California Pinecones Loom Large

Pine Cone in California Sierra dwarfs the rider's size 14 shoe.

The Sierra of California are typified by vast tracts of coniferous forests, for several reasons. First, there is not alot of moisture available, and conifers spew out less moisture in the midsummer heat than broad leafy hardwoods. Second, when the granite rock weathers, the soil is fairly poor in nutrients--the results of granite weathering is pretty close to beach sand-- which again tilts the scale in favor of needle based trees. In any case, the Sierra have that wonderful pine pitch smell which is so hard to beat when you are riding. Only the dense musty smell of the Kentucky hollers rivals it.

Well, as fans of the Redwoods and Sequoia groves know, these trees can get pretty big. Big trees make big cones...and big cones get noticed by big riders with big feet. Another reason why, even though a good rider should have his head up and heart afloat, it pays to keep a glance down low for what nature has dropped for us to see. I use smaller pine cones as 'scrubbies' to wash my pots and pans. Big guys like this one also make excellent secondary kindling.