I parked La Tortue beside the pristine Smith River in Jedediah Smith State Park last night, a preserve of old and second-growth redwood trees. Today, I walked in a grove where fire had swept through hundreds of years ago; many of the oldest trees were scarred by the flames, but continued to adapt and even thrive. The heart of one tree had been entirely burned out in that blaze. Another, pictured here, lost part of its trunk and responded by twisting and turning itself upward in response.
I am in awe of their resilience.
Late this afternoon, I met with a cultural director from the Yurok Tribe, who described how his people carve dugout canoes from a whole redwood. They split a mature tree in half to make two canoes, with the outside of each canoe formed by the heart of the tree, the part which they say is the strongest and most durable and makes the best keel. To crouch before the canoe and see the ancient tree rings on the boat’s exterior was a nice way to wrap up my day.