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The Thuja plicata of Quinault Lake, Washington State
It is with the specialist in the large trees of the State of Washington that I was gone to visit the Thuja plicata of Quinault Lake.
Bob Van Pelt travelled the State up and down provided with his laser which not only enables him to measure the large Douglas fir and the large red Cedars, but also to reconstitute all architecture of them, until the orientation and the establishment of each branch of the tree. Bob has just published a book with superb drawings of the highest American trees of the West.
This venerable Thuja plicata of almost two thousand years, htelargest of his species in the world, measures approximately twenty meters of turn of trunk for sixty meters height. It is hollow and we can observe his interior, which is rare.
It is more in the south, in the Portland area (Oregon), that I could to photograph the Walnut tree of Sauvie Island (Juglans indsii) the largest of his species of the United States with its seven meters of turn.
As well as the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), called " Octopus " because of several trunks on the basis of its base. My friend Gary Braasch, photographer specialized in the environment (climate change), also showed me a splendid Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) and also The Klootchy Creek, the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) undoubtedly the largest of his species in the United States. In order to protect its roots, we surrounded it by a boardwalk which prevents to photograph it suitably. It is the fourth more significant Sitka Spruce in the world.
After that, I came backto Grand-Pass, in Oregon to find there an arborist, Michaël Oxman, with who I kept contact by email. As what Internet makes it possible to make new contacts and of going further. We remained in a Tree House, the home of his friends Mike Garnier. It was a good experiment to sleep in a tree. Then we went in Jedediah Forest to admire beautiful Sequoias sempervirens and on the return, we stopped at Tom Ness' house who builds Tree Boats. They are kinds of hammocks in canvas which stick between the branches of the trees. It is very fascinating and I would buy one of them very soon. The arborists of the whole world are very fond of delicacies.
California and her Venerable trees
The temperate rain forests, always they, of the American West coast, today are still devastated by the enormous forest companies which have great extents of them. The cuts carried out for more than one hundred fifty years in these coastal environment have generated landslides, erosions and makes disappear any life from the forest.
In front of this disaster, the Nature' lovers of the north of the State try actively and by all the means of saving the forests and in particular their large Sequoias.
It was to this goal that Julia Hill Butterfly had settled in top of a superb Sequoia sempervirens, called Luna and undoubtedly thousand years old, overhanging the valley where is located the exploitation and the factory of Pacific Lumber Company, the largest forest company. Julia remained in this tree from December 10, 1997 until the end of 1999, without never going down from her tree. It was very courageous because she was continuously attacked by the helicopters of the foresters who tried to intimidate her. Since then the Sequoia of Julia was seriously damaged without to know by whom: a chainsaw was used to cut all the turn of the trunk until reaching the cambium. In spite of the multiple cares to him were lavished, it has few chances to survive.
It as should be known as the Humans right are ridiculed and that young activists are regularly tortured by the police. When they express peacefully and are connected around the trees, of the bulldozers, but also in the offices of the forest companies, the police officers use chemicals, like the PEPPER SPRAY, which is injected into the eyes of the activists. Other activists are still installed in the giant trees of the forests of Oregon but few journalists speak about them. Do not forget that they are young people who try to save Planet, which was polluted by the Man. So what do we do? Will we leave the malicious ones and their monstrous machines to massacre these beautiful ecosystems, or finally will we act?
The Del Norte Titan Sequoia, California:
I adopted the technique of the footlock to try to photograph Del Norte Titan, a Sequoia sempervirens of twenty one meters of turn and ninety meters high. It undoubtedly lives since more than one thousand five hundred years in this forest, but it is not really protected because its ground is very fragile. Unfortunately the weather was too rainy and I could not take this from top to bottom photograph. To climb on a neighbouring tree is the only solution to see the crown of the Sequoias without deformation.
It is during this stay in California that I discovered a Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) of approximately three hundred years which, only on the hillock of field, contemplated the valley.
The wood of these maples is used for plating, furniture, and the Indians used it for their paddles.
