Category Archives: Sequoia National Forest

Stinging Nettle Sting Test


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With a goal to harvest stinging nettle before it succumbs to a heavy freeze, Frederick and I headed out to a friend’s creek last week with bags, clippers, and gloves.

The cool fall day was exquisite.

Two years ago I would have had “stings” from the nettle right through my leather garden gloves as I harvested.

It doesn’t seem possible, but if you are sensitive to nettle and have picked much of it, you know of what I speak. My rash would linger for a few days. It was always made worse by the inevitable bit of bare skin that I didn’t realize was bare — that spot would be quite uncomfortable from the burning sting of nettle for as long as five days.

This harvest was different. I was armed with a homemade extract of lambs quarters. A friend suggested the lambs quarters remedy in the spring and it worked so well, I threw some lambs quarters in vodka in an attempt to preserve the remedy. The lambs quarters extract has helped fight itch as well — in another strange Sequoia tale here.

Add to the lambs quarters and vodka extract that I’ve been eating lambs quarters soup, I was loaded from the inside out with my favorite stinging nettle remedy.

With the feeling of invincibility of a 17 year old with a new sport’s car, I lifted a sprig of nettle with my gloved hand and wondered if I could harvest gloveless. I touched the nettle with my bare hands as a test.

Indeed, gloves are still a really good idea.

If you touch the extra-spiny stems with your bare hands, a lambs quarters extract may keep you from crying like a baby but you may have a reminder for a day or two that stinging nettle stings.

If you would like to harvest nettle and want to be able to identify it by something other than its sting, here’s a quick video:


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Cold Water Soaking (& Getting Caught in Chones)


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Some weeks ago I was talking to a friend about this summer’s “cold water therapy” — cold water soaking to fight inflammation and maybe even depression. (I wrote about it on the Rebuild Blog here.) Those very cold creek soaks helped me beat the summer heat but also seemed to give me a sense of wellness, which I desperately needed caring for my dad after his open heart surgery.

I felt convicted by the story: If it helped me in the summer, why am I no longer soaking?

It was 60 degrees after all, not exactly frigid. Sure, it had snowed once and snow melt was pouring down those creeks, but wasn’t that the point — to get really cold?

In a moment of apparently too much bravery, I set out to soak up to my waist. I didn’t have a lot of time (or supplies apparently). I had a towel in the car and I reasoned that since my plan was to sit in a shallow part of the creek, the long shirt I was wearing would cover my chones and no one would ever show up at Tyler Creek anyway on that weekday in November. Why bother driving home for actual swim wear? Really, who has time to cross every T, right?

My car was the lone car in the turnout at Tyler Creek when I ventured into the creek. I left my pants on a nearby rock and gasped as I put my feet into the snow melt. It’s bad enough in the summer but it’s a whole new experience in 60 degree weather. Already largely committed, I walked further into the creek and further from my pants. Almost immediately I changed my goal to soaking up to my knees. Waist-deep was far too much for a first-timer like myself.

As I stood knee-deep in the creek, I heard a dog barking.

A hiker had arrived and the hiker’s dog found me first. I estimated that I had 60 seconds before the hiker would be in sight.

I looked across the creek at my pants and decided that it would be far worse to be caught putting on pants then to be seen soaking in a creek even if the whole chones part was obvious.

As the hiker passed I waved and shouted “I know I must be crazy — I’m soaking my knees!”

“I’m sorry about the dog!” she called.

Well played on both sides.

No mention of the chones.


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Ladybug Adventure at White River Campground


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As you explore the Sequoia National Forest you may happen upon a small colony of ladybugs covering rocks and tree trunks so completely that they are red in appearance. Move your hand toward the red rock or tree trunk and you may have an experience similar to Frederick in the video below.

This beloved and beneficial garden insect definitely becomes more “bug-like” as it creeps down your shirt and up your pants should you happen upon a large colony. Find a colony at White River Campground during the summer and fall, just 30 minutes past California Hot Springs in the Sequoia National Forest.


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Fallen Giant Sequoias Plan, Nostalgic Video Bonus


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Two months after two Giant Sequoia trees fell in the Trail of a Hundred Giants blocking a large portion of the wheelchair accessible trail, the Forest Service has announced a plan to renovate make the trail accessible once again.

Despite the two votes in our household that the Forest Service carve a tunnel through the massive tree trunks (that tower 18-feet as they lay across the trail), the Forest Service has decided to build a boardwalk alongside the lower edge of the trees. The boardwalk will allow visitors to experience the expanse of the Giants as they move across the area that was disrupted by the fall.

The Forest Service released their plan outlining the various proposals to reroute the trail and their decision. The suggestions are mapped in the graphic below, save my suggestion to join the trail between marker #6 and #11 (not that it was the very best idea I’ve ever had and it was delivered via a tipsy “Tweet,” so I didn’t hold a lot of hope for it).

The fallen trees are the big green rectangle, the proposed boardwalk the blue rectangle.

Though my boys were strong on the tunnel plan, we all look forward to a new boardwalk and plenty to talk about in our weekly visits to the Trail. As a memento of our days at the Trail before the fall, we have discovered a video in our family archives — “The Boom Boom Bridges,” bridges I honored in my previous report of the fallen giants.


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Two Fallen Giant Sequoias at Trail of a Hundred Giants


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Two centuries-old Giant Sequoia trees fell three weeks ago at the Trail of a Hundred Giants, southeast of Visalia forever changing the Trail’s natural rhythm. The Trail welcomed about 5,000 visitors each week, many of whom would only visit the Trail once. Counted in those 5,000 people were my two young sons and me who visited the Trail at least weekly from our home in California Hot Springs.


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Trail of 100 Giants Fire


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The Trail of 100 Giants — a protected grove of Giant Sequoia trees — caught fire around July 21. None of the redwoods were lost. Here is some of the aftermath as the fire fighters managed controlled burns to burn down some of the fuel.


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Shadows on the Trail of 100 Giants


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Located in the southern Sequoia National Forest, this fully handicapped accessible trail winds through a grove of Giant Sequoia trees. Among these massive trees, a small child runs back and forth across a bridge saying “Boom, boom! It’s a boom, boom bridge!” and, somehow, gets more attention from tourists than the trees.


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Goose Walking Trail Of 100 Giants


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Filed under “you can’t make this stuff up,” this interesting fellow (pictured “flapping” his arms) walked his pet goose along the Trail Of 100 Giants, a grove of Giant Sequoia trees in our area. Maybe we aren’t the strangest people on that particular trail after all.7


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Ladybug Spawning


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We have been visiting a collection of ladybugs at a local creek. I remember visiting this same creek about twenty years ago with friends and excitedly scooping up ladybugs. When they start crawling up your pants, they are definitely more in the “bug” category than in the “aren’t they cute” category.


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Fourth of July Under the Pines


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This parade is a highlight of the year here in the southern Sequoia National Forest. The 4-H club sponsors a parade that is just so quaint, I would travel for it if I didn't live here. Anybody at all can enter the parade as a few of the pictures would suggest, but it is basically all of the locals riding whatever they may choose. The last picture is the deputy scooping horse manure out of the street, not keen with being photographed, he was throwing it right in my direction. I had to jump to miss it.

4-H-parade

Parade

Parade2

Poop


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