- Hyperion is a 380-foot redwood tree in Northern California.
- Once it was ‘discovered,’ it became a destination for eager hikers.
- Now, the area is off limits because of the potential damage caused by overvisitation.
So much for secrets.
In 2006, the world’s tallest tree was “discovered” in Redwood National Park in Northern California. Coinciding with the nascent boom in tourism for social media’s sake, the draw of finding — and posting photos of — the tree has been impossible for many adventurers to resist.
The problem is that the tree, named Hyperion, isn’t accessible by the park’s official trails, meaning anyone in search of an Insta-worthy pic is forced to “bushwhack,” carving their way through thick vegetation in the manner that used to be associated with explorers discovering the Amazon.
In other words, we’re not meant to be there.
Now, the cumulative effects of overvisiting have wrought havoc in the surrounding area. SFGate.com reported last week that the immediate grounds around Hyperion have degraded and that ferns no longer grow nearby because of all the trampling.
Even worse, Leonel Arguello, the park’s chief of natural resources, told SFGate that “[t]here was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste — it’s not a good thing, not a good scene.”
Park officials are now ratcheting up their attempts to preserve the area around Hyperion by declaring it officially off-limits — to the tune of a $5,000 fine and a potential six-month jail sentence for anybody caught near the giant redwood.
Overtourism in nature and wilderness areas has been an increasing problem globally due in part to the pandemic-friendly outdoors being an ideal choice after enduring stretches of lockdown.
In one particularly stark example, Adventure Journal reported recently that 145 people reached the summit of K2, the world’s second-largest mountain, in one day. Before this month, only 500 climbers had ever made it to the top in the mountain’s history.