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Published: October 9th 2016
The weather closed in again the day we drove the final strip of Oregon coast and crossed the border into California. Heavy rain and a lot of fog made it difficult to see the grandeur and beauty which we had been promised were the Oregon coast. But momentary snatches of sun did allow us to catch some glimpses of long beach stretches from high rocky perches as the road wound its way precariously close to the shoreline ever leading us south. Towards warmer weather we collectively hoped.
Our last night on the Oregon coast we camped in the amazing "Honeymoon" State Park in a section of the Sand Dune Recreational Area. The sand hills were wonderful fun as you will see from the photos. Spectacular family downhill races ensued ... granny opted to wait at either the top or bottom and record the antics of her family from a stationary position. An early morning walk resulted in some photos of rampaging squirill and even (I think) a chipmunk.
For the three days and four nights we have camped and wandered among the redwood forests of northern California. Tall trees ..... huge trees, spectacular forests where the ground is always damp,
littered with bright red fronds and crumbling bark, the sky is mostly obscured from view by towering trees heavy with foliage, and the undergrowth is covered with heavy green moss and lichen which looks as if it has been sprayed over everything by a mischievous 10 year old child. There are no words to adequately describe these scenes or the walks we have taken on trails leading through this mystical world. And there are few photographs which can capture the magnitude of it either. Its impossible, even with a wide angle lens, to capture a photograph of even one tree from ground to upper canopy.
When my grandchildren were young, I remember reading them a story about "going on a bear hunt" which talked in rhyme about going into the deep dark forest to find the bear. As I strolled through these forests over the last couple of days, this rhyme kept coming back to me and I knew that until now I had no understanding of the "deep dark forests" to which it referred. They are indeed a world apart ... deep, dark, damp, cold, magical, mystical, scary, beautiful. I went on a bear hunt, but didn't find
the bear. Probably just as well.
We have been collectively gasping at the size of these trees ever since we entered our first forest. So yesterday, when we saw a sign on the road edge with an arrow pointing to what it said was a "big tree", we all just dissolved with laughter. What sort of "understatement" was this? The tree that the sign led to was indeed hugh though believe me it was not unique ... and according to the sign at its base, something like 1500 years old. Having been picked out for special mention and fenced off for protection from prying hands and feet, it was almost a non-event. But the circumstances of its survival were interesting. Large portions of all the redwood forests bear people's names "in memorial". We were told by a ranger that this meant that these people had contributed to the protection of these groves of trees. Some they were loggers others just ordinary people who recognised the folly of cutting them down and actually purchased sections of ground and left the trees on them standing. This particular BIG TREE had been saved by collective activism to prevent it from being cut
down to cut up and use as a dance floor in a community hall.
Our first night was spent in the Jedediah Smith State Park where a river also bearing this gentleman's name trickled its way towards the sea a short distance from our camp site. This river was a particular favourite spot for me ... beautiful reflections, autumn colours and picturesque redwoods lining its shores made for some lovely photographs not to mention that it was a beautiful place to just sit, relax, meditate and relax.
At the Redwood National and State Park Visitor Centre, Amy and Oliver each collected a junior ranger Quest brochure and as we walked the trail to Trillium Falls later that afternoon, they happily noted and collected the information required for a special ranger "patch" which they were awarded when they returned to the rangers and successfully answered the question which proved they had indeed walked the trail. Their preoccupation with this quest under their mother's benevolent and patient skill enabled their Dad and I to savour the silence and majesty of our surroundings in dumbfounded awe for much of this walk. And continue to click our cameras in a fruitless quest to
capture the beauty surrounding us. I have so many photos that it is almost impossible to choose just a few to include in this blog, or to work out which is the "best"/
To date we have seen little wildlife or even birds which has disappointed me. My family just look at me in horror when I say I really want to encounter a bear so that I can get that special photograph. And I must say that walking these trails with two chirpy and very energetic grandchildren is probably enough to ensure that any self respecting wildlife will have headed off in the other direction long before we see it. But that's a good trade off. I am absolutely loving spending this time with my family and absorbing their energy and joy of simply being alive.
Today I suspect we will walk at least one more redwood trail before heading south again ... more wonders await. The sun is just dispersing the early morning fog as I sit and write this blog. Who knows what it will reveal ....
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