The Redwoods – Those Old Men of the US Forests

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.09.00 amEverywhere we have travelled these last weeks we have seen tall trees, all kinds of tall mountain pine trees. They have become what are some of our most indelible of memories from this trip. Here in southern mountains of Oregon this is very much the view everywhere you look, it is like what the gum tree is to Australia.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.04.54 amWe have remained in forested country mostly, having travelled down from the Canadian Rockies and crossed the vast Montana prairie on into Yellowstone. We then cut across the Utah Snake River Plains and back into the mountains again.

As much as I love the strangled and tortured gums of the Australian bush and the endless view of misty blue green from Aussie mountain tops, you do come to appreciate the might of the old men of the forests in the mountain region of the northwestern American continent. But as you approach the lure of the wonderful redwood forests of California your heart warms. Particularly where the forest giants have been preserved.

Those great giants belong to a sadly, bygone era. The like of which we may never see again in our life time, nor in the time span of our civilizations. This aside from where they still remain slumbering silently due to the work and support of great men and women, to preserve these magnificent stands of ancient old growth forests.

The Man has an interest in all things treesie… it comes of being a woodworker himself, of old. So visiting forestry museums and wood galleries is a delight I have come to appreciate over the years. We are now so close to California and those grand old redwood giants, that it took him just a moment to decide we were gunna do the run down south. I should have know it would been something that would draw him.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 1.54.08 pmMy brush with all that is woodsie has a personal interest for me in the women of these woods. Those who cooked, cleaned and reared kids in the original log homes hewn and built by their men who worked at logging deep in the virgin forests. I love to read their recipes of life and labour. Everywhere we go I search out books and stories of their lives and these become much loved mementos of our travels. I revisit these stories and books over and over again and they give me more enjoyment and entertainment than any other memento could.

I love to learn the ‘common peoples’ stories, those of women and at times men. Those of trial and triumph as often touched with sadness, tragedy and terror as they are. These are the things that interest me personally. After all, as their men worked at logging and the like, the furniture and household tools they fashioned were for their women and families. The rustic beds, the heavy tables and the iconic yet practical furniture of this era had a unique bearing on history. These stories are that which makes up our lives and they are real and embroidered with the experience of life.

In my book foraging one of the more unique things I came across was for a treasure of recipes that included a ‘Son of a Bitch Stew’ which went like this:

This stew calls for using liver, heart, brains, sweetbreads, kidneys and marrow-gut of a freshly killed young steer. The marrow-gut is abut 3 feet and is a tube connecting the two stomaches of a cud-chewing animal. It is especially good while the calf is still nursing because it is tender, nourishing and resembles marrow. There are many variations of this stew although generally the prep. calls for cutting the entrails into small cubes, frying them i beef suet, then covering with water, salt and pepper and cooking for 2-3 hours. 

This kind of thing which is raw in life, is a treasure to me as it is something of the need to make use of every resource available to survive and I love it! Can’t you just imagine a woman standing over a broiling pot at a camp saying quietly as she serves up… “Shut-up and eat. You’re not gunna waste it!”

Where women were present there were more commodious homes and huts, the men cared for their comfort more when there was a woman and children to care for as well. It was a basic and in many ways a beautifully balanced way of life before commercial industry truly flooded in and bought the wild forests to their knees.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 1.58.41 pmWalking amongst the tall stately redwood giants was beyond a beautiful experience. We chose the ‘Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park’ where we could take a long trail through the majestic stands, one away from dusty roads. There is the ‘Avenue of Giants’ further south, which are well known but we wanted to feel the life of the forest on foot, in places less tainted by man. The oldest coastal redwoods are about 2,000 years old and healthy… this says a lot for the health and strength of our feeble civilizations. The lesson most to be learnt from these giants is to stand still, listen and treasure your wilderness and freedom.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 2.03.29 pmThe trail we took was the Redwood Highway south, down into California. Following the old stage coach trail from Oregon on into California. Diverging where the trail fell away from a tarred highway to a dusty ribbon winding through the mighty giants near the settlement town of Hiouchi, just south of the border. We wound our way along the Howland Hill Rd, with dozen’s of others cars. It was narrow, cloudy with dust and stunning. This old coach trail was a world unto itself, one steeped in sights from another age. The Boys Scout Tree Trail, which is a walking track over 2 miles long one way, was like stepping into a time long gone. It is not a trek to undertake lightly but it is imminently rewarding.

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Read in-depth about The Worlds Tallest Tree by following the link.

Or watch the video link from Youtube below.

Notes Aside:

  •  Americans are more accommodating and pet friendly with travellers. Even Government bodies accommodate the family pet in forests, reserves and parks. What happened in Aus to change this?

Jan is an Australian author and writer. You can find our more about her publications at her official web site. Be sure to check out the reader discounts there.

Jan an Naum

Rockies FP smallRead the full travelogue of Jans adventures in the e-book ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ now available at Amazon for just $US1.99




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