The largest Californian Laurel-tree (Umbelluleria californica) which I know, a superb specimen, lives close to Salmon Creek since centuries. It is Cynthia Elkins and Paul Mason of the NGO " EPIC " which me made it discover. I would always remember this moment there. Ready to do anything, well wraped up, we arrived in top of a pretty valley in the cold and the fog. While going, mist on my glasses, it was difficult to see too far, but Paul Mason and Cynthia showed me beautiful oaks and Laurels, but to arrive at the old Laurel, we walked half an hour. But there, I was in extase in front of this wise, living here since centuries, and covered with green mosses. It is indeed the largest Californian Laurel-tree which I saw, which splendour. Under foliage, we felt the characteristic odor of its persistent leaves. It is necessary to have a great attention there and especially not to directly inhale the strong scent of the leaves; when we crush it in the hand, that goes up directly into the brain.
Installing my photographic room, while trying to keep it dry, which was impossible, I began my photographs, then finally Cynthia climbed in the tree. It was one exceptional moment. Cynthia proposed to me to go to see other trees. We were already entirely wet, but I accepted with joy. We have climbed some rocks, to pass in ravines, to admire beautiful ecosystems. The fog, the cold and the rain did not prevent us from advancing, supplanting all the limits. Lastly, Cynthia showed me her favorite place, surrounded by Arbutus tree. Its wet wood was shiny, red, orange, brown and their forms so strange, ghostly, mysterious. I was so happy, to be there, to contemplate Cynthia in this environment. To see young activists wishing of deepest of their heart, to protect their nature and to transmit their love to the others.
The giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
The forests of Giant sequoias have several million years. Their origin would go back at the Ice Age when they lived in Alaska. There was then a primary forest which extended through Asia, Europe and North America. Currently, some Sequoiadendron giganteum and sempervirens of California and the few enclaves of bald Cypress (Taxus distichum) and Metasequoias glyptostroboides of China are the only vestiges of this last world. Wood fossils, cones and pollens highlighted the presence of pines and Sequoias coexisting together since hundred million years. James Basinger of the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) discovered on the Princess Margaret' Island the most remarkable deposit of fossil plants in the world. Preserved very well these deposits which would have forty million years made it possible to reconstitute the landscape of these ancestral forests.
It is with Katherine, the daughter of Hilary and Gary Kimber, arborists, that we went in the National Sequoia Park, where grow since one thousand seven hundred years, the Sequoia Sherman (Sequoiadendron giganteum) , an universally known giant and who owes his origin - isn't this unimaginable? - to a small seed fifty-eight billion times smaller than him. Kathy and me were in admiration in front of this giant emaciated by time.
For the General Grant (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Wayne, a friend of Kimber' familly, drove me there and we spent a good moment by photographing all these splendid trees under snow.
This meeting was done under snow and gave place to beautiful photographs. If snow adds to the charm of the landscape, it is however a vital element for the Sequoias: their roots and their needles store it and can thus compensate for the arid climate of the summer. If hte snow does not fall anymore into these mountains, in fact the giant Sequoias will be in dangers.
Before leaving the forest of the giant Sequoias, a walker indicated to Katia and me a horde of deers at a few minutes. Then we went there, and Oh! surprised and joy! A score of them were quite present. Katherine and me, we approached without too much making noise (they were not worried any), and I which been able to make a dream: to join together a doe at the foot of a Giant sequoia. Thank you to all of you animals, spirits of the forests and especially an immense thank you to my friend Katherine Kimber and her familly.
It is also by a day of snow, and with Katherine, whom we were going to see the Grizzly Giant in Yosemite National Park, in Mariposa Grove. To reach Grizzly, it is necessary to walk a good hour in the forest; We were surrounded there by giants when suddenly emerges the most majestic of them, true king of this forest with its sixty four meters in height and his twenty-five meters of turn. It would have more than two thousand seven hundred years. While I photographed these splendid trees with formidable friends, Torrey Young, another Californian arborist organized new contacts for me as well as a slide show - dinner, so that I present my photographs and project exhibition in life-size at the arborists of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and of the CAA (Californian Arboricultural Association). As they knew that I wanted to photograph the Bristlecone Pine and the Bennett Juniper of Sonora, all culminating at more than three thousand meters of altitude, they did everything to help me.
