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Photo Credits to David Katz , Jake Rudin, Zac Peterson , and Robert Moore.

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Before:

Dave, Jake, Colin, and Mark had all been to the Redwoods to scout for this trip in 2010, leaving me as the only newcomer. After handing in (and passing!) my electrodynamics final, I received a call from Jake while packing up my apartment. Having missed his flight, Jake booked a flight the next morning and crashed at my apartment in Menlo Park, CA until I arrived. I said goodbye to Mary, picked up Yan in Mary Jane, dropped off some unwanted items at friends houses and COE, and headed for Malvern. Yan slept through the rain as we drove, but I wasn't so fortunate. We played hockey and did yoga in the Allentown rest area parking lot to stay awake.

Arriving in Malvern, I packed up the remainder of my belongings, as my parents were moving as well in a few weeks. Somehow all the things I packed have since disappeared into a cardboard box never to be found. Never seeing Mathematical Physics again doesn't seem so bad actually. I slept for four hours before waking up at 4:30am to drive to PHL and fly through DFW to SJC.

The Redwoods:

I arrived in California last, rented a giant white suburban, and picked up Jake at my apartment. Jake kept me awake with talk of his girlfriend and fried chicken on the five hour drive to the Fresno Airport. There, we picked up Andrew and Zac and began the windy 2.5 hour drive up into the Sierra Nevada. At one point we passed an S-turn warning sign that said "Next 32 Miles". That night, I crashed hard on the porch of the Whitaker cabin doubly excited to not be in school and to be adventuring. I would have slept for a full night for the first time in a week had I not found out that Colin makes lots of groaning/moaning noises as he slumbers.

Day 1: Skills Review This day we practiced skills in three stations. Mark taught flip-flopping on a sugar pine at the outskirts of the clearing, Jake and I taught switch to rappel with the blue haul line close to the cabin, and Dkatz and Colin rigged a baby Sequoia to climb 0.1 miles away. Meeting and climbing with all our students in Ithaca before the course started made things run smoothly.

Day 2: Tree 155 I made everyone hearty pancakes to start the day off right. Then, as per our usual, we circled up for a safety and personal check-in led by Dkatz. Dkatz, Jake, Colin, and several students went off to project a different tree, while Mark and I led students to tree 155. I carried the 600ft 35lb static line in one of Dkatz's custom made backpacks. At the base of the tree, we scouted a place to shoot the crossbow.

Day 3: Tree 155 Mark finished projecting tree 155, with me as his ground person. We then switched roles, and I manned the top of the tree with Tara, Zac, and Liz joining me to enjoy the view. This was the first full-height Redwood I had ever climbed. When I wasn't climbing, I was relaxing in hammock on the ground listening to updates on the walkie-talkie and entertaining students waiting to climb. Walkie-talkies never get less fun as you get older as evidenced by our call signs and radio lingo which was etymologically advanced by day three. This trip was also my first introductions to Dave-isms. Dkatz would crackle over the radio: "It's arctic up here, bro. I'm wearing all my layers and it's still hateful. We're talking heinous fog - just heinous!" That night, Mark shaved his beard and looked really young for the rest of the trip.

Day 4: Hiking and Overnight As a group, several students elected to take a day off and hike a loop in Kings Canyon National Park up the hill from Whitaker Forest. Upon entering the National Park, we found the road to the park still blocked by a snow field 6ft deep and at least a quarter mile long.. Andrew, who had been carrying a shovel up and down the road everyday to repair the drains couldn't shovel it all. Luckily, one area of the park was accessible before the snow wall, so we took a 7 mile hike in a neighboring valley.

That night, Colin and I took Trevor, Tara, Ryan, and Brooks up into tree 236 to sleep at the top. After rigging the final hammock I radioed down to Dave that I had now done everything I wanted to do in life. He radioed back, "Well Rob, there are plenty more satellites that need to be built and a possible bride in you future, so I'm suggesting you stick around." The hammock turned out to be a complete dud, and Trevor had a branch sticking into his back for the better part of the night. After finally getting all our students into their hammocks, I peed out of the backside of the tree with some help from Collin who held the back of my harness. Incidentally, I peed all over my hammock 20 feet below, and was forced to spend the night just slightly reclined on a branch. Tara had much more success peeing out her side of the tree despite having no aiming abilities. At about 4:30am, Brooks started calling for Colin who was fast asleep. I helped Brooks get set-up with a rappel, and he made it to the ground 200+ feet below just in time dig a cat hole.

Day 5: Rest and Filming After getting almost no sleep on the overnight and already being tired from school, Colin and I crashed on the couches in the cabin while the course went out to climb for the day. That afternoon we managed to do some filming for a film we put together on the trip.

Day 6: Rig Your Own Tree For the final day of the course, several students including Andrew, Zac, and Ryan wanted to try to rig their own tree. I again served as designated ground person, but was kept busy this time moving and daisy-chaining rope. At one point during Mark's descent I heard a loud ripping noise and braced myself for a falling limb. The noise turned out to be an especially loud fart Mark had let out from 100 feet above. The students decided to open the mystery food can on the last day of the trip, only to find out it was full of 1 gallon of nacho cheese. Jake, Colin, and I laughed for about an hour straight about the ridiculousness of bringing said processed food product into the middle of the woods. Having already eaten all the tortilla chips, we buried the cheese in the vicinity of Whitaker's grave. RIP Nacho Cheese-hands off Whitaker, that's Not Yo Cheese.

At the end of Day 6 we concluded the course with a debrief and group "remember when" game. At one point, Molly chimed in with the priceless comment, "you guys hear those voices too?" Redwoods I is still the best COE trip I have ever been on.

Redwoods Week 2:

Dkatz, Collin, Jake, Jeff, and Tammy stayed an extra week to handle seed collection for CALFIRE and U.C. Berkeley.

Hi David,

I enjoyed the article about your climbing extravaganza. You make it sound so easy; I wouldn't be surprised if climbing GS trees becomes the next "extreme sport".

Thank you for the mention.  I would like to clarify the name of our facility just in case there is an opportunity for future reference. Our facility, one of the oldest in continuous operation for the Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (since 1927 at its present location), was originally known as the Davis Headquarters Nursery. In 1982 it was renamed and dedicated to Lewis A. Moran, the man appointed as first Director when the "Division" of Forestry became a bona fide Department of it's own in the 1970s.

The GS cones have ripened and we tumbled the cones about a week ago to separate the seed out and screened the mass to remove large and small debris.  There was no viable seed in the "aged" cohort and few seeds in the "spent or brown" cohort.  This is what we expected.

It is obvious from the preliminary x-ray analysis of the "target" and "green" cohorts that this years' cones have fewer viable seed when compared to last year.  This was not entirely unexpected, as last season is considered exceptional when looking at yield and germination data across years. While periodicity has not been closely studied for GS, there is generally a 5-15 year gap between "bumper" crops for most conifers, and it is unusual to have back to back exceptional or abundant crop years.

Next, we will upgrade the GS seed using pneumatic separators (a slow process when the seed is so small and lightweight) and then the actual germ test will take another 10 weeks.  Seems like a long process from start to finish but it all gets done in it's time.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

I recently met with Ken and Rob at another function and we agreed that this will likely be a multi-year study so..... I may be back at Whitaker's next year and we may run into one another again.

Until then, best to you, tg

Teri Griffis

CAL FIRE
L.A. Moran Reforestation Center

We were also on the front page of the Ithaca Journal, but the online link has been taken down.

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