a big tree is a pretty trippy experience.

After walking the grove, we drove down to the river picnic grounds and ate our lunch and went swimming. The way the kids described it was, “This is the best water I’ve ever seen.”  All enjoyed the great beauty of the park.

And, they are so right. Great beauty just fifteen miles from where I live. I’m glad to have visitors to inspire me to enjoy these massive giants that were here before Christ, and were alive when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Nome you may or may not know is quite flat,  drab and featureless until the snows fall.  Where they live in Colorado is also quite flat and desert-like, although driving through the state in the mountains, is to experience grand forests and scenic views. They have much to see and learn about this great country, as I do.  It’s why I travel.

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Not everyone has a Jan Stewart in their life. Lucky me that my neighbor is a gold aficionado and loves to take people out digging for gold. My crew had a taste of panning at Columbia Park and decided they’d like to try the real thing.

We toured an old hard rock mine. Then we dug dirt from an old dry creek bed and hauled it to Murphys Creek were we washed the dirt for nuggets.

We got small nuggets but tossed the many gold flakes since we didn’t figure to sell our gold anyway. It was fun. Even so, my guests learned what the old timer’s learned long ago. Finding gold, digging and panning, is hard work. No one regretted the experience, even if the temperature reached 97.
Earlier in the day, we visited Big Trees State Park. A phenomenal, not to be missed, experience for anybody who visits Calaveras County.
This tree is the Old Bachelor, one of my favorites.
Marie and Bernice stood in the root hollow of this fallen giant. You hear about them, you see pictures of them, but to actually stand beside the giants is an awesome experience. To be a sightseer in Calaveras County is as valuable as our gold

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