Hiking, Swinging Over a Creek, and Visiting a Toppled 1,000 yr old Advocate Tree in Aptos, CA

After my story of the uprooted 30 ft. Aleppo tree in our gated community appeared in the Los Gatos Times Observer, I forwarded it to Kathleen O’Malley, an Aqua Yoga fitness instructor at BayClub, Courtside. Like myself, Kathy is a devoted nature lover. She emailed me a photo along with a note to let me know that at the moment she received my news item, she was at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, CA. She was at the site of the 1,000 year old "Advocate Tree," that had toppled during the winter storms. I decided I had to go see it for myself and pay my respects to this grand daddy of old-growth redwoods. So I recruited my friend Jimi Hunter to join me.

Jimi and I made several attempts to find the fallen remains of The Advocate Tree by following the map (poorly, I may add) given to us by the ranger at the entrance to the park. We retraced our steps, crossed wooden bridges, and climbed over other fallen tree limbs. I even slid off a long slippery log into the creek—landing partially on my right lower extremity—while trying to get to the the other side. Fortunately my cell phone camera in my left pant pocket didn't get wet. It's been said that Sometimes you have to make a wrong turn before you find your way. My wife Cecile will tell you that's the story of my life:-). It turns out Jimi is as geographically challenged as I am. But perserverance paid off and we found the giant redwood.

Before it fell from grace, The Historic Advocate Tree, was an old growth coastal redwood, more than 250 feet tall and measuring 45 feet in circumference. The majestic tree was named after a conservation group, responsible for the maintenance and improvements of the nearly 10,000 acre park including 30 miles worth of walking trails. The climb to the top of the massive 20 ft. root structure that was completely upended was somewhat daunting, especially for someone like myself who has a bit of phobia about heights.

The Advocate Tree had a colorful past. It was around during the time of the Anasazi (“Ancient Ones”) cliff dwellers, believed to be ancestors of the moden Pueblo Indians. It was alive when Genghis Khan ruled Mongolia; when Joan of ark was burned at the stake; while William of Normandy invaded England; when the Spanish Conquistadors conquered the Americas, during the African Slave Trade, The Salem Witch Trials, The American Revolution and the Civil War. 

According to a local resident, he had heard the colossal tree topple over in a resounding crash that shook him to his core on Monday, January 9, 2017. When we got to the site, there it lay—broken into several monumental sections. I now understood why locals were saddened, feeling as if they had lost an old and faithful friend.