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Prairie Creek Redwoods

I saved my favorite for last. We visited Prairie Creek Redwoods twice. The first time, we did a long, 15 mile, hike that started at the visitors center, where we saw the elk herd grazing in a meadow. From there, we took James Irvine to Fern Canyon. Fern Canyon was really cool. Just an unbelievable amount of green there. Then there was a mile of walking along an undeveloped stretch of beach, which was harder than it sounds. The sand was very soft and smooshy, which made every step an effort. Then it was back to the beginning on Miners Ridge. Just a lovely trip all around, with so many different things to see.

The second visit to the park was a shorter hike, but the part I liked the most, which I didn’t really capture in my photos well, was along Prairie Creek itself. The ancient trees there are so enormous and many of them are strange- gnarled and twisted. You get the feeling they must have some real stories to tell. And this park as a whole is very lush and feels quite wild. If there’s anywhere you feel like a dinosaur could appear at any moment, this is it.

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Jedediah Smith Redwoods

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.

 

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Humboldt Redwoods

I just got back from a hiking trip in the redwood forests of Northern California. We visited several parks and I plan to post one entry for each. First off was Humboldt Redwoods State Park, on the way to where we were staying for the week in Arcata. Humboldt reminded me more of Hendy Woods or even Kings Canyon/Sequoia in terms of the way the forests feel. It is more open and dry than the northern parks, with less ferns and more of that stately glowing light I associate with the other redwood forests I have seen. These parks are comprised of forests ofcoast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, unlike the redwoods of the Sierra Nevada which are Sequoiadendron giganteum. Although they are different trees, they have some similarities, notably, their gigantic size and reddish bark.

Humboldt is not on the coast, which probably accounts for much of the difference in the feeling of the forest itself. It seems more open. There is a famous scenic drive through the middle of the park, Avenue of the Giants. This is a pleasant detour from highway 101 and I can’t see ever skipping it when passing by here even if you don’t plan to hike or even get out of the car. The trees are beautiful and impressive and the forest has a wonderful fragrance. It feels more calm and serene than the forests we visited later in the week which seemed truly wild and lush. On this day we did hiked 8 miles.

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Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin

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.

 

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Methuselah and Tafoni

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.

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Russian Gulch State Park

WordPress reminded me today that I have had this blog for two years. When I started it I wasn’t sure how long I would keep it up. I was learning to use my Canon 80D and wanted something to do with the photos aside from posting on facebook. I found I really enjoy keeping this blog. In fact, I briefly switched the title to include Art (and Photos by Kate) thinking I would post some of my artwork too, but found I didn’t want to do that. I like posting the photos and writing a little something about them without much forethought. It’s not a lot of work and it’s relaxing. It gives me an incentive to edit my photos, which is needed. I seem to know a lot of photographers who take a lot of pictures and never really look at them or edit them. Personally I don’t see how you get better if you don’t look at your pictures, but ok 🙂

So I kept this to Bay Area Photos by Kate. I did start an art blog on my real website too, if anyone’s interested. It’s HERE. Not too many people read this or look at it though and perhaps that’s part of the charm. A couple of “likes” a very occasional comment. Not a lot of views. I’m posting these photos pretty much just because I want to and enjoy doing it.

So anyway, here are some more photos from the trip, these are from Russian Gulch State Park which was exceptionally green. There was so much poison oak and such overgrown trails, it’s a miracle I didn’t get it. After a bout with it earlier this year, I would like to never get it again! Horrifying stuff, really. But somehow, possibly by holding my arms in the air going “don’t touch don’t touch don’t touch,” I was spared. It’s a beautiful park with a nice waterfall destination.

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Armstrong Redwoods

The first park we visited on our trip last weekend was Armstrong Redwoods near Guerneville. The hike we did was only about 3 miles, but it was a very attractive 3 miles with a few large trees, a waterfall, and lots of pretty green scenery. It was foggy and very lightly raining, some of the best redwood forest weather.

This park has a good amount of accessible trails which is pretty cool – you can see the big trees even if you’re not into hiking. Of the three hikes we did on the trip, this one had the most people. There was a cute nature store there where I picked up a book and a t-shirt.

It’s good this was a short hike as it was the first one I did after having the flu and I certainly didn’t feel up to my usual level of energy or breathing. But I still enjoyed the scenery and suffered no adverse effects.

If you look closely you can see my friend hugging one of the giant redwoods 🙂

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Mendocino Trip

I have been unable to post lately due to a malfunctioning laptop power source. I just received a replacement and it seems to be working now so we’re back in business. But there’s also a new toy in the mix: I got a 2017 iPad Pro for Christmas and I’m thinking about switching my photo editing to Lightroom CC on the iPad. In any case, it’s nice to have another option. I may write more about this at some point if I figure out a good workflow for my Canon 80D to iPad.

Anyway, last weekend I went on a trip with a friend for my 40th birthday and we went to three lovely parks, Armstrong Redwoods, Russian Gulch State Park and Hendy State Park. I have a lot of photos from the hikes as well as some nice ocean views I’ll share over the next week as I have time. To start with here are some of my favorites from the trip. Giant redwoods and tiny mushrooms. Lovely waterdrops after the season’s first good rain.

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Kings Canyon & Sequoia

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: