Sunday, August 5, 2012

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

 I spent more time this weekend exploring Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I've wondered how many days it would take a person or person's to explore every nook and cranny of this park. Thankfully, visiting about once a month, there is still plenty of land to explore and trees to visit.
 Climbing rope tied to branch extending into the tree's canopy (above)
My trip began Friday afternoon after working on the coast. After stopping in Ft. Bragg for dinner and groceries, I slowly made my way up the coast. It was a real treat to make my way towards Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the late afternoon, instead of the morning like I usually do.
 I arrived at my destination just before sunset and backpacked to my usual stealth camping spot. It wasn't long before I heard the sounds of the frogs croaking in the creek. I watched bats flying over the creek eating insects, executing some incredible feats of flight in the process. After quickly setting up camp, the sun went down and I began drifting off to sleep. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot of things falling. Leaves, twigs, small branches. I kept waking up to the sensation of debris falling from above onto my tarp. I'm beginning to wonder if it's even possible to have a restful night's sleep in the redwoods.
 For the most part, I did sleep pretty well. At one point in the middle of the night, I woke up to a full moon rising above the creek. I had to wonder how often the full moon can be seen in these woods, with no fog to block the view. The redwoods were glowing in the moonlight, especially the trees with the light toned bark. It  looked really cool. It almost looked like someone had a spotlight in the woods, shining the light upwards into the canopy. If only my camera could capture the moment.
 I began my day around 6:30 am and began exploring the forest for big trees where I left off last time. The largest tree of the day was a 46 foot cbh (circumference breast height) tree that I found around noon. A spectacular tree. Above, is a 48 footer, but since it's two trees mashed together, I don't count it. A fantastic twin though.
 The weather was a little peculiar Saturday. At points, it looked like it was going to rain, and it was really warm and humid in spots. After lunch, I had a raging headache, I think due to straining my neck and looking up in different directions all morning. I made sure I was well hydrated, so I knew it wasn't dehydration.
 This particular section of forest had a lot of visitors. I found that somewhat amusing. To me, this place seemed more remote or mysterious than other places I have been where I have not seen anybody all day.
 I was visited by the late afternoon blues on Saturday. I was planning on spending another night, but decided to call it a trip. Tick and poison oak fears had entered my mind, and I was craving a shower and a good night's rest. Besides, I'd rather have more territory to explore for next month's trip.
Just a couple of observations: I heard someone recently compare the silence in the redwood forest to the woods after a snowfall. I think that is a very good comparison. The hushed silence in the redwood forest is one of it's endearing qualities. It is very much like the woods after a snowfall. I noticed it on Saturday when I was hiking along the trail 75 feet or so above the forest floor. As the trail began to descend onto the flood plain, the hushed silence took over and was more noticeable.
Also, where I was hiking, there doesn't tend to be a lot of automobile traffic. However, from time to time, there are trucks that make their way down the pot hole covered road. The banging sound from these trucks is incredible. In the redwoods, the sound carries and echoes as if the trucks were driving in a concert hall.
I have no idea what these trucks look like, but the sound is the same every time. It just sounds so different in the forest.
 Founder's Grove (above)
 Eel River looking towards Founder's Grove (above)
Part of me wonders if there ever will be a day when automobiles are banned from the "Avenue of the Giants." Imagine only being able to walk, hike, bicycle, or ride a horse into the groves. Perhaps a periodic shuttle bus. Then the silence could be restored.

Overall, another memorable redwood experience.

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