Sunday, April 22, 2012

Humboldt Redwood State Park

 I finally made it back to Humboldt Redwood State Park to do a little more redwood exploring. We've gone from winter to summer in a week here in Northern California. That beautiful, blue, California summer sky has returned along with temperatures nearing 90 degrees. It was a little cooler in the redwood forest, but noticeably warmer than my last few visits.

 I had a couple goals in mind, to find the "Spirit Tree," a redwood albino, and to comb another section of forest for giants. Both goals were completed, however a price had to be paid. The trip started with doing a quick measurement of a Ponderosa Pine growing off highway 101 near Laytonville. I fell into a ditch filled with water before getting that measurement.

 While looking for the "Spirit Tree," I noticed poison oak growing everywhere. It took a while to find it, along with a healthy dose of poison oak across my face, ears, and neck. It's just now starting to itch and blister. In fact, I seem to have had a steady dose of poison oak for the last month and a half or so. As soon as one patch clears up, I head back into the forest and receive another dose. Then, a little while later, I tripped and thought I broke my leg. That story is described below. Who says we don't suffer for our art?

 Despite those few setbacks, it was another excellent outing. Giant trees were abundant. Rivers were running full and swift. I decided to stealth camp once again under the redwoods. Last night was pitch black. Thank God I remembered my headlamp. There was just a sliver of light from the slightly less black midnight blue sky with a couple stars peering above the canopy. Otherwise, complete and total darkness. I realized last night that I am uncomfortable in that kind of darkness. In fact, I think I am scared of the dark. Scared of getting attacked in the dark is more like it. Perhaps that's why I always prefer camping on the top of mountain ridges where I can see the sky and valleys below in the middle of the night. I woke up in the middle of the night and was trying to piece together what phase of the moon we are in. There was no moon. I just checked the calendar and last night was the New Moon. No wonder!

There is nothing like waking up and looking at the tops of the redwoods draped in early morning fog. I brought my binoculars and spent some time lying on my back peering into the upper canopies in my sleeping bag.
 I found a couple of rare 50 foot cbh trees. The tree above is actually a double tree. As you can see, the tree splits about 20 feet up. It's a massive wall of wood regardless. Throughout the morning, I heard the birds that sound like a whistle at a sporting event. I'm not sure what they are.
What an amazing earth on which we live. Happy Earth Day everyone!

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