Backpacking in the giant sequoias

Stanley Shaw gets inspired by the ancient giant sequoias of Alder Creek

A man stands in the center facing the camera between two large giant sequoia trees, with giant sequoias in the background shrouded in fog.
Hiking among the giant sequoias of Alder Creek. Photo: Stanley Shaw

I went backpacking for the first time this past Memorial Day weekend with my colleague Adam Kaplan at the League’s Alder Creek property. It was the first time either of us had been there. We linked up with the League’s sequoia restoration and stewardship manager Tim Borden on Saturday along with his new, hyper pup Mickey. Together, the four of us had a grand time stargazing, viewing the Stagg Tree (fifth largest tree in the world, as most of you already know!), and hiking uphill through the giant sequoia grove just above camp. While the nights were cold (dropping down to ~0°C/32°F), the daytime provided an amazing blend of foggy and sunny weather. Sometimes, Tim and Adam would remark how it was like we were in a coast redwood forest instead of being out in the Sierra Nevada.

Two men and a dog walk uphill on a trail through large giant sequoia trees shrouded in fog.
A foggy walk through Alder Creek. Photo: Stanley Shaw

The most impactful part of the weekend for me was walking through the grove. The contrast of the first half of the hike (walking past plenty of big and live sequoias) and the second half (with burned sequoia pieces strewn across the ground or protruding skywards at a fraction of their former height) was incredibly stark. It drove home how close we were to losing such a magnificent place, and how high the stakes are now for the future.

Low-angle shot of a tall, burned giant sequoia tree broken at the top, surrounded by other burned trees with fog in the air
A burned giant sequoia tree on Alder Creek. Photo: Stanley Shaw

During the hike, Tim pointed out some baby sequoias—no more than an inch in height—growing out of the ground. It’s been a while since I last saw one, and I forgot how absolutely diminutive they are starting out. But it gives me hope that people in the future will, as Adam said to me at one point (and I’m paraphrasing), still have the world’s best and tallest chiropractor to look up to.

Low-angle shot from behind a man standing in the center between two tall giant sequoia trees; he is looking up at the tree on the right.
Between two giants. Photo: Stanley Shaw


About the author

Stanley Shaw joined the League as Conservation Programs Assistant in 2020. He enjoys combining his passion for the redwoods with his longtime hobby of photography.

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One Response to “Backpacking in the giant sequoias”

  1. Jim M

    Great photos.
    My 1st and only visit to Giant Sequoias was about 5 years ago. I was so overwhelmed by these orange giants that they were all I could talk about for a month after returning home.
    Close friends would cross the street to avoid me while walking downtown. :-))
    I wish I could return to them, but sadly it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.


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