Therefore my friend Philip Berolzheimer (that I had met in Georgia), proposed his private plane to me. And not, it is not a joke, inAmerica everyhing can arrive. Stockton - Bishop in 1h! More quickly it is not possible or then on the back of a golden eagle. Which are so beautiful these immense mountains under snow; I was fascinated by these landscapes, since the plane, it was unreal, like a movie in several dimensions.
In Bishop, David Trydhal of White Mountains Research Station, awaited me to go to see these Bristlecone in snow-mobile.
The Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva), of the White Mountains ofCalifornia:
These trees are among the oldest vegetal species of the Earth. Perhaps hundred million years ago, the pines of North America growed in extents which the Bering Sea occupies now. When the climate changed, these communities of plants moved towards the south, acclimatizing themselves geologically and climatically to the changes met along their tour. In these imposing and arid white mountains of the east of California, at an altitude of more than three thousand meters (ten to two thousand feets) and in a vivifying light, some survived more than forty centuries, exceeding in age the Giant sequoias.
These fabulous trees are satisfied with a very poor and rocky ground with a minimum of moisture and a short season of growth, and these are curiously the inhospitable conditions which allowed their longevity. As they grow very slowly - their circumference increases only one inch (approximately two centimetres and half) per century - they produce a very resinous wood of high density, resistant to rotting and the diseases.
The needles, they, can live from twenty to thirty years, being thus added to the new foliage. These needles of long life provide a stable photosynthesis which helps the tree to support various severe stresses met during these long years. Another strategy to survive is the gradual deadwood of the bark and the reduction of the tissus which lead water (xylem) when the tree is damaged by fire, the lightning, the dryness or the storms.
The crown then having to compensate with nutritive elements equalizes the effect of the undergone damage. The parts which survived remain in good health. The tenacity of Bristlecone (Pinus longaeva) is remarkable.
During so much of centuries the Pines of Bristlecone (Pinus Longaeva) fought the natural elements to become these astonishing sculptures, alive or died, oeuvres d'art in a rough state, deploying their harmonious forms, which evoke sometimes fantastic animal silhouettes. As for those whose death perhaps goes back to thousands of years, time will have lent to them ghostly paces, their skeletons remaining on foot, polished by the winds of sand, snow and ice, giving to the walker the impression to move in a strange world, a lunar landscape.
The Bennett Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), of Sonora (California)
It is with the same plane that I went to Sonora. We passed near Yosemite National Park and it is a curious impression to see the Giant sequoias from the top top; we also flew over Mono Lake (on your right)and I fell under the charm from this splendid stretch of water blue turquoise. It is the stronghold of the family of Ansel Adams, which was a famous photographer naturalist.
After a few days in Sonora, in the search of contacts, I was dealt with Ernie Marino, arborist, and his friends, the Burns brothers to go to see the Bennett Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) which is approximately four thousand years old. One sacred day started. My friends had rented snowmobiles, better means of going to Sonora Pass. We took delicious small ways covered with snow, climbing splendid peaks while admiring the beauties of the mountain. We had to even tojump with our machine a small stream. Lastly, after two good hours, we reached the stronghold of the Bennett Juniper. One unforgettable moment!
Joshua National Park, California :
Before leaving North America, the son of Weston Naef, this last one being the photographic Manager of the Ghetty Museum, drove me to Joshua National Park, to discover there the Josua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) which is thousand-year-old. I did not find it. Whereas the night cam and that the young Naef wanted to return on Santa Monica, I was concquit by some Yuccas of which this one, under the gleam of the moon. Joshua National Park is a magic place, and so calms. An excellent place to release themselves, meditate! I will go back there. Why not together...
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