Rob on the Road: A Decade of Destinations – California Parks
Rob: Coming up on Rob on the Road, we're celebrating A Decade of Destinations. This time is the Best of California Parks. Sweeping majesty inside Sequoia Kings Canyon. Giant sequoias stretch high in the sky at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Amazing sights from beneath the restless earth at Lassen Volcanic National Park. And marvelous Muir Woods. All of that and so much more starts right now. Annc: And now Rob on the Road exploring Northern California. Rob: Hi there. I'm Rob Stewart and we are celebrating A Decade of Destinations-- The Best of California Parks.
We are inside Calaveras Big Trees State Park, home to giant sequoias that are thousands of years old. But California is one of America's greatest playgrounds covered with parks and pristine places for you to explore. Rob: California is a nature lover's dream come true and home to more state and national parks than any other place in America.
The showstopper is Yosemite National Park in the central Sierra Nevada. One of the most famous parks in the United States. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Rob: And we're here in the giant forest with Bill Tweed.
Good to see you, Bill. Bill: A pleasure. Rob: You're a sequoia expert here at Sequoia National Park, and this is just stunning everywhere you look. Bill: You've come to one of the magic places of the National Park System. You've come to probably the best place in the world to see giant sequoia trees. This is the place they're designed to be.
It has the right climate, which amounts to the right mix of temperature and water, and you can see the results. Rob: And, you know what's so amazing? Is that it all came from this. Bill: And in fact, not-- this is quite a cone, but it didn't grow from this.
It grew from one seed out of 200 that are in this little cone. The oldest sequoias by ring count have lived more than 3,000 years. We've counted up to 3,200 rings on a single tree. We don't know the complete potential. This grove covers only about three-square miles, but in it is over 40 miles a foot trail. Rob: Oh, my goodness.
Bill: You can always have a place like this to yourself. Rob: This is the oldest national park in California. Second oldest in the country. Bill: All true. This was created a whole week before Yosemite.
Rob: Just one week? Bill: One week. We kid Yosemite about that. Rob: And part of the biggest puzzle here is the General Sherman Tree. Bill: The ultimate sequoia tree. Rob: All right, well let's go look at it.
Bill: Let's do it. Rob: There it is. Wow. Bill: It's as big as they get. Rob: That is unbelievable. The largest tree in the world. Bill: And it's a monument to two things about sequoias, that they are long lived, and they are fast growing. And the biggest sequoias, like Sherman here, are not necessarily the oldest trees, they're simply the fastest growing trees.
Rob: So, how tall exactly is it? Bill: This tree is about 274 feet. A 25-story building, plus or minus. Rob: Okay. Bill: Has a basal diameter of something in excess of 36 feet. It gives it a circumference of 104, 105 feet around the bottom, and has within the trunk alone well over 50,000 cubic feet of wood. Rob: And can you even begin to guess how old it is? Bill: Our best estimate is probably 1,800 to 2,000 years, maybe 21 or 2,200.
Rob: And how long do you think it'll live? Bill: It's easily got many centuries left to it. Rob: Good. Bill: There's nothing immediately saying that it, uh, anything wrong with it. It just goes on growing. Rob: And this is the photo-op.
Bill: It is. There must be probably half a million pictures taken here a year, maybe a million. Rob: You know, you stand next to these massive sequoias and you can't help but feel a peace, a spiritual connection.
Bill: Somehow, for nearly everybody, giant sequoias have emotional context. Some people find peace and quiet. Some find the joy of nature. Some find God. There are lots of different reactions, but almost everybody has some kind of reaction. ♪♪ Rob: The birds are chirping, and the water is flowing here at the beautiful Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold.
Steven: Yes. Rob: Supervising Ranger, Steven Walloupe is our tour guide today. And what a treat. Good to see you. Steven: Yes. Thanks. Good morning and welcome to the park. So, let's go ahead and get the tour started and we'll go start at one of the most famous spots in the park. Rob: All right, let's go see it. C'mon.
