July 6th-July 8th
We had a pretty long drive between Lassen Volcanic NP and the Redwoods NP on the northern California coast so we broke the day up with a couple of interesting stops. First, we stopped in Redding, a large town on the Sacramento River, to see the Sundial Bridge. The website describes it as a functional work of art, and that it is, with its enormous span made of steel, glass and granite. We tried to catch a glimpse of a river otter from the trail, but no luck. Our next stop was in the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity Recreation Area, a big name for a big lake. We went for a swim with the ducks (yes, it was hot!) and picnicked there. Then we stopped in Weaverville, a charming little gold rush town, which was well decorated for the 4th of July.
After a long day (that started with a run), we finally arrived in Redwoods NP. It was a foggy 60 degrees when we stopped at the Kuchel Visitor’s Center in the southern part of the park. Just as we were parking, we saw a bear feeding in the meadow across the highway. We were in a hurry to get camping information before the center closed, so we missed out on getting a picture. There was little chance of getting a site in a public campground, so we chose a place near Klamath, California. We were surprised to have a private, wooded site for less money than the state parks. We were exhausted from the long drive, and finished the evening with a couple of beers.
The following morning, we started early so that we could fully take advantage of seeing these incredible trees. We took the scenic parkway to Elk Prairie where we saw Roosevelt elk grazing in the meadow. After chatting with a park ranger, we decided to do an 11-mile roundtrip hike to the coast. The hike took us through beautiful stands of Redwood trees, relatives to the Giant Sequoias but even taller. We gazed up through the dense canopy, awe-stricken, towards the tops of these mammoth trees. We finally arrived to the beach, a long stretch of white, sandy beach named Gold Bluffs after the gold they found there more than a century ago. We walked about a mile up the beach to catch another trail back through Fern Canyon. This lush green canyon feels like something directly out of J.R. Tolkien novel. We hopped across the river on strategic logs until we picked up the main trail which we followed back to Elk Prairie. It was both exhausting and rewarding. On the drive back to the campground, we saw a crowd of people gathered on the side of a small bridge over Klamath River. We stopped and watched for a moment, not understanding what the excitement was about. Then we saw a gray whale and her calf surface. Apparently, they had swum through the channel a week before and were having difficulties getting back out to the ocean. Though we were delighted to have a chance to watch such magnificent creatures, I truly hope they found a safe and effective solution to putting them back on course. We passed our campground and took the coastal road for a couple of miles which had some beautiful views of the Klamath channel and coastline before heading back to the campground and resting our weary bodies.
Our final morning in the park we woke up to the omnipresent fog. We took a hot shower, packed up and started the drive with a scenic lookout over the ocean. It was cloaked in such a thick fog, we could barely make out what was 20 feet in front of us. We hoped that the sun would break through for our drive up the Oregon Coast. Our last stop was in Jedediah Smith State Park at the famous Stout Grove. The drive to get there was on a narrow dirt road and we encountered several vehicles that were having trouble navigating it. We did a short interpretative trail though this grove of giants which left us with a feeling of awe and admiration for the mighty Redwoods.
Next destination: the Oregon Coast and Coos Bay
Tags: BIG TRIP 2011, California, In English 2005-2006