This week, I celebrated 10 years of working on behalf of the coast redwood forest and had the pleasure of climbing into an old redwood at the Grove of Old Trees in Sonoma County (on a ridge between the towns of Bodega and Occidental). This little-known forest is where I learned to climb in 2004 and where I still work today to track the response of sword fern to drought through Fern Watch.
I saw the summertime countryside of Sonoma County from the treetops. I also saw up close and personal how the years have shaped the old redwood I climbed. Magnificent reiterations (secondary trunks near the treetop) were fused with branches that crossed their paths to help make the redwood’s crown more stable in the wind.
A fungal disease is causing the bark to peel off the redwoods and the trees are oozing reddish-orange sap in response. While I need a tree pathologist to help identify the disease, I suspect redwood canker. This is a disease that attacks stressed trees and certainly the last few years of drought have posed a challenge.
I don’t if I’ll climb in this special forest again, so I took every second to notice how the trees sway in the breeze and how the ferns on the forest floor look from hundreds of feet above. I love the Grove of Old Trees and am so incredibly grateful to have its acquaintance.