His Hawaiian honeymoon in the rear-view mirror, Josh joined David in the online search for the knowledge that just may light their way toward their goal. Despite the zeal with which the guardians of the Grove’s secret were protecting their knowledge, clues seemed to be everywhere for those who knew where to look. But as Josh and Fred were to find out, not everything was as it seemed. The truth was being obscured by deliberate falsehoods.
Almost no one had heard of the Grove of Titans before the 2007 publication of The Wild Trees. The most useful clue to the secret Grove’s location comes from this book.
Clue #1: Preston describes the long and painful journey taken by Sillett and Taylor through the heart of the forest, dramatically concluding one chapter near the end of the book with the discovery of the here-to-for unknown Grove. Crucially, he off-handedly mentions that the two tired men caught a ride back to their car, parked miles away on Highway 199, from someone taking a picture of the Stout Tree. Reading between the lines in this chapter, it’s clear the travel-time from the Grove of Titans to Stout Grove is small. Either the titans are near Stout Grove, or near a trail which leads to Stout Grove. This one clue limits the search to trees within close walking distance of the Mill Creek Trail, the Hiouchi Trail, or Stout Grove itself.
Clue #2: Preston had described the Grove as lying at “the bottom of a hidden, notch-like valley near a glade.” Vaden adds on his website, “The Grove of Titans spans the confluence of two valleys. The trees are among flats, slopes and mounds.” With these descriptions in mind, Josh and David scanned topographical maps of the park, marking those locations they believed might fit these vague descriptions, paying special attention to any near Stout Grove and the major trails.
Clue #3: Preston’s account describes a log-choked creek flowing right through the Grove.
Clue #4: Preston describes Steve Sillett as hiking two miles into the Grove. This confused Fred and Josh greatly, as the account makes clear you can get from the Grove of Titans to Stout Grove quickly. Anyone who has hiked in a redwoods rain-forest knows two miles can take a very long time indeed. A typical rate of travel is half a mile an hour through the unyielding underbrush.
Clue #5: Some of Vaden’s online pictures of titans known to be in the Grove of Titans included descriptors like “deep within Jedediah State Park.”
As David and Josh studied their topographical map, key words and phrases buzzed through their minds: near Stout Grove, near a creek, a wide open glade, a confluence of valleys, a notch-like valley, deep within the Park.