We went for a quick, two night camping trip to Mt. Madonna County Park, in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Watsonville and Gilroy. It was a second annual group trip organized by Cheryl Collett, Rita's friend from high school. The cost of the group campground was prohibitively expensive, so instead, we identified a cul de sac of a loop in one campground and essentially reserved the entire space for ourselves. It was a very well coordinated effort with everyone stepping up to reserve the max of two sites so we could ensure that we 'owned' the space all weekend.
Weather was nice, not hot, in fact, it was tended to be on the chillier side with the marine influence coming from Watsonville keeping us cool and a bit overcast in the morning. And speaking of weather, this was one of the most interesting and vivid examples of redwood trees taking advantage of the local climate.
We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky being able to live where we do, with a local redwood rain forest to escape to within an hour's drive. We have visited many of the redwood state and local parks in northern California and learned a lot about how they live and why they are truly special and live in only certain, limited environments on planet earth. The shape of the leaf of a coast redwood makes it a dew catcher. As the airborne moisture in the form of fog comes through the forest, dew quickly forms on the leaves, gets heavy and drops to the ground. The tree then absorbs that moisture from the wet ground via its roots. In essence, the trees and the forest create their own rain.
We saw firsthand how this works.
Our tent was pitched under a stand of redwood trees. As the afternoon got late and evening arrived, a layer of fog began to blow over the tops of the trees. Some time in the middle of the night, we were awoken to the sound of rain. As we tried to determine if we had left anything out in the elements that should not have gotten wet (I did leave our camera out!), the sound of the rain continued. I went out to rescue the camera but found that there was no rain coming down. It was wet and misty outside, for sure, but it wasn't the downpour that we could hear from inside the tent. The drops continued all night and into the morning sunrise.
After we decided that it was definitely time to get up and out of the tent, knowing full well we would have a wet mess to deal with, we emerged to find, yes, everything around us was wet. Saturated, really. But looking to those areas of the campground that were not under the cover of trees, the ground was dry! It was stark difference between those sites that were under the rain-causing redwood trees and those that were either out in the open or in a rain shadow. One family who were camped in the middle of the campground loop, highlighted by a thick stand of redwoods, were particularly hard hit. They got soaked and their tent leaked. They ended up moving about fifty feet (15 meters) away from the stand of trees to dry out, and stay dry.
It was pretty amazing to see this effect of the redwoods in action, after hearing and understanding it for many years. We definitely make sure that all the kids also realized what had happened: It didn't rain, it redwood dripped!