Days 4 and 5 –Exploring the forests of gigantic redwoods in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and Redwoods National Park consumes our attention. Although towering redwoods are all around us, we want a remote experience and get a permit to hike the Tall Trees Trail. Turning off Bald Hill Road, we drive seven miles up a gravel road to the trailhead. Although the trail is only 1.3 miles to the grove of ancient redwoods, its steep slope proves to be a workout. Fog drifts through the forest. Capturing the magnificence of these huge, old growth trees in photos or words is impossible. You must come and walk under them to truly experience their grandeur.
The Tall Trees Grove sits along Redwood Creek, where we settle on a gravel spit to eat our packed lunch. A doe and her two fawns graze nearby. The interpretive trail guide informs us with intriguing details. The settlers, for example, called the redwoods’ hollowed out trunks (usually caused by fire) “goose pens” because they used them to shelter their small farm animals. And loggers called the huge branches (big as average tree trunks) that broke off and dropped 200 feet from above “widow makers.”
My favorite stretch winds under the big leaf maples and bay laurel trees growing among the redwoods. Thick green moss sheaths their trunks, and their branches twist into pretzel shapes befitting a Dr. Seuss story. The aroma of camphor from the bay laurels, the sweet smell of sediment on the forest floor, the whiff of doused fires still emitting from the charred redwood trunks, and the rich oxygenated air create a heady forest perfume. Light rain makes it even stronger.
That night, the sky dumps oceans of water on us. The rain pours incessantly, forcefully and such huge quantities that I wonder if we’ll float away down the Klamath River. Growling thunder and flashes of lightening add to the night drama, unnerving Sonya and me while David peacefully sleeps through it. Fortunately our RV withstands this unscheduled test for leaks!
In the morning, the ground is so super saturated with water that I pull on my high rubber boots to take Sonya on her walk. Early afternoon, sun breaks through the clouds and we return to the park to walk to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove where Redwoods National Park was dedicated in 1968. Sun streams between the trees, adding color and shadow to the statuesque trees’ beauty.
Later we walk among the redwoods in Big Tree Wayside. Feeling old? You’ll feel like an infant next to 1,500-year-old Big Tree, which goes back to the time of King Arthur! Feeling too big or fat? How about 304 feet tall or a girth of 68 feet? And Big Tree isn’t the tallest redwood!
That evening, David and I both mention that the back of our necks hurt, then chuckle when it dawns on us why. We’ve been looking up, up, up all day!