Monday, April 7, 2008

What's Out There? RIchard Preston

If you’ve ever been awed by a giant redwood (or sequoia), then you’ve felt a shade of the passion Richard Preston feels for these magnificent trees. Imagine trees so huge and impressive that they merit individual names: Hyperion, the largest on earth, is 379 feet tall (that’s roughly the height of a 32-storey building) and was only discovered in 2006. Imagine trees that can be up to 1000 years old. Imagine a complete ecosystem at the top of the redwood canopy where you find mosses, lichens, or even huckleberry thickets growing in up to 1 meter of soil. Imagine enormous limb linkages that look like flying buttresses in the forest. And yes, imagine sleeping up there in the canopy roped into a tree boat suspended high up in the tree, as Preston and his family have.

This session might have been called "What's Up There", rather than "What's Out There" as we saw the amazing climbing techniques with ropes and pulleys and daring to get to the top of these trees. Preston learned how to climb these extraordinary trees and even took his kids up there with him. He climbed with scientists who are dedicated to studying Redwoods. It’s such a singular ecosystem they wonder if they may find species up there unique to that environment.

Preston is best known as the author of fiction and non fiction biological thrillers, best known of which The Hot Zone, a true story about Ebola virus. His latest book, The Wild Trees, chronicles his love affair with Redwoods. His talk was so engrossing that I definitely want to add that book to my reading list.

1 comment:

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

If you liked The Wild Trees, here is a page you may find good use for:

Atlas Grove and Grove of Titans Redwood Photos

Same trees. See albums for large images.

The book is a good read, heavily peppered with superlatives.