Small redwood sapling between two stakes, a forest in the background.

Rainy adventure to see the Champion Grove, a recent planting of 75 ancient redwood clones in an unmarked location in the Presidio. It’s easy to hike right by them, even if you know where they are, and they don’t look like anything special.

This is a project of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a group that’s conducted several similar plantings worldwide, and these were successfully cloned from five elder remnants in Northern California. One of these was the Fieldbrook stump – a ~3000-year old redwood some 30+ feet in diameter, larger than the General Sherman. It was felled in 1890 to win a bet, after a businessman in the UK wanted a cross-section wide enough to seat 40 dinner guests. The technology to clone these was thought to be impossible until recently.

While hovering in the mud adjusting shots, there was this satisfying dissonance on knowing that these stickly things hold the potential to outlive me and everyone I know at least 40 times over, as well as withstand drought, illness, and massive forest fires to sequester more than 200 tons of carbon dioxide apiece.