Redwood National Park
There are some things that reassure me that the world isn't such a bad place. One symptom of contact with one of these things is walking around with a slightly dopey grin on my face. Another symptom is a sudden, disconnected thought: "Oh, that's alright then". Amongst the things that affect me like this are Joan Miro paintings, whales in the sea, and Giant Redwood trees.
Walking amongst these trees I feel quite at peace. The canopy 250 feet or more above mutes light and sound, reducing sharp sensations, and engendering calm. At ground level all that you see is a giant trunk, perhaps 20 feet across, roaring straight up from the ground and heading almost out of sight. No branches appear for the first fifty feet or more, just the immense and deeply fissured bark. Then, high above, you see the softly backlit foliage.
Back at ground level, a closer inspection yields a slightly more complex picture. Younger trees sprout from older (a slip of 200 years from a parent of 2,000), contorted burls protrude, and many giants live on in spite of massive fire damage.
Even the ferns seem infected by the scale, rising to 6 feet or more, yet still dwarfed by the trees. Other trees share the neighbourhood, including laurels, bigleaf maple and other firs. Some of these are even comparable in size to the Redwood - the largest Douglas Fir reaches 300 feet - but not in majesty or sheer massiveness.
We've spent a few days in the park. First we went to Stout Grove (named for Mount Stout, not the the trees, amusingly enough) at sunset and wandered around getting neck ache. The next day was spent mainly driving along the rugged rocky coast, with Beluga doing its bit on the unpaved roads. Eventually we hiked down to Tall Trees Grove. A quick shufti at numbers 1, 2, 3 and 6 in the world height stakes (allegedly) and we settled down to camp a couple of nights on the nearby Redwood Creek.
Next day we rose to spend meandering amid the trees. One blot on the day was the inevitable outcome of David's recent flirtation with the art of whittling. Fortunately not too much blood was lost. This is backcountry camping at its best - beautiful location, nearby river, sunshine and - amazingly enough given the trees - no other people. And we don't even have to hike all day with full packs!
Day three, up with the lazier larks, walk out of the grove, and on to the coastal Gold Bluffs campsite. Now this is also a nice campsite. Wide sandy beaches backed by the Pacific Ocean. Tents nestling amid grassy dunes, and behind, a hundred foot tall bluff of - you guessed it - golden soil, with massive old growth forest on top. We took in Ladybird Johnson Grove en route - more massive trees - and a beach stroll.
Day four, a walk through the woods via Fern Canyon. This has walls perhaps 60 or 70 feet high, and literally covered with ferns. It looks like a fairy palace, all glistening and green, with fallen trees and moss in every spare space.
(click thumbnails for a larger picture) |
Big tree (1)
Big tree (2)