Steven: All right. ♪♪ Rob: At discovery Tree. Wow... this is the... Steven: We're winding our way over to the Discovery Tree. Rob: Wow. Look... look how big they are when they're down.
Steven: Massive trees. Wait till you see the one we're about to go look at, as well as the Pioneer Cabin Tree that fell this year. Rob: There's more than 1,000 big trees here thriving and this one's massive. Steven: Right. So, this is one of the Sentinel trees in the park, and there's probably a... 100 plus,
150 trees out on the North Grove Trail, um, that are just like this. Giant humongous sequoias. Rob: The North Grove is the most famed Grove here. Steven: Right.
Rob: And this is where the park was discovered. Steven: Correct. Rob: Back in 1852. Steven: Right. Rob: Look at Discovery Tree! Steven: Right? Rob: Wow! This is the original discovery! You know, it blows my mind that one year after this tree was found that it was cut down.
Steven: Right? Yeah. They're uh, you know, the... the 1800's and people had never seen things like this. The idea was... was to exploit this, you know, people wanting to make money off of these things and especially something that... that no one had ever seen. Rob: This thing behind us-- Steven: Right.
Rob: The stump. Steven: Next to us is the stump. So, this is the Discovery Tree Stump. We call it the Big Stump now. Rob: And when you walk around the stomp, Steven, you realize how wide this thing is. Steven: Right? Rob: 24 feet across.
Steven: Right. Rob: Okay. Steven: And not one of the largest trees in the park. Rob: Yeah, we're going to see bigger ones. Steven: We will see some that are larger than this as we walk through the North Grove.
Rob: Fascinating. Now the story of how this was discovered... Steven: Right. Rob: Involved a bear? Steven: Correct.
So, Augustus T. Dowd was out here hunting bears. Story goes that he shot a grizzly bear, and it ran from him, ran into this area and, um, ran towards this... this tree in this area. And Augustus T. Dowd, you know, stopped in his tracks and was in awe of what he saw here.
So, yeah. Rob: And then he ran and told. Steven: Right. Yeah. He ran back and told, you know, tall tales of the trees that he found and people didn't believe him didn't, believe that these existed. So, you know, that's what, uh, started this whole thing of... of cutting down the tree and send it to different parts of the world and trying to prove that these things exist.
Rob: When this was discovered, it quickly became one of the Seven Wonders of the World, at that time. Steven: Right. Yeah. And you know, it still continues to... to attract people here, you know, and that's part of the reason why it eventually became a state park, and it is what we have nowadays. But this is one of the longest, continuously used recreational areas in California. If you can imagine that. Rob: Wow.
♪♪ Rob: We're starting off on the North Grove Trail. Steven: Right. Yeah, we'll━ Rob: Which is so beautiful. Steven: Go ahead and hike out and take a look.
Rob: Hi, y'all. Steven: Hi. Yvonne: I just wanted to tell you, you do a great service on your program because there's a lot of older people that are not able to walk this. So, as your show shows it, they get to see it. Rob: Well, how sweet. Thank you. What is your name? Yvonne: Yvonne.
Rob: Yvonne. And where do you live? Yvonne: In Roseville. Rob: In Roseville! Yvonne: Uh-huh. Rob: What brought you here? Yvonne: Uh, a little vacation. Um, I've seen it, been here 50 years ago and it's still as great as it ever was. Rob: 50 years ago you came here? Yvonne: Oh yes. Uh -huh.
Rob: That's awesome! So, has... has it changed? Yvonne: Uh, I don't think this part has changed. Yosemite has really changed, but not this. This is nice as ever.
Rob: And so, you guys are going to finish the park, I guess. Yvonne: Yes. Rob: All right. I'll let you go. This is, I guess your husband.
Yvonne: Yes. John. Rob: John. Good to see you. All right. Y'all have fun. Thanks for speaking. All right. Good to see you.
