California Coast

Mile 4726 – 5071

California Border – Albion, CA

October 4 – October 7, 2010

There’s not a lot to say about the Coastal Redwoods of California.  Or, rather, the photographs can probably speak better than I can.  Even so, it’s hard to really show the scale of these enormous trees in photos – the ferns at their bases are often over 5 feet tall, and without other trees around, it’s easy to believe that I’m simply walking through old-growth oaks!

Along the trail in Jedediah Smith State Park

Driving into California from the north, coming down the Redwood Highway into Smith River National Recreation Area, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the Sequoia sempervirens, or Coast Redwood.  I kept thinking, “Over in the distance, that’s a big tree, maybe that’s one!”  Apparently during my seven years’ absence from California I forgot what a redwood looks like… because when I finally rounded a corner and found myself looking at one, it was unmistakable.  And almost scary – imagine driving down the highway at 70 mph and finding yourself face-to-face with a tree whose base is bigger than a semi truck!

Burls on a redwood - they are excellent at healing themselves. Note "small" (i.e., normal-sized) trees in foreground.

This tree suffered damage at some point and re-sprouted from half-way up its trunk, though the main tree also continued growing.

Redwood roots live a long time - trees that die above-ground often resprout around the old stump, forming "fairy rings" around an empty center once that stumps rots away.

Redwood roots poking up along the trail. New stems can sprout from these roots, quite a distance from the parent tree.

I spent an afternoon at Jedediah Smith State Park, hiking down the Boyscout Tree Trail, so named for the tree that was featured in a mid-century photo with thirty boyscouts posed in front of its massive base.  That night, I camped in a second-growth woods above the Pacific Ocean in Redwoods National Park, just south of the Klamath River.  The following day I hiked at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, down to Fern Canyon and the Pacific Ocean, through several different ecosystems and with impressive wildlife displays!  I

Fern Canyon

Klamath River meets Pacific Ocean

camped at Big Lagoon, before continuing my drive down the coast along Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  After an early dinner and beer sampler at North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg, I watched the sun set on the coast, and then continued down to Oakland for a week of Bay Area visits.

Banana Slug on mushroom

This tree was burned many, many years ago but continues to grow healthily upwards!

Ouch! I'm glad I wasn't there when this one fell...

Check out this massive bull elk for perspective... and check out the next post to hear about my encounter with him!

Up in the hills, a little too far inland for the Coast Redwoods


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