Steinbeck didn’t live to see the work of a team of tree-climbing scientists who have now photographed two of the largest trees in the world: The President, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park featured in the breathtaking video above; and, in 2009, a coast redwood in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Redwoods are spiritual beings to me; the redwood forest is my cathedral. When I need to get in touch with the universe, I go find a redwood. There is a little grove of coast redwoods in Bidwell Park within walking distance of my house; they were brought here as seedlings from Arcata. I visited the coast redwoods and the sequoias several times as a child and have returned many times as an adult. It’s like a pilgrimage to Mecca.