All right. So, we are gonna head down the North Grove Trail. Steven: Right. Rob: And... I hear water.
Steven: Yeah. We have Big Trees Creek that flows through here. A lot of times this doesn't even have water in it at all.
So, this time of the year we get some snow melt in the mid springtime, it'll be flowing through here, but, uh, it wouldn't be uncommon to come in the summer and see zero water. Rob: Yeah. None. I'm sure. I love how, when you look through here, how beautiful this is. Steven: Yeah, no, the... the trail is designed so that, you know, it, uh, definitely showcases what the park is here for.
Rob: I just gotta stand here for a minute and look at this. This is so California. Steven: Oh yeah.
♪♪ Steven: The giant sequoias are the whole reason the park is here. It's been a park since 1931 under the State Park system. Our main goal is to protect and preserve this park and protect and preserve these trees. Um, and it's interesting to talk to the public and...
and hear feedback that this place hasn't changed in, you know, 50 years. ♪♪ Rob: Oh, my goodness. This is it. The fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree. Wow. Oh, look at the root ball. My goodness. Oh, you can see where people used to go through. You realize how big it is when you get up next to it.
Steven: Yeah. It's pretty impressive. Rob: It is. And it's... it's sad. Steven: Yeah, it is. It's like, uh, you know, the trees final resting spot there.
Rob: Well, we all fall down and you're still going to turn this into something beautiful. Steven: Oh, yeah. Rob: It's still drawing people here to see it. Steven: It's sad, you know, that the thing was estimated 2,000 years old. So, um, just to think about all the things that it's experienced, you know, all the way from being a little tiny tree all the way up until full grown. And then just to...to topple over and...
and lay here for who knows how long. Rob: I have to tell you, I didn't expect to be so sad when I saw it, but I walked up, you and the crew were already ahead and I was coming along behind just thinking and I saw it and I went, "Oh my gosh, that's it." And it broke my heart. Steven: Yeah. Rob: But I stopped and also thought for a second that you know what, everything falls down in life.
And you're surrounded by reminders that everything gets back up. Steven: Right. Rob: Or lives on in a different way. Steven: Correct. Yeah. And-- Rob: It's just what you do with it. Steven: Yeah.
Rob: What's the park going to do with this, what we see now? You'll give it new life? Steven: Right. And then we will also put interpretive signs here that explain this trees' history. ♪♪ Rob: What a beautiful drive, about 10 minutes from the North Grove and that gorgeous scenic overlook. Steven: Yeah. Rob: We've come out to the bridge and, wow! Look at this! This is unbelievable. This is Stanislaus River. Where is this coming from?
And where is it going? Steven: So, it's basically originating out of the high up in the Sierras and it goes into the, obviously the drainage of the Stanislaus River. Comes, makes its way down through the park, uh, then into a couple of reservoirs down below the park and eventually down into the Delta and the Bay. Rob: What a beautiful scene. It's roaring. This portion is open to the public late end of April through mid-October, depending on weather. Steven: Yes. Yeah. So, we'll get a lot of recreation down here.
It's a pretty popular area of the park. Rob: For? Steven: With fishing, swimming, there's rafting companies that run a commercial rafting down the river that actually end right here at the... at the bridge. Rob: That's Class 4, 5 right there.
I can tell you that. Steven: Oh yeah. Rob: Let's cross over to a little more peaceful part of it just right underneath us. Steven: Definitely worth coming to see, you know, if you come to the park. Not everybody comes down here. A lot of people will stop in the North Grove or they'll just be in their campsites and never make their way down here. Rob: It's really not far.
