Friday, July 16, 2010

A tree grows in Brooklyn

Well, the tree doesn't really grow in Brooklyn, but actually grows on the top of Devils Postpile.  The first time I was at Devils Postpile, we climbed up to the top of the postpile.  It's like being on top of a large patio terrace in someone's back yard, with the major difference being if you take a wrong step, you're falling a long way.

10 years ago, I took all three kids camping in Yosemite National Park.  On one of our hikes, we hiked up to the top of Vernal Fall.  The hike is strenuous, with lots of stair steps rocks to negotiate.  There is a guardrail along that part of the trail, and once you get to the top, the guardrail had a screen wire grate along the bottom portion of the rail to prevent anyone from slipping out and falling over the waterfall.  The viewpoint is right on the edge of the waterfall as you can see by the picture.

The Tadpole, at the time was four years old and when we climbed to the top of the fall, he dutifully held my hand, mainly for safety, but also because he wanted to feel the support of Dad as he made his ascent.  It was at the top when all hell almost broke loose.  In every parent's worst nightmare, he broke free of my hand, just as we crested the trail and the viewpoint.  I hadn't seen the wire mesh grate, but even if I had, I probably would have freaked a little bit.  Because I didn't see the wire mesh, needless to say I freaked a lot.  Suffice to say, nothing happened that day and the Tadpole is still around, as am I.

One of the things I noticed about the Tadpole on this past trip was his willingness to just take over things that I normally did when we camped.  He decided to be in charge of the food storage box.  In California, most campgrounds in bear country are outfitted with metal storage lockers to prevent bears from raiding your supplies and also to keep bears away from populated areas.  Bears that feed on people food, as opposed to what they're supposed to be eating isn't good for either bears or people.  The Tadpole decided that the storage box was his territory on this trip.  He organized it, he got the supplies out when it was time to cook dinner, and he put the supplies away at the end of the meal.  It was nice to not have to do everything this time around.

I think I might have been more nervous on the top of Devils Postpile back then had we gone there.  There is no guardrail and not anything to remind people of a steep drop.  Everyone knows it's there.  I didn't even think twice about walking around up there nor did I worry about the Tadpole.  His maturity, at almost 15 now, is showing big time and he's turning into that responsible young man that we all hope our sons turn into when they reach that age.

One of the things that I wanted to show the Tadpole at the top was a small tree.  I'd photographed this tree back in 1977.  As you may have noticed if you're a regular reader, I enjoy seeing the struggles of like, especially when plants grow where you don't think they should grow.  The tree that used to grow on the top of Sentinel Dome is one good example.  When I took that photo, I figured this tree might be something along that line and I hoped that someday I might get back to see it.  As you can see, the tree hasn't grown much.  By comparing the two pictures, I think it's safe to say there's about a foot of growth on the tree.

I guess I was overly optimistic when we came back this summer.  I think I was expecting the tree to be several feet higher.  After all, it had 33 years in which to grow.  I forgot about where it was growing.  It had two major disadvantages going against it.  The first, and probably the most important was the fact that it was growing in very shallow soil.  There were a lot of nutrients at the top of the postpile and so it's growth would probably be microscopic.  Because it's so readily accessible during the summer months, I'm sure it gets beaten around by all the people that make the short trek to the top of the postpile as well.

Still, the tree had grown a little and that was promising.  It also showed, that it would be a long time before this little tree towered over anything else in the forest.  It has its foothold.  Now, hopefully, it will continue to send down roots and continue to thrive.  The Jeffrey pine tree on the top of Sentinel Dome is no more, but it lived a good long life and never got more than about 12 feet tall at best.  The living conditions up there were probably harsher.  I have hopes for this little tree.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Mist Trail Cache - by V-man
Devils Postpile Glacial Polish - by TerryDad2

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a neat post! Thank you for sharing the before and after pictures of this little tree.