Trinidad, CA – A Slice of Coastal Heaven

13 10 2016

My visit with Jason Self and Shay Bickley in Trinidad, California, was more than hikes among Redwood giants and herds of Rossevelt Elk. The region sports some of North America’s most spectacular coastlines!


Near Crescent City

Foggy and rugged, thickly forested, and impacted by frequent Pacific storms, this coast shows off when the sun pops out. Highway 101 passes through this region, tracing its line along surf beaches, through dark redwood forest, climbing to 800-ft above the sea before opening up to spectacular unlimited vistas dotted with sea stacks.

We spent a sunset hiking along the beach, and another afternoon walking to a point high above the waves. No matter what route you pick, rewards are rich.


Man’s Best Friend waits for his family to come in.

One evening we took a pre-dinner stroll along the shore near the Moonstone Grill, a terrific restaurant with an unmatched Pacific View. It was surreal. No wind and calm seas. So beautiful!



The incoming tide was mesmerizing. I could look down on the wavy sand, and see, with each passing wave, how the water was navigating its way further and further ashore. We found a few stranded sea creatures and set them back into the ocean, much to Shay’s delight.

The following day was to be our paddle on the bay. Days here often dawn in a pea soup fog, but most of the time, that fog loses out the the sun by mid day.

On paddle day, there was barely any fog at sun up.

We breakfasted, loaded the boats on the cars, and partially donned out dry suits. Then it was time to head to the bay.

The town of Trinidad leads to a peninsula – with beaches on the NW and SW sides. On this day the swell was coming in from the NW.


The sea laid down for us!


Shay readies the P&H Delphin.


We launched on the protected SW side – which, I’ve got to say, had become an undulating lake! We got maybe a mile or one and a half miles down the shore, paddling amongst sea stacks and harbor seals, before the swells were bigger, and I could see waves crashing against rocks. Even with the small seas, they were quartering from behind, and I got a weird feeling like the sea was a magnet, and I wanted to fall in. Jason said it was a touch of vertigo. I have had vertigo sensations before, but never at sea, and I’ve never been sea sick. Turning around, facing the swell, completely reversed that feeling.


A bay of kelp and harbor seals. And, as Jason says, sharks.


We checked out the sea stacks, rocks, and took a “stroll” along a cliff face. There, we found murrelets, more seals, and a couple of otters! One otter came out of a little cave. Another had caught a fish, and was hurriedly eating, as if it were concerned a rival might try to steal its catch.


And Jason LOVES his recently acquired P&H Hammer, but not having his photo taken! It was a memorable day on the big P. I hope to visit again!

Northern California Coast: Walking Among Redwoods

6 10 2016

In September I had a 5-day span between work shifts, so I decided to visit Jason and Shay, friends from Portland who moved down to Trinidad California a few years back. They now live in God’s Country – with access to breathtaking coastal scenery and unlimited access to Redwood National Park.

The time down there would be spent beach combing, kayaking, sampling the local cuisine, and walking beneath some of the world’s tallest trees. In this post I’ll cover the redwoods. Next post – the coast.

It’s an 8-hour drive from Portland. The part on I-5 is definitely a slog, but once you cut over to the coast, it’s a treat.


Highway 199 tracks along the Smith River, famous for fishing, scenery, and rafting. It wends its way right through Redwood National Park. Not long after passing an information center, the giant trees emerge – the highway passing within a few feet of them. It’s impossible to just yawn. No, gaping is the reaction.

Coastal redwoods live to about 2,000 years and reach 380 ft high. They dwarf anything in Oregon. These forests also are the world’s most alive. They have Planet Earth’s greatest volume of living matter per surface area. Everything is growing. And, they are very valuable. The Yurok Native American tribe depended on the redwood groves for everything. But then white folks from back east showed up. Back in the days when people thought America’s natural resources were inexhaustible, big money brought industrialized logging to Humboldt County. Giant Redwoods were no match for the steam engines and trucks that came. State parks and the national parks were established to help preserve a national treasure. Later, on some of the private lands nearby, near violence erupted between environmentalists and capitalists seeking to harvest every last old-growth tree.

Taken together, the coast itself and the redwoods make this a place worth visiting!



Walking in the groves inevitably leads to thoughts of The Lord of the Rings. I wondered if J.R.R. Tolkien was thinking about the redwoods when he created the Ents? You can almost hear the trees talking amongst themselves here! Making decisions very slowly, but always wisely.

If the trees are Ents, the deer are Roosevelt Elk. Driving hwy 101, you need to keep an eye peeled at every blind corner because there could be 40 elk in the road!


Hello! A herd with a nice bull, who was watching over his band of females and their young.

The bull did indeed indulge in bugling. And sniffing his ladies to determine if they were in season.

All for the people in their slowed-down or stopped cars to watch. This herd seemed well adapted to gawkers.












It’s a family thing!

In sum, I’ll have to return! A beautiful area to visit. Next post we’ll get into coastal walks and paddling!