Steven: No. And they're... they're definitely missing out on a big part of the park. Rob: What do the parks mean to you personally? Take off your ranger hat, figuratively. What does it mean to you? Steven: So, to me, it's-- they're important preserved pieces of land. And that's a big part of why I enjoy doing this job because we are the... the stewards of them, you know, and...
and my job here is to protect this. Rob: Do you, inside your heart and soul, feel renourished or replenished by your job? Steven: I do, very much so. Yeah. I mean, it's-- I like being out here, you know, I like coming- I like being at the park as much as I like working at the park. So, it is definitely, um, you know, the...
the whole concept of recreation is recreating yourself, you know. And... and-- Rob: I love that. Steven: We provide that for... for visitors and for the public and people all around the world that want to come and see this. You know, a lot of people are stuck in their lives, stuck in their jobs, you know, stuck in a city maybe, and never see stuff like this. So, you know, they get to come out here and see the giant sequoias, see the river and... and see nature.
And I think it, uh, it does something for them and certainly helps them, um, relax and reset their minds at times. Rob: Recreation. Recreate. Steven: Right. Rob: I love that.
And I see Peace Officer on your badge. Steven: Right. Rob: So, uh, this experience has brought me a lot of peace today. Rob: And still ahead on Rob on the Road A Decade of Destinations-- The Best of California Parks. Rob: Walk with me into Muir Woods and down memory lane as we open the vault to season one and one of our first road trips.
But first, one of Americas most active volcanic national parks. ♪♪ Rob: We're in Lassen Volcanic National Park and behind me is Lassen Peak. It really is the power point of this park at about 10- and- a- half thousand feet high.
You know, this whole place is a volcanic phenomenon with 150 miles of hiking trails. Now, we're in a peaceful place right now, but today we're going on a three-mile round-trip hike to a place that is boiling with power. ♪♪ Rob: And we're hiking along one of the most popular parts here at Lassen Volcanic National Park with Ranger Karen Haner. Ranger, good to see you. Karen: Good to meet you. Rob: This is quite a hike and quite a sight. Karen: What we have are remnants of an old composite volcano that stretched or spanned this whole Valley area called Brokeoff Volcano or Mount Tehama.
Brokeoff Volcano, Mount Diller and Pilot Pinnacle are three of the several half dozen mountains that are left from the old Brokeoff Volcano. Rob: Because this whole area used to be filled with a volcano. Karen: Yeah, we're inside an old volcano that stretched a couple of thousand feet higher than the present-day Lassen Peak.
Rob: And when did it blow? Karen: That was about, uh, between 400 and 600,000 years ago. Rob: We are headed to Bumpass Hell, which is one of the most popular spots here as well. Karen: It is. It's our largest hydrothermal basin. Rob: All right, well, let's go check it out. ♪♪ Rob: The smell and the sound is getting stronger and louder as we get closer and closer.
Oh, my gosh, this is it. Karen: This is Bumpass Hell basin. Rob: Wow. Karen: Where you can see active mud pots, fumaroles, steam vents, boiling pools. It's an expression of the earths heat and volcanic origins.
Rob: And the smell. Karen: It's hydrogen sulfide, and a mixture of other chemicals that are being brought up. Rob: Is that what the inside of the earth smells like? Karen: I haven't been there yet. It smells like rotten eggs, doesn't it? Rob: It does. It does.
But it's also stunningly beautiful. Let's go. ♪♪ Rob: We've got 16 acres of hydrothermal area here, but look at that boiling water, it's just popping out of the earth. Oh! And look at that one over there it's even higher. Karen: It can reach temperatures between 150 to 200 degrees. Rob: And what is this? I mean, why in the world is this happening? And here? Karen: The water that finally reaches that hot rock where the magma is heating it. Rob: Okay.
Karen: And it comes back up and it just happens to be close enough to the surface that we get it here. Rob: Oh my gosh. Look at this. Karen: Yes. What you're seeing is the boiling Pyrite Pool. See that black scum? Rob: Yeah. Karen: That's iron that is leached out. Rob: The site definitely outweighs the smell.
Karen: It's and earthy smell. Rob: There you go. There you go. Karen: Yeah. Rob: Let's keep touring. ♪♪ Karen: These vents that you see, they're not as active as maybe some of the other ones you see in there, but there's little ones, big ones, and there's hidden ones.
