The northernmost redwood park I visited this week was Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. There were beautiful trees here, some really massive ancient beings. I loved the Stout Grove, which was packed full of tourists and a bit too crowded for my taste in the morning, but beautifully quiet later in the afternoon. When I had it mostly to myself, I wandered around it for a few hours, just taking it all in. The afternoon light slanting through the trees and down into the ferns was gorgeous.
I also quite enjoyed the banks of the Smith River, which was able to be crossed by footbridges, only in summer. The park ranger we spoke to told us the bridges had only just been put in last week, so we got lucky to be able to complete a hike that included both sides of the river. I hiked 12 miles this day and my friend hiked 16. I got to spend a lot of peaceful solitary time in nature, both gazing up at the trees and later looking out across the river. I found myself a quiet spot and hung out there for awhile, absorbing the peaceful scene. I enjoy hiking, but I also enjoy stopping and resting in nature. It is rejuvenating.
The last time I visited Big Basin, I had not yet learned to shoot with a DSLR and was still taking pictures with my iPhone. High contrast nature scenes, like what you find in a shady forest with dark shadows and bright patches of sunlight, are one of the situations where phone photography falls short. So it was really fun to revisit this park with a real camera. We hiked out and back to Berry Creek Falls. Along the way, we saw blooming redwood sorrel, wake robin, canada violet, star solomon’s seal, and more forest flowers. It’s the perfect time of year for a waterfall hike here, right after the rain, wildflower season in full effect. Big Basin has some of the most beautiful redwood forest in the Bay Area.
I headed up to El Corte de Madera this morning, a park I haven’t been to in awhile. It’s a large park, with almost an overwhelming array of trail choices. First I stopped off on the opposite side of Skyline Blvd and took a look at a 1900 year old tree, aptly named Methuselah. Then I headed into the park. Usually when I go hiking I make a clear plan about what I’m going to do, sometimes with an option to make it shorter if I get worn out. But today I just decided to choose whichever trail seemed more attractive when I came to a junction (and refer to a map of course to make sure there was a plausible way back). I found this quite enjoyable and ended up doing a 6.6 mile loop that took me to see the Tafoni sandstone formation for which the park is known and back to my car in a loop.
I got to thinking about how I tend to choose a loop at a given park and do it over and over again. Nothing wrong with that, but I realized there are a lot of trails I’ve never seen even within parks I have been to many times. So I decided I would start keeping track of the trails I hike on a big paper map I have of the whole area (from Redwood Hikes, by the way, excellent maps) and make an effort to diversify my trail selection. I am probably missing some hidden gems.
Rain makes everything more beautiful. We even had some distant snow-capped mountains today, something I have never seen in the Bay Area before.
I had another computer meltdown that prevented me from posting for a bit, but after a clean windows installation (an interesting experience on a computer that decided I needed no text anywhere to be seen), it seems to be working. I am dubious about how long this will last, but for now it is all good. Unfortunately WordPress’s app doesn’t arrange my photos the way I like them for these posts, so I haven’t figured out a way to post here without my laptop. I do post regularly on Instagram though.
I have been taking pictures though, uploading them and editing them all in LightroomCC on my iPad Pro. Even now that this computer is fixed, I will continue working that way. Editing on the iPad is much more fun and intuitive than on a laptop screen. Some of my favorite photos from the last couple of weeks:
The last park we visited, on the way home from Mendocino, was Hendy Woods, and it was the most awesome of the trip. Hendy Woods is full of old growth giant coastal redwoods! And it was very quiet. Now that I know about this place, it’s definitely where I’m going to take people who want to see big trees and aren’t into strenuous hikes.
It was drier and warmer at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve today than it was last time I went, in September. We haven’t had much rain. A few showers last month, nothing recently. Last year at this time everything was soaking wet and muddy. I hope the rain is just later this year, not absent. Things looked a little dry and dusty, which is something I associate with August, not December. Also, it was warm! In the sunny places I was hot.
I finally made the trip I’ve long meant to make to see the giant Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and it was incredible. I knew they were enormous, but it’s something else entirely to see them in person and imagine the longevity of such creatures that can live thousands of years. Seeing just one of them would be awe-inspiring, but we were able to hike in a large grove where there were hundreds of giants (Redwood Canyon in Sequoia National Park).
I’m almost at a loss for words to describe how moving it was to see them in person. Maybe I just won’t try. Photos:
This is a hike I’ve been meaning to do for some time, it just never panned out. Well, finally made it there on Sunday and did the 14 mile hike to Peters Creek, a remote grove of old growth redwoods. Most of the redwoods around here are new growth as the old ones were cut down for timber. But in some hidden and hard to get to places, you can still find groves of the old growth coastal redwood trees.
The park itself is a long and winding drive on narrow roads uphill and downhill. Hidden down in a deep valley, there is a different kind of atmosphere and landscape here than other parks in the area. Truly magical.
Tomorrow it may rain, and this weekend we fall back, so that’s the end of my after-work hiking for the year. I hate the time change. When I lived in Arizona, that was one of my favorite things- no time changes! In California, I think we should stay on DST all the time. Why does anyone want darker evenings?