Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fern Canyon, Gold Bluffs Beach and Elk!

The most popular/famous sight in Prairie Creek state park is fern canyon.  Ferns grow in great profusion all over the redwood forest, but in fern canyon they grow on vertical walls over 30 feet high and if you don't mind getting your feet a little wet, you can walk through the canyon's winding bottom where some scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed.

We had to cross the creek a dozen times ...
...and climb over jumbles of logs.  But it was worth it!

 Fern canyon's entrance is at Gold Bluffs Beach, where we could take Tucker for a romp.  On our way back to the truck we saw a lone buck Roosevelt elk grazing.

Roosevelt elk nearly went extinct.  In fact, the last herd was down to 15 animals when Prairie Creek SP was created in 1925.  Today they are like pigeons in the park.  Well, not really, but they are plentiful and fairly complacent around people.  It is rutting season and the bulls (1,200 pounds worth) can get aggressive.  In fact, one killed a chihuahua a few weeks ago (now THAT seems like an unfair fight!).  We were thrilled to see one pretty close up at the beach, but when we were driving back home, we saw a small group of cows and one bull walking (no, strutting) across a meadow near the road.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Prairie Creek Redwoods

Back in the 1920's, when people started to become aware of the rate at which the old-growth redwoods were being cut down, organizations like the Save the Redwoods League started buying forest land and working with the state to preserve these forests.  Three state parks combined to preserve about half of the remaining virgin forest.  We visited Jedediah Smith the other day, today we visited Prairie Creek and walked up a road you can normally drive on, but was closed to cars today. We were glad to walk it and saw only one group of three hikers in the couple hours we were walking.

Of the original 2 million acres of coast redwoods, only about 115,000 acres remain.  The battles over these forests even raged into the 90's when people chained themselves to trees to save them and one protester was killed when the loggers started felling trees in their direction.  Walking through the sections of these forests that are preserved brings out the Druid in me and makes me totally understand the passion of the people who tried to save them.  The quiet is heavy and a bit eerie.  Time seems to literally be suspended and Lynnae and I frequently would split up and one would wait five minutes before walking back so we could experience the forest alone.  We have another week around Redwood country and will undoubtedly keep walking in them when we can.

We also took a drive (up another dirt road) to the Lady Bird Johnson grove and up into the grassy hills above the canyons where the redwoods grow.  It was weird to rise above the fog and into the warm sunlight and golden hills.  Lynnae spied an old truck rotting by the side of the road and we stopped to have a look.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Crescent City

Perched on the shore about 15 miles south of the Oregon border is the last town in California.  Site of a major tsunami in 1964 that wiped out much of the town, it is now a run down beach town that is kind of sad but set in a very beautiful area.  The lighthouse is the key attraction in the town and we caught it from a few different angles and at different times (still playing with that crescent moon!)

That is Saturn shining next to the moon.

From the Forest to the Sea

After spending the day before in the old-growth forests, we decided to explore the coast around the Klamath River a bit.  We drove up to two different lookout points, one on the south side of the mouth of the Klamath and one on the north.  We also rushed out to the beach near us after dinner to catch the sunset.  I also wanted to try to photograph the crescent moon in interesting ways.  We were pretty exhausted after lots of dirt road rides and walking up and down bluffs and through the sand, but it was a good day!

First a few pics taken from our campground on the river:

This view of the sunrise mist on the river  REALLY reminds me of Clam Pudding Pond.  A little homesick, I guess.

These were shot from the overlook on the north side of the Klamath mouth looking south:

Next stop was the overlook on the south side of the mouth looking north.  The rock in the first picture below is the same one as in the picture above from the other overlook.

We also explored a really interesting site shown in the picture below.  This concrete block building was built during WWII to look like a farmhouse but it was actually a radar and lookout station on the alert for a Japanese attack!  Now it is primarily occupied by banana slugs.

This little guy is the mascot of my alma mater, UC Santa Cruz.

Sunset and moonset at the beach at the mouth of the Klamath. The haystack rocks you see are very common on this coast.

This building is a traditional Yurok sweat lodge, still in use by the locals.

Not photoshopped (I don't have or know how to use Photoshop), this is actually Lynnae's hand in the picture.

Old-growth Redwood Forests

I have been anticipating our trip to this area for months, having great memories of the coast redwoods from my college days and much of the time we lived in California.  These forests are like none other I have experienced.  The quiet is palpable and it feels more like a cathedral than a forest.  In a way it is a dead forest, as you see few birds or squirrels and the ground is soft with hundreds of years of falling needles. We drove through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, part of the complex of federal and state parks that manage 90% of the remaining old-growth redwood forests up here.  The road was narrow, twisting and magnificently beautiful. We'll be visiting other redwood forests in the days to come.

This stump was by the side of the road and, despite the graffiti, is awe-inspiring by its sheer size. The rest of the tree must have been logged back before this was a park because it was not to be seen.

Lynnae between two trees that fell away from each other, leaving huge roots (now fern gardens)

From tiny cones, the tallest trees in the world are born!