And you never know, if you were to step out here, whether or not you break through the crust, it's very fragile in some places. Rob: And that's why it's called Bumpass Hell. Karen: Yes. Kenall Bumpass back in the late 1880 's was out here as a tour guide and he took a wrong step, and he broke through the crust and scalded his leg.
That's how this place became Bumpass... Bumpass Hell. Rob: And we're at Big Boiler now, which I guess is that roar we hear. Karen: That roar is a high-pressure steam vent. It's a fumarole, and it's the largest in the park.
And geologists have measured that fumarole at 322 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. Rob: Oh, and look at that, look at that yellow crystal. Karen: That's more of the sulfur-- Rob: Wow. Karen: That is... that is showing. Rob: And this really is the payoff. This is the core of Bumpass Hell.
Karen: Yes. This is where the action is. It is worth the... the walk out here. Rob: You know, you see people walking away and they're smiling.
They're with their kids and their families, and it really is a national treasure. Karen: That's the best part of my job is seeing people's first awe. Seeing you, um, experience this place for the first time. Rob: It is... it is breathtaking. Karen: It reminds me of how... how special it is. And it makes you grateful for the people that came before that had the... the thoughtfulness to keep them
for us. And that we're... we're given that opportunity to save it for our future generations. It is America's best idea. ♪♪ Rob: You're in for a treat today because we are here with Ranger Lou Sian here at Muir Woods. Good to see you. Lou Sian: Nice to see you Rob.
Rob: Thanks for joining us. Conservationist John Muir, called this the best tree lovers' monument in the world. You agree? Lou Sian: Oh, I absolutely. It is just the most beautiful place. Rob: These are coastal Redwoods. How old would you say they are? Lou Sian: We think that they-- the oldest trees in the forest are about 1,000 to 1,300 years old, but we have also very young trees that came up since last winter.
Rob: Wow. And how large is Muir Woods? Lou Sian: It's about 560 acres. Rob: So, you have from the smallest to the tallest trees here, and the widest is right down that way. So, let's go see it. Rob: And here it is. This is that widest tree. Lou Sian: Yes.
Rob: In all of Muir Woods. Lou Sian: Yes. It's 13 -and -a -half feet in diameter at breast height, for a very tall forester.
Rob: And so how... how tall is the tree? Lou Sian: Um, we're not real certain about the heights of trees. We can measure them when they fall down. Rob: Lou, it's very spiritual. Lou Sian: Yes. Yeah, it definitely is. You have to give it little time.
People come and they're leaving a major metropolitan area when they really get back to-- the back of the canyon, um, all of a sudden, they just calm down and then the human voice becomes something foreign. Rob: And look at how these-- they're are almost in a circle. Lou Sian: Yes. This is a, called a family circle. And this is how most of the redwoods, uh, tend to grow.
Uh, the tree in the center is the parent tree. Rob: Oh, yeah! Lou Sian: At one time the-- there were sprouts that grew up around the base. And when that parent tree fell over, it opened up the canopy so that light could reach the forest floor. And those sprouts grew up to be these really tall trees after centuries of time. Rob: Like kids, like a family.
Lou Sian: Exactly. Rob: And also, you see some that fall, they catch each other. Lou Sian: Yes, exactly.
Rob: Like a family. Lou Sian: Well, right. There's a lot of things you can learn from redwood trees.
Rob: And ranger, Lou, this was one of the cool things you can do, come inside of the tree and have your picture taken and just be surrounded by this massive redwood. Lou Sian: Absolutely. This is one of the few places where people can get really close to the trees.
Rob: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for having us here at Muir Woods, north of San Francisco. Lou Sian: Thank you, Rob. Rob: Thank you for joining us on A Decade of Destinations-- The Best of California Parks.
So much fun to explore the Golden State with you. ♪♪