A Beautiful Day in the Redwoods

28 November 2011 in Trails/Hiking, Traveling

 

DSC_3181After a good stretch of rainy days the sun finally showed it’s shinning face today. It was like an old friend arriving for an unexpected visit. We had no choice but to drop everything and spend the day together. So after our morning rounds and an early lunch we headed over to Jedediah Smith State Park and down Howland Hill Road. This is our favorite road ever. It’s all dirt and one to one and a half lanes wide, but allows for two way traffic with some cautious and courteous driving required. With plenty of winding, sharp and often blind curves you really have no choice but to drive 10-15 mph, but even without these hazards the giant, old growth Redwoods, walls of thick ferns, and moss incased trees are constantly beckoning your attention and slowing your speed. All these factors add up to create an experience that is closer to hiking a trail than it is to driving.

That said there are also several reasons to pull over and put it park, hop out and hike around. And with it being such a beautiful day we did just that. Having been here once before a few weeks ago and hiking two of the three main trails then our goal today was to hike the Mills Creek Trail. Entering these dense forests often produces the effect of being swallowed by nature and taken back in time. Fifteen yards from where you parked you can no longer see your car or have any point of reference to the road. If you were to lead me in another thirty yards blindfolded, spin me around a few times and leave me I could only guess as to which direction I should head to get back. And with the winter crowds or lack there of you come across very few hikers, if any. There are no benches, fences, trail markers, garbage cans, or bathrooms so for all you know you’ve just walked through a secret portal and traveled back in time a million years.

DSC_3152Once the irrational fear of coming across a carnivorous dinosaur subsides you begin to notice the wonders large and small everywhere you look. At first the giant Redwoods command your attention with their humbling size. This is not limited to those still standing. The ones that have fallen often trick you into thinking your approaching a gigantic bridge. Next you might notice the smaller or normal sized trees which are often so blanketed in moss they might be mistaken for huge monster muppets. At any time you expect one to reach out and grab you. Then when you neck tires from craning upward you take a break and look around the forest floor. Here you’ll find such a wide and varying collection of mushrooms you’ll swear that you never saw two that were alike. There are the button shaped mushrooms you might expect in tan, orange, red and brown. There are also delicate brilliantly white mushrooms with features more akin to a flower than to what we expect of mushrooms. Then there are coral shaped mushrooms that look as though they took a wrong turn and accidentally left the ocean. And among all of this wondrous fungi, if you keep an eye out you might even spot a couple of salamanders. The two we saw just happened to be by the coral looking mushroom we were admiring. They had black backs, but bright orange bellies and were very slow moving and very cute.

DSC_3163As we made our way through the forest we eventually came to a bridge with a nice waterfall running below it. Something about a waterfall buried deep in an impenetrable forest transforms your surroundings into a jungle. It must be something in the sound. We had been hiking for well over an hour and we weren’t sure how far the trail went so we decided this would be a good point to turn back. It was also getting to be later in the day and the valley we were in would soon be losing daylight fast.

DSC_3218_warmAfter driving down the rest of Howland Hill Road we found ourselves in Crescent City a little before sunset. We wanted to make the most of our day with our old friend the sun so we thought we’d say goodbye as it departed into the sea. We made our way down to the lighthouse and there we watched the sun wave goodbye. Hopefully she’ll visit us again sometime soon.

28 November 2011 Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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