Camping in Redwoods Parks....

Awe-inspiring Redwood parks!

These photos were taken in the mile loop Lady Bird Johnson Grove (reached by Bald Hills Rd, a 15% grade), which Lady Bird dedicated in 1968, a quiet, picturesque mature grove, and the impressive Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods St Pk, reached by a narrow, pot-hole-ridden road, and along the South Fork of the Smith River. Smartie liked whizzing around the massive trees, but didn’t care for the massive potholes.

We spent close to two weeks camping in four redwood parks, with no electric or water/sewer hookups, and - eeek, no TV (no problem for us). All our campsites were in the woods, so quiet at night that the loudest noise was one’s own brain clatter. We ate s’mores with a young family at their campsite, cooked “cowboy” coffee each morning on the gas stove, and slept peacefully under three blankets.

At Elk Prairie C/G we were backed up to a babbling brook, easily one of the most soothing sounds on earth. We rode bikes thru the towering trees and hiked forest and ocean paths, always pointing, oohing and aahing. I admired and photographed delicate wildflowers growing humbly at the bases of colossal giants.

Finally on our last day camping at Del Norte Redwoods St Pk, our “house” batteries ran dim, so we moved out of the woods and to a park with electric hookups. Loved living for a bit in the shadow of Sequoia sempervirens (ever living). Only 4% of the ancient old grove redwoods still exist, most in these parks. The rest were logged. Thank God for the 4% left to us to enjoy.

Crescent City CA 5/24/09

Can you spot my face? These rhodie blooms are taller'n me!  The Lighthouse, and Jimmy gazing out to sea.

Drove the few miles into Crescent City a couple of times from Del Norte, for groceries, laundry, and to look around. Stopped one day at the visitor’s center with its lovely rhododendrons and fragrant native azaleas, and waited for low tide to walk to Battery Point Lighthouse, but it was closed this day. We snapped a few pics anyway. Drove north to the outskirts of town and parked, but we simply could not stay to walk about the headlands; the cold Pacific Ocean wind whips up and over these lands like gangbusters!  The wind chill was way too uncomfortable for us to hang around.

Very nice town, but you better be on high ground if a strong earthquake rattles anywhere. (remember 1964‘s tsunami?)  It devastated this city.

Klamath River Overlook

Where the Klamath meets the Pacific!

Left: Jimmy on the spur trail. Middle: Overlook can be seen if you enlarge it!) Right: Made it to the overlook!

We took a side trip to the Klamath River overlook, 600’ above the estuary at the Klamath River’s mouth and decided to walk down the spur trail leading to another overlook 200’ above the ocean... which seemed like a good thing, and it was, till the next morning when we woke up with aching hip joints and leg muscles (sigh…)! I fell in love with all the blossoms along the way. Lots of salmonberry in bloom, lots of potential fruit. Jimmy side-stepped a dinky brown sneaky-snake on the path, no harm done. We could hear the sea lions honking from the overlook and watched sea birds far below dive for fish. The 400’ ascent was, uh, grueling. We stopped to snap pictures (or breathe) several times on the way up - the views all around were breath-taking!

Prairie Creek Redwoods St Park 5/21/09

With just an overnight stay in Prairie Creek Redwoods St Pk, we managed to get in a couple of hikes! Roosevelt elk hang around and graze in the expansive meadow alongside the parkway in front of Elk Prairie C/G, mostly females and calves (born in May and June). Deer like it here, too. Banana slugs the size of a big man’s index finger inch along at their own pace everywhere in the redwoods. We thought about racing two of them, but didn’t… and you do not want to step on one. Friday morning, we set off on a 2½ mile stroll thru shady forest on the Cathedral Trail. These trees are truly unbelievable. Even the upended root-ball from a fallen giant is a work of art.


Patrick's Point 5/20/09

(click on any photo to enlarge)

Today we hiked! Around the park and up to the Visitor Center in the morning, stopping now and again for birds and flowers (amazing trilliums, much bigger than the ones in your yard, Nannie!). In the afternoon we "did" a mile of the rim trail, which had three pretty darned steep, quarter-mile trails that connected the rim trail to the rocky shore. Up and down - hoy! In the middle photo below you can see Jimmy atop Wedding Rock (king of the castle!), and on the right is the "castle" we hiked to from a different vantage point.

Waves crashing on shore far below were a perfect lullaby for our tired bodies. We slept well (like dead people) both nights, notwithstanding Rocky Raccoon tap dancing (or disco dancing) on our ROOF in the middle of the night! Varmint climbed the ladder on the back of the RV. Jimmy shagged it the first night; my turn the following night. We left Rocky and friends the next day to head further north, leaving them to the next campers....

Oops, there goes another harbor seal now!

Going, going, gone! Kersplash! We were watching each other. Tide was on the rise and the seal would soon be washed off its bed of mussels. It yawned and inched its way to the water. And then it disappeared beneath the cold Pacific off Patrick's Point....

Patrick's Point St Pk 5/19/09

30 miles north of Eureka, a tree- and meadow-covered headland juts into the Pacific: Patrick’s Point State Park, with a shoreline that ranges from the broad sandy stretch of Agate Beach to sheer cliffs that rise 150’ above the sea. We “stumbled upon” this park, lucky for us ‘cause it was a grand spot to camp. We enjoyed hiking down to the water for a long stroll and looking for agates (found some), and poking around in the tide pools at low tide.


Founder's Grove, Humboldt Redwoods St Pk, Sat 5/16/09

Such an awesome place, really and truly!

This massive tree will not be a pushover. Examining the root system of a fallen giant.

Left: Jimmy standing halfway down the fallen Dyerville Giant, which stood for as long as 1600 yrs, and was at least 362' when it fell on March 24, 1991: Two feet taller than Niagara Falls! It's 17' in diameter, 32' in circumference, and prob weighs over 1,000,000 lbs. Standing at the root end, we couldn't see all the way down the trunk. Unless fire consumes it, the Dyerville Giant will continue to lie on the forest floor for many hundreds of years, fulfilling an important role in the healthy life of an ancient forest, and as the decay process gains hold, it will become host, home, and food source to over 4000 kinds of plants and animals that will live on or in it.

Walking through these glorious, silent sanctuaries of old-growth forests, lit by filtered beams of sunlight, carpeted in verdant moss, fern and sorrel, feels like being in an ancient Cathedral, asking nothing except our awe.


Friday bike ride in the redwoods! 5-15-09

(L) Because redwood trees flare at the base, the giants were cut 10-15 ft above ground level, which meant less work for loggers. Springboards were inserted into notches cut in the trees for use by fellers standing on them to make undercuts and saw cuts 3’ or more above ground level. (M) Over the centuries, these ancient redwoods have been through many forest fires and survived. The (inner) heartwood would burn, leaving hollowed-out centers... some large enough to drive a car through, others big enough to park a bicycle or two. These hollow centers are called "goose pens," because early settlers used to house chicken and geese in them!

L: Shoulder physical therapy - push that stump up! M: Posing at the edge of the South Fork of the Eel River. R: Jimmy looking into a goose pen of a strange-looking redwood. We have quite a few photos of goofy-looking burls. The forest floor was carpeted in green - ferns, redwood sorrel (oxalis) - and tiny star-shaped pink or white, blue or purple wildflowers, all simply stunning. Every time I looked up at the tree canopy my sunglasses fell off the top of my head. Simply made my head swim! From floor to sky: WOW!