Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Prairie Creek Redwoods Part 2

I awoke in the middle of the night, and had some trouble falling back to sleep. It was Christmas morning after all. I was filled with excitement. Not from unopened presents lying under the Christmas tree from Santa Claus, but from undiscovered trails to hike upon!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I couldn't believe it when I checked my car's clock when I awoke in the morning. It was already 9:00. The inside of my vehicle was filled with condensation from sleeping in it. When I opened my car door, there was a terrible racket coming from somewhere near camp. A very strange noise I had never heard before. I assumed it was the elk in a nearby field, but I wasn't so sure. I cooked some oatmeal and looked at mushrooms growing around my campsite.

By the time I finished eating, the noise died down, and I took a short walk to the field where elk often congregate. There was nothing to be seen except dark clouds rolling in from the coast. I walked back to camp, packed up my stuff, and drove to the nearest trail head.

I took the obligatory picture in front of "The Big Tree," a 1500 year old, 305 foot giant. Big, but not nearly as big as the biggest! It started to get dark again as I took the Cathedral Trees loop trail. Eventually it started to sprinkle, and then rain. Oh well, this is a rain forest after all.

The smell of the earth, the orange pine covered trail, the rain was all overwhelming. I yearned to hike off trail, but stayed on the well maintained route. At first the redwoods offered excellent cover from the rain. It didn't take long for huge droplets to fall from the upper boughs. My rain jacket started to get soaked. After an hour or so, I returned to my car, but wanted to see more. I crossed the street and hiked along the Prairie Creek Trail. The forest was simply incredible.

There were several other tourists hiking the trails this Christmas day. At one point I stepped inside a burned out, but still living redwood. There are many of these to be found in these old growth forests. It is pretty common for some of the oldest living trees to be completely hollowed out by fire, hardly a single growth ring to be counted when they fall. While stepping inside, it offered an excellent respite from the rain. I could imagine these trees offered an excellent temporary shelter to any human who lived here long ago. Is it possible that nature provided convenient, practical shelters for humans in these forests without us even having to lift a finger?

The rain really started to come down and I was getting pretty cold and soaked, so I decided to head back to my car. I passed another trail head and couldn't resist trying to hike a little more. I put my rain jacket back on, but by this point I was getting pretty cold. I decided to call it a day, and head south.

I planned on stopping by the Avenue of the Giants on my way home, a couple hours south. I said goodbye to Redwood National Park, turned up the heat in my car, bought some coffee in Eureka, and headed down the 101.

1 comment:

  1. Moss sure seems to grow everywhere in this area you were hiking!