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.


Two hands holding a rover rock full of embedded fossils.
Two bikes at a trailhead beginning under a river bridge.
Two people walk a dog along a river bank at low tide, full of many small rocks, sticks, and other detritus.
Small crinoid fossil sitting on a dried autumn leaf, amid sticks, stones, and other leaves on the river shore.
Ten crinoid fossils of various shape and form, sitting on a weathered river log.
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So I went fossil hunting recently, a slow and muddy meditation best done before hunting season, when the river is at its lowest.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

Sixty species of crinoids thrived here some 340 million years ago, when the flatland was a warm inland sea, and their stone bodies crunch underfoot along with the shale and limestone and odd bits of driftwood. They are so numerous that children collect pieces of their stems to string and wear, or stack them in patterns on fallen-tree flotsam by the shore. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

After a long afternoon focused intently on the ground, the day’s finds began to grow heavy in my pack. I sat down to adjust and in comparison felt oddly light, as if these cast grey things and their history were a physical context to my own body, a gravity of geological time made visceral, the weight of accumulated millennia beginning to cramp one small and insignificant set of human shoulders.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

I sat there for a long time, while hawks circled above and the river chattered as it has always done. Then without another thought, began to empty the bag into the water, returning these forms to time and the currents. The sun was setting in sharp fiery spears beyond the trees, before disappearing seconds later to drop the valley into a sublime dusk blue. And with empty hands I remembered that I too am some brief blazing thing, as is all of human history with its feedingfuckingfighting, and for this sense of transience I am ever grateful.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

Breathe. It’s always just been an eyeblink.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

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(Video is fifty-five seconds of ASMR over calibrated brown noise.)