United States tagged posts

Land of the giants

The world’s largest trees have survived for more than 3,000 years, but their futures lie in human hands.  

Pierdelune

They are the giants of nature; the skyscrapers of Mother Earth. In Sequoia National Park, some 8,000 giant sequoias rise firmly from the forest floor and branch out at a height of up to 80 metres. Only by placing humans next to their roots can one really fathom their size. The species is not the world’s tallest tree type. Nor is it the widest or oldest. But by trunk volume, it is the biggest.

The giant sequoia grows fast and lives long. As they expand, they produce an estimated 40 cubic feet of wood per year. Most are believed to be between 1,800 and 2,700 years old...

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Into the wild

In July last year, a ‘bear cam’ was set up in Alaska to livestream bears hunting for food. But it does not compare to the real experience.

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When you have trekked into the wild and find yourself standing close to a giant bear, there are a few things you should remember. Firstly, that these are among the wild’s most dangerous creatures. Note that they are excellent swimmers, frighteningly intelligent, with a better sense of smell than dogs. They can weigh up to 680kg. Think you can run away? Forget it: in short bursts, bears can run up to 65 kilometres per hour (40 miles). “These are wild animals, and you need to really respect that,” says John Quinley, assistant regional director at Katmai National Park, in southern Alaska. “You don’t want to sneak out a sandwich in front of them...

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Catching the Wave

In one of America’s great wilderness areas, a stream of smooth, curvy outlines are etched into the mountainside. They call it the Wave.

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The US has always been spoilt with mesmerising rock canyons, but none of them are quite like this one. Just north of the famous Grand Canyon, near the border between Arizona and Utah, wavy lines have been carved into rock by the passage of time. It looks like some kind of caramel swirl: the way it contains several colours; the way it tweaks its way around bends and corners.

Unlike many other natural sights around the world, where unregulated tourism and an overload of visitors put the attraction itself at risk, the authorities are wary of jeopardising the health of their talismanic site. Only 20 people are allowed to visit it each day...

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The rocks that move

On a dry lakebed in California’s Death Valley, stones weighing up to 300kg zip across the surface without human intervention. Despite 60 years of study, geologists are still unsure why.

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Ever since the first scientific paper on it was published in 1948, the Racetrack Playa, a smooth desert floor in Death Valley National Park, has had geologists scratching their heads. With irregular frequency, sometimes every third or fourth year, giant rocks travel inexplicably across the surface; some in straight lines, others in zig-zag patterns; others, again, across a certain distance, before turning 180 degrees and continuing in another direction. The evidence is there to see; each rock leaves a deep trail along the desert floor. But no one has ever seen them move.

The surrounding environment – Dea...

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