Grow Big

You need to see the big pines in the San Gabriels.

a beautiful Ponderosa on the nature trail next to Big Pines Visitor Center… you can find it by its puzzle piece bark and sweet butterscotch fragrance… go ahead, put your nose on it, you’ll understand

“Big Pines” is a spot up the 2 near Wrightwood, CA, and it’s name is entirely apt — for So Cal standards, these pines are seriously big. The sugar pine, white fir, and incense cedar are among the largest naturally growing trees you’ll find in Los Angeles County. To top it off, there’s even sequoias brought in from the Sierra Nevada dotting the landscape, which grow to be the largest trees on earth.

There are big trees all over the San Gabriel Mountains, and big trees inspire.

me exploring the big pines on the Big Horn Mine trail

Standing next to one of these giants is one of the most awe inspiring yet grounding experiences available to us. Think of it, a living thing, literally larger than life, moving, growing, breathing, right next to you. Us people, we only get to see one small part of this world — we see whatever limited subsection we’re lucky enough to explore. But these trees, they get to see and feel the earth change, for centuries. They watch generation after generation of humans come and go, alter the landscape, build and destroy. They stand in stately groves as motorcycles speed by, backpackers trek through, children play, and parents unwind in the shade. They feel the air choke from our over development, they feel the earth warm as a result.

the nature trail at Big Pines, with a stately Sequoia on the right, with it’s soft red bark and long fingery needles

Big trees don’t make us feel small from merely size, they make us feel small because they’re timeless. These days they’re as close as we get to ancient mystics and wise elders. They gift a direct example of resiliency, fortitude, and bravery. We can only hope to leave a legacy as tall and majestic as these big trees. They are everything we each individually hope to be, and if we listen to their story, they’ll teach us exactly how to be it.

the big pine views at the top of the Kratka Ridge… Los Angeles is down there somewhere under the June gloom

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**Urban Disconnection is a project of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument/Angeles National Forest Artist in Residence program, with the goal of inspiring Angelenos to explore, enjoy, and protect our majestic backyard.