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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!


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