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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring (2007)

de Richard Preston

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1,0425114,532 (4.01)50
Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the tallest organisms the world has ever sustained--the coast redwood trees. 96% of the ancient redwood forests have been logged, but the fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air. Until recently, the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. Writer Preston unfolds the story of the daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored. The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems, sometimes hollowed out by fire. Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life unknown to science.--From publisher description.… (mais)
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Strange, almost biographical book about adrenaline junkies masquerading as naturalists. ( )
  Paul_S | Mar 14, 2021 |
This book was so captivating that we ended up actually finding and seeing one of these groves of giants in person. I have to admit I am a bit torn by the premise that only someone 'researching' these trees can know their location, and that if revealed it would cause the forest to die. A quick drive through the redwoods reveals the truth: thousands of them have paths and dirt roads and asphalt roads all the way up to the edge of their trunks. People trample over their roots every single day by the thousands. And yet I have seen no statistics or reports indicating that this has caused these trees to die off and topple over at alarming rates. But the grove we saw is now blocked off because they are constructing fenced-off boardwalks to hem in the tourists. Yes, I will definitely revisit once this is reopened, but I don't think it was necessary at all.

I digress. This book is absolutely fantastic and mesmerizing, opening your eyes to a world above! ( )
  donblanco | Jan 4, 2021 |
Great book about Redwood trees. These trees exist along the coast of northern California and southern Oregon, they need fog, but not the salt so they are somewhat inland. The tallest one is named Hyperion 379.7 feet (115.7 m) tall and about 600 years old. It is fascinating that it was only discovered in 2006! These trees can live to 2000 years and has been around for over 240 million years! ( )
  xKayx | Dec 14, 2020 |
In 2013, my husband and I took a lazy drive across the US to Washington state and south down the coast highway to California. We zigzagged through Six Rivers National Forest when traveling to and from a friend's home in Arcata and were suitably amazed by the trees we passed. Unfortunately, most of the trees we saw were viewed only through our car windows and in no way did them justice. Knowing this, we've been eager to make a return trip--this time, we'll be visiting the trees themselves.

Since our trip, I've been fascinated by the redwoods. After reading Richard Preston's "The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring" I am filled with admiration for and envious of the people who love and climb them, too. Initially, I thought this book would be about the trees themselves. In actuality, it is really a story about the people who know these trees best--the botanists and naturalists and just-plain-tree fanciers who spend their free time in the redwood's world. In light of that, I feel it may be mistitled, but I am willing to forgive that mistake!

Although at times this story is more about the people searching for, researching, and climbing redwoods than it is about the trees themselves, wonderful details about the trees can be found in every chapter. I admit I would have liked to know even more about the trees, but not at the expense of losing the personal stories which I found quite charming.

The book is peppered with illustrations of the trees, a few scientific diagrams, and even some random lichens. All are interesting, but I wish there had been many more. I found myself searching online for pictures of the people themselves, the lichens, birds, salamanders, and detailed maps of the area.

I finished the book a little sad that it was over and I think that's the sign of a well-appreciated book. I also finished with a keen interest in tree climbing, botany, and tree canopies--all things I have not thought a great deal about in the past. All in all, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone interested in nature or science-y non-fiction. ( )
  hlkate | Oct 12, 2020 |
Despite the often-clunky writing, the glimpse this book provides into the previously unexplored ecosystem in the canopy of the redwoods is fascinating. Imagine miniature gardens, glades of ferns, huckleberry groves, salamanders, lichens and others growing 30 stories up in 2,000-year-old titans. Lovely. Not to mention the ancient trees themselves. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
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Those who shall dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Rachel Carson
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To my brother Douglas Preston. Remember that tree we used to climb when we were boys?
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One day in the middle of October, 1987, a baby-blue Honda Civic with Alaska license plates, a battered relic of the seventies, sped along the Oregon Coast Highway, moving south on the headlands. Below the road, surf broke around sea stacks, filling the air with haze. The car turned in to a deserted parking lot near a beach and stopped.
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Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the tallest organisms the world has ever sustained--the coast redwood trees. 96% of the ancient redwood forests have been logged, but the fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air. Until recently, the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. Writer Preston unfolds the story of the daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored. The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems, sometimes hollowed out by fire. Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life unknown to science.--From publisher description.

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