Giant Sequoia & Calaveras Adventure 2012
Including Eldorado National Forest & Champion Pines
Copyright 2012 by Mario Vaden
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The photos are from Calaveras grove and Eldorado National Forest.
August, 2012, Michael Taylor, Mike Hanuschik and myself, made a trip to Calaveras Giant Sequioa forest plus Eldorado National Forest. Our visit covered 3 aspects: find and photograph known champion pines for American Forests; look for new champion Pine, Giant Sequoia or Fir around Calaveras; photography
The first day, in Eldorado, we stopped to photograph "Ruby" the national champion Ponderosa Pine. It appeared to be in very good condition. Nearby, Michael took measurements of another Ponderosa Pine while Mike scouted, and I photographed a Sugar Pine.
Eventually we drove south near Calaveras grove for the Whelan Sugar Pine, the national champion for that species (2012). It is at least 11 feet diameter and over 200' tall. It's near Dorington, California, a few miles from Arnold. We found lodging at the Timberline Lodge.
After the Whelan Pine, we tried unsuccessfully to reach the Pickering Pine and One-Armed Bandit, the 2nd and 4th largest known Sugar Pines. After studying maps and roads that night, Taylor found a route unimpeded. After a hike and mild bushwhack, we found the fallen remains of both Pines.
Apparently, the December 2011 storm that rocked Calaveras area, broke and blew down both Pickering and One-Armed Bandit. It's possible the same gust dropped both trunks simultaneously: huge pines crashing at the same moment.
We also explored forest near a river about 20 minutes from Arnold, and found an 8 ft. diameter Sugar Pine approximately 200' tall. Sugars that size are rare ... like less than a dozen known that wide.
Very close to Calaveras Giant Sequoia Grove, we darted in and out of forest in a small valley and flat looking for potential tallest pines and firs. Nothing new was found that afternoon, but Taylor and I each stepped on yellow jacket hives in two different areas, getting stung a couple of times. Not bad though.
Quite a few conversations were started near the big stump and log downhill from the visitor center, where we met people from around the country. A few people were interested in trying out the laser rangefinder, aiming the scope and crosshairs toward the canopies.
More: . . . . . we found the Timberline Lodge to be hospitable. The lady at the desk even called another local motel to check on prices, related to our budget, as a favor. In the end, we picked the Timberline and one of the two remaining rooms. The Mexican food restaurant had fairly hefty portions that filled us to capacity, and the meals were tasty. It was across from the Chevron & convenience store in Arnold, CA. The area is beautiful, and the community was hospitable.