It was a beautiful day to walk among the giant trees in Sequoia National Park (all my pics here). The sun was beginning to set and I was sitting on the last bench along the Trail of 100 Giants, listening to the sounds of Nature. The longer I was quiet, the more I heard, from the calls of several different birds (none of which were meadowlarks!) to some unsettling creaking noises coming from the nearby trees. I paid special attention to the creaking, in case of a “timber” requiring a full dash with the cat under my arm back to the campground. I noticed things were falling loudly and often from a very tall tree I had passed just back up the trail. I couldn’t make out what had fallen, so I walked over to investigate.
Scanning the forest floor and nervously glancing upward, I waited for another falling object. Not 30 seconds later (and not 30 feet away): Crash, crash, crash, whack! Something small and round hit the ground with a heavy thud. I couldn’t tell if it was some kind of pinecone or what, and my instinct told me to stay on the trail but I had to find out what it was. Just as I stepped off the trail, I heard crash, crash, crash, of the branches high above, then a whizzing past my head and WHACK! Another one had smashed into the trail right where I had been standing. I realized whatever was up in the tree was aware of my presence and wanted me to stay away from its stash! I stepped back onto the trail and picked up the heavy, sticky, fragrant green object (that had nearly put a hole in my cranium) and walked back to the bench.
I could tell it had been connected to the tree with about an 1/8-inch diameter branch that was still green. It had clearly been gnawed off at the end and thrown down purposefully by some animal high up in the tree. It smelled almost sweet enough to eat, but woodsy and pungent enough to be made into an alluring men’s cologne: I would have called it Sequoia Dusk.
I carried it with me for a while, smelling it over and over again, then just before leaving, I tossed it back in the woods in hopes that some animal would be glad to have it back. Today was a good day.