Published: September 6th 2007September 4th 2007
Labor Day weekend When:
31st Aug - 3rd Sep 2007 Where:
Coastal Redwood Forests, Northern California Mileage:
< 1000 mi RT
I initially planned this trip as a surprise for Ganesh but I could not hold the secret for too long
. Fri, 31st Aug:
Rented a compact car from Alamo, San Jose Airport. Successfully overlooked a Chevy Aveo(Seriously, why are those cars even manufactured?) only to settle for a white Saturn Ion. Never driven a Saturn before. So, that's exciting! A huge trunk space(love those!).
Ganesh spent a hectic day at work while I was getting ready to pack stuff. When we travel, we love to eat. Our neighbors even asked if we were moving out. We pack a mini-house. Time to try out an RV, eh!
We left the source by 9pm. First stop in 50 miles: Dinner stop at the Golden Gate Bridge. Emptied a 3 course meal into our stomach chambers. It was very windy but I just could not resist getting out to take some night shots.
After the initial 100 miles, I took the wheels & in just a matter of seconds, Ganesh was in deep sleep(Bites me how
Above the clouds
Could not resist taking this shot
he does it every single time!)
It was not until 1am that we reached Irvine Lodge Rest area along 101 N. We'd been there before. But we were going to explore it after sunrise. Surprisingly, quite a bunch of cars were there for the night.
Sound sleep, I should say! Sat, 1st Sep:
Usually we get up to Sunlight hitting our face. Not this time! Tall trees covering up. Morning was fresh. We cooked our breakfast over the picnic area & after freshening up, we were all set to do the macho hike of the trip- Humbling Humbolt (courtesy killer: 101 best hikes in CA).
Getting there: In Humbolt county, take the Honeydew Exit in towards Rockfeller Forest. Drive 4 miles until "Look Prairie Road" parking lot. Yeah, we did chuckle at the name.
While we were getting geared, a Ranger passed by & let us know that the trail was open & fine.
It was SUNNY(that sunny!!!) & the book promised "a shady hike". Well, we trusted the book & the trail started off among tall trees. In a while, it opened up to meadows & we were baking almost immediately. My sun-tolerance is very very
low. If I had not seen trees almost immediately, I am pretty sure I would have turned back.
I would rate the hike as moderately strenuous, but you get to see a lot more redwoods without the crowd. In all 12 miles, we might have probably met just around 5-6 people(that too as we neared the campground).
By the time we came down we were half dead (& a little baked) & were more than happy to see our car. The problem: we did the 12-13 mi hike in like 4-5 hrs. Our legs complained. Well, we still had 150 mi before we could call it a day.
Near Orika, we were forced to pull out seeing so many cars there. There was this huge "Elk viewing" board & sure enough, there were a bunch of them- if you can call 20-25 as a bunch. Roosevelt Elk is very common in this part of CA.
Another had-to-stop was at our fav beach. I keep forgetting the name of the beach, but it has a beautiful lake on the other side of the beach, that has never let me down on dramatic scenery. Today was no exception. I saw some
Trees of Mystery
fog setting in & I had to do some poison-oak-wading to get to the lake. Totally worth it, of course.
We did stop at another vista point where we saw the Sun above some low clouds. The best part was, we were on a mountain & the cloud sheet was below us. Del Norte State Park
, here we come. Campground was full. No surprise. We had reservations. So, set up the tent at site#16- Home for 2 days!
A hot water shower, good dinner & a little cleaning later, we were all good to sleep. Sun, Sep 2nd:
Until the day before, I was a little sad that I could not make reservations in Prairie creek state park
. That is the most popular park. At least, I did not feel that way after being into Del Norte. Tall Redwoods standing guard. Campers were still asleep it was so quiet & peaceful that I was inspired to do a little Yoga
A brief breakfast & long cleaning later, we left home. Our final destination for the day was Prairie creek, but we stopped at almost all the vista points & a couple of beaches. Surprisingly, no FOG!
As a stomach churner, in Jan 2007, there was a mountain lion attack in Prairie creek & the park was closed for a while. It created news & we wanted to know more. The person at the gift shop was a little free & she shared what happened. What actually happened?
All heard & said, we were off to Fern Canyon- the shooting spot in "Jurassic Park". The access road is all gravel & unpaved for 10 miles & you get to cross 3 streams. There were so many people on the road that we felt ridiculous to turn back. Though the stream carried little water, crossing it was fun the first time. How easy would it be to cross those streams after a rain? Don't answer that!
Once at the almost-full parking lot, it is a short 1 mile loop. You would not believe that there was a canyon there. Of course, it was very touristy with so many people hiking in & out of the canyon, but it was like nothing we had ever seen before. Imagine a 20 feet canyon floor(oh yeah, there is a stream) with huge 50 ft fern walls(fresh &
green when it is Summer anywhere else) on either sides. Truly out of a movie.
We did the whole 1 mile loop. Simply refreshing!
We visited the nearby Gold bluffs beach before stomach master started growling.
Lunch & 10 gravel miles later, Ganesh drove while I had enough time to nap before we reached Damnation Creek trail head.
I can't say enough about those Giants. They just stand there, witnessing everyone who pass below them. Truly humble.
Damnation Creek trail is a moderately steep 2.1 mi descent to a lone private rocky beach. What say, but totally worth it! God blessed CA with gold & beaches. Well, at least the beaches remain
After that 13 mi hike, we were in pretty good shape to complete the hike in less than 2 hrs. We spent around an hr at the beach.
We drove to a nearby vista point to watch the golden Sun go down to light the other part of the world. Night fell!
Driving back to our campsite, both of us realized that we did not do justice to the park. We just used it as sleeping quarters. We should come back another time. Mon,
crossing the 1st stream
Fern Canyon, Prairie creek redwoods state park
The usual morning routines. Ugh!!!
We were at the Trees of Mystery
in a couple of minutes. There is so much publicity about this place that made us visit. One word: Total Touristy! But you can visit once. The kid in you might enjoy more.
It was pretty much a straight drive to Trinidad. Trinidad
is a beautiful coastal town. But we were there for a different reason; to hike to Trinidad head(a rock projecting out into the ocean). The hike promised excellent views, but unfortunately, it was extremely sunny too. It was a short 2 mi hike.
Enough about the trip & hikes & food & redwoods. Time to go home.
My heart became a little heavy when we crossed Ferndale
, but there's always a next time.
Around 7.30pm, just past Exit 636 on 101 S, we had a flat tire & could not find a user manual for the car. Ganesh wanted to change the tire, but we were not sure about the air pressure in the spare. So, in came AAA helper(also a Ranger & a cop) to get it fixed after almost an hr(It took only 5 min to change the
Prairie creek redwoods state park
tire, but more than an hr for him to get there). Result:
only 55 mph speed all the way home. All that extra driving time made me enjoy the stars while Ganesh went into deep sleep. We came home an hr past midnight safe & sound.
A flat tire won't stop us from making road trips, but sure, we will be a lot more prepared & handy.
A totally worth-it road trip that did give a sense of achievement & contentment.
Travel creates harmony within us & among us. We know each other better, our strengths & weaknesses & have learnt to accept that everything happens for a reason.
Many more discoveries await.
__________________________________________________ In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
There are more photos below