Don’t know what the rush was. The grizzly giants weren’t going anywhere. They’ve been standing there for at least two thousand years. But we felt the need to get an early start Tuesday morning. There was no one at the bell stand, but the young lady at front desk found someone to bring the car around. As we drove out of Yosemite Valley, we left behind the smoke and haze that settles in the valley with the wildfires blazing on the south side of the park. After driving a dozen or so miles uphill, we reached an elevation of around 7,000 feet. This is where the giant sequoias thrive. This is their home. They were seedlings when the Romans ruled the world in the year 70 AD. They were saplings when the Hagia Sophia was under construction in what was then Constantinople, but today we call Istanbul. They have stood silently as civilizations and generations of people have come and gone.
We left the car at the trailhead and made the hike to the grove. There we found the air clear and fresh. The only sound in the forest was the sweet morning melody of birdsong.
The Tuolumne Grove of Sequoias is one of only three stands of these ancient grizzly giants in Yosemite National Park. This grove was literally stumbled upon by a group of hunters following a wounded deer into the woods in the 1850s. In the 1870s, a couple of brothers carved a massive hole in a dead tree. They had photographs made of stagecoaches going through the tree and used these photos to advertise the grove, hoping to entice tourists. It may have been John Muir himself who nicknamed them grizzly giants. I think they are gentle giants.
No need to advertise the grove now. Let’s try to keep it a secret. There is nothing like the feeling of being alone with these grizzly giants. It’s so worth getting up early.
Here are some pictures of this beautiful place.