Prospect RV Park to Crescent City RV Park, Crescent City, CA
Monday, October 9, 2006 … 145 Camper Miles – Total 9,394
Sunny & clear, warmer than yesterday
Next stop is a visit to the coastal redwoods in the very northwest corner of California. We showered and left the campground about 9:30, heading southwest for the coast. Our first exposure to these towering giants was a walk on the Nickerson Ranch Trail. We’d seen some big, old-growth giant trees by this point in our trip but none of those trees compared to even an average redwood that we saw on this trail. They are magnificent! We also walked a trail through the Simpson Reed Grove and walked the Stout Grove Trail as well.
It is useful to explain a bit about the redwood parks. The National Park Service names this area the Redwood Coast. It is really a mosaic of state and national parks. The redwoods are referred to by named groves. Many of the groves were donated to parks by their owners or were purchased by conservation groups. Typically, the groves were named by the donators after themselves or were dedicated to a loved one. In some cases, when purchased by conservation groups, donators were allowed to dedicate individual trees. The parks are on the coast, where the trees grow. It’s not surprising, then, that the parks include many beaches to explore.
The coastal redwood is the tallest species of tree in the world, towering up to 370 feet. Typically, they live for 500 to 700 years and some are known to be more than 2,000 years old. They have no known killing diseases and suffer little from insect damage.
After setting up camp at Harbor RV Anchorage Park in Crescent City, we drove Howland Hill Rd. and walked a trail to see still more redwoods. This narrow, gravel road travels through miles of redwood forest. In most areas there is a dense fern under story. The groves are very quiet and uncrowded. They are wonderful places to simply sit and contemplate … anything …
Dinner that evening was sautéed pork tenderloin with veggies. Later, we watched a beautiful sunset on the beach.
Crescent City RV Park to Elk Meadow CG, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP, Orick, CA
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 … 36 Camper Miles – Total 9,430
Clear & sunny, breezy
Up until this time we have planned this trip on a day-to-day basis without any specific goals or timetable. It has begun to dawn on us that our tour is approaching its end. A couple of weeks ago we made a decision not to cross the Canadian border. There is much we want to visit in Canada but we didn’t want to rush it so it will wait for another trip. But now, we need to begin to consciously plan what we can do before arriving home a week or so before Thanksgiving. So, we listed what and who we wanted to see before returning home and drew up a plan. We certainly won’t stick to it strictly, but at least we’ll know where we stand as we travel.
After showers, coffee and a car-and-camper wash, we drove CA-101 and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway to Prairie Creek Redwoods SP. There, we made camp in Elk Meadow CG. This is the southern section of the redwoods area. We drove Davidson Rd. to Coastal Drive which descends to sea level along Gold Bluffs Beach where gold was discovered in 1850. There was a brisk wind blowing onto the beach and it felt raw.
Fording several creeks along the way, we followed the road to its end at Fern Canyon.
Fern Canyon is a little slot canyon. A loop trail follows the small stream that flows through it, climbs the far end and returns along the rim. What makes the canyon unique is the ferns … but you guessed that, didn’t you? The almost perfectly vertical walls of the canyon are completely covered with ferns, the most common being the five-fingered fern. It is very pretty and very lush!
We then drove to another trail area in the park and made a loop hike of the Brown Creek, Rhododendron and South Fork Trails. The vegetation was almost exclusively redwoods with a lush fern and moss undergrowth. They contained many small named groves and many trees that were individually dedicated. The forest was beautiful, lush and quiet. And, much of the trail was steep. We were glad to be hiking it near sea level!
We needed showers after all our efforts. Afterward, we put together a dinner of pasta with veggies. We had a clear night sky with a striking view of the Milky Way.
Elk Meadow CG to Camp Lotus, Lotus, CA
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 … 390 Camper Miles – Total 9,820
Chilly night, mid 30s, clear & sunny afternoon, mid 80s
Today was a long day on the road, but at least it started well. Departing the campground we saw lots of wildlife including several Stellar’s Jays, a bevy of grouse and elk, five cows and a bull. We were headed toward Yosemite and followed CA-299 through the Redding area. They were fighting a large forest fire in the area and we passed some small burning areas and a large area where a fire-fighter camp was set up. Lots of tents.
The road lead through a portion of California’s Central Valley. Truck farms were everywhere as well as lots of olive groves. Near evening we were looking around for a campground for the night and stumbled onto Camp Lotus. It’s a small place on the banks of the south fork of the American River. Unknown to us, the river ranks as one of the preeminent white water rivers in the US with lots of class III rapids. Anyway, the river is low and the season is over so no one was there. But, the owner was happy to take our twenty bucks for a beautiful site with water and electric and showers.
We’d picked up a rotisserie chicken during the day and served it over a salad for dinner.