The first time I ever set foot in the redwood forest there was a single word that kept popping into my head. It was almost monomaniacal. As I ran along the unmarked trail I’d randomly found by the side of the road, giddy, with an excited, jackass grin on my face (it was already after 5:00 pm in early spring and I had no tripod and almost as much daylight left), I kept repeating it over and over to myself. If I’d have passed anyone on the trail they would’ve thought I was insane. The word was “Endor.” The forest moon wherein dwelt the cuddly Ewok race. I couldn’t believe it. The battle to blow up the shields that protected the rebuilt Death Star took place not too far from where I would periodically pause to take my photos. Of which not a single one came out clear, but it didn’t matter. The Galactic Empire had been defeated, and only a few Ewoks had been lost in the process.
And there was peace again in the galaxy.
Of all the places I’ve been in America, for some reason, the redwood forest feels like nowhere else. I grew up in the city, without a real forest anywhere within a thousand miles of me, but I instantly felt a sense of belonging among the redwoods. Maybe it’s the size of the trees, maybe it’s their age, maybe it’s their texture, their plurality, maybe it’s that you won’t find a single tree that even remotely resembles another upon close inspection, maybe it’s the cool, stable humidity, maybe it’s the proximity to the ocean, I don’t know. But unlike the majestic places you’ll find on the Colorado Plateau (the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, etc.), along the Great Divide (Rocky Mountain National Park, The Grand Tetons) or in the Sierra Nevada (Yosemite National Park, King’s Canyon), the feeling is more than visually-based. You’re ensconced. You feel it with your entire body. You’ve got a roof over your head, the walls are hundreds of feet tall and every last inch of the place feels alive. Because it is.
As is the case with many landscapes–just as it is with the constraints of sound and devices of rhythm that we call ‘music’–using words to describe it can never do it justice. And often, neither can a photograph. I hope that people get pleasure from viewing the pictures I take, but I always know that no amount of pleasure derived from a two dimensional image can ever replicate the sense of standing in the place yourself, breathing the air it yields, experiencing it all with every one of your senses and feeling every single emotion that results in the process.