Friday, June 29, 2012

Off to the Lost Coast

This pack has seen some miles and places. Off to the Lost Coast for a few days. Carrying way too much as usual, but won't have to travel too far this time. Happy Trails!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lost Coast Trail Prep

For once I am pretty much packed up and ready to hike 2 days early. The bear canister is filled with food, my pack is packed, I bought an excellent BLM Lost Coast Trail Map at Humboldt Redwoods State Park on Saturday, and picked up a tide chart at the local outdoor store in town. Too bad my body is not ready. The hike is only 40 miles total, so it should not be too brutal. Spillz, Kyle and I have given ourselves three days to do it. There are sections that are impassable during high tide which may prevent us from pushing ourselves too much. I'm really looking forward to this one...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

A few more photos from the weekend's visit. We had a rain storm hit the coast Friday, so there was a nice watery sheen on the plants and trees Saturday morning...

Another Redwood Giant Laid to Rest

 How many old redwoods fall during a person's lifetime? In the post below, I mentioned wanting to revisit the old redwood giant that fell back in April. When I arrived near the spot, it appeared two more giants had just been laid to rest. Again, this fall looked extremely fresh, possibly days old. This tree was an old, old giant I think. It had a fire cave, and its bark was covered in lichen. In fact it was a lichen fest.
 It appeared that the tree had simply split above the fire cave, perhaps due to it's own weight. While this monster came crashing down, he took one of his neighbors along with it, launching him towards the creek. The smooth under surface of the tree was as slick as ice. I slipped several times walking on it. The above photo does not give a correct representation of the broken base. I could only get about halfway there in the 10 second countdown on my camera, due to the slickness of the tree. I'm guessing I would be half the size if I actually was able to get closer to it.

 As I said before, it was a lichen fest. If I knew a little more about lichens, this would have been a gold mine I'd imagine. There were fresh samples everywhere one looked. Attached to branches, bark, thrown from the upper limbs. This tree also took down a few boughs of a tall nearby Douglas Fir. The Douglas Firs seem to collect lots of lichen as well, so there was plenty to look at.

The crash must have been intense. After the original old giant fell and took out his neighbor, the neighbor tree threw debris out into the creek. In fact, these must have been launched like missiles. I saw a young tree across the creek that looked like it had the bark completely torn off about five feet above the ground. I could not cross the creek, so I don't know for sure, but I guess it's possible a chunk of wood crashed into it at great speed and landed on the other side.

Fallen Redwood (2 Months Later)

On Sunday, I went for a hike in one of my favorite spots in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. While hiking, I remembered the old giant that met its demise two months ago. I thought the tree may have fallen within days of when I saw it freshly lying on the ground back in April. I wrote about it here. The fresh branches definitely have turned brown in two months, and most of the plants and lichen have also decomposed.
The burl on the redwood giant that probably fell in April, after two months of decomposition.
Above is a picture I took of the burl yesterday, below is what it looked like in April. The fern has yellowed and withered, and the green needles and branches have all turned brown. New redwood trees are already beginning to grow out of the burl!
The burl on the recently fallen redwood giant back in April. (above)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Yesterday I roughly measured a few circumferences at breast height of trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. What a magnificent forest we have!

Albino Redwoods Video

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lost Coast Trail

I received a text from Spillz yesterday morning. Spillz hiked the PCT in 2010 and was one of a dozen or so hikers that I crossed paths with regularly that summer. We also hiked the Skunk Train tracks last summer together.We had been talking about the possibility of hiking the Lost Coast Trail sometime this summer. Well, we have set a date. June 30th through July 3rd. My supervisor Ok'd the time off from work, now I just need the approval from my boss. Spillz and her boyfriend have already been given the go ahead at their jobs. That gives us a little over a week to get plans solidified.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Montgomery Woods

 I had the afternoon off from work today so I could not resist the chance to head up to Montgomery Woods again. Seems there is always something new to see. Today, my attention was grabbed by a shiny object high in the canopy. After getting a closer view with my binoculars, I could see some scientific instruments attached to one of the branches near the top. I'm assuming that they were placed there by Steve Sillett and his crew, as they have been monitoring the grove for changes in the climate the last few years. There also were a lot of visitors to the grove today.
Scientific instruments near top of a tall redwood (above)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


 My buddy Pete is seeking redemption as he is attempting another bike tour down the coast of California along highway 1 with his dog "Bunky." Last year, I picked Pete up in Eureka after he caught the flu while biking through an unexpected early week of rain last fall. He had to abandon his trip as a result. This year, blue skies prevail, and I met him in Pt. Arena after work on Friday.
 We drove to Gualala, a tiny town along the coast, approximately an hour and a half north of San Francisco. We decided to camp along the Gualala River, on the Sonoma county side. Just an amazing spot.
 The Gualala is another gorgeous river that runs into the Pacific Ocean. The name given by the Pomo indigenous people means, "Where the river meets the sea." Redwoods tower above both sides of the river, and one could imagine overwhelming salmon runs in the old days.
Gualala was once a logging town, so once again, it seems to be mostly second or third generation redwoods growing, with an old giant left standing here and there amongst countless old stumps.
 While I was out exploring, Pete experienced a bit of trail magic. Some camping neighbors nearby offered Pete access to their canoe, since the launching area was in our campsite. While I was sitting on a beach area soaking in the beauty of the area, Pete arrived around the river bend in a canoe with his dog "Bunky".
"Jump in!" Pete exclaimed.
I couldn't believe it, this was too good to be true! For the next several hours, we explored the river in the canoe.

 Land north of the river is part of Mendocino County, while land on the south side is part of Sonoma county. We passed a campground located on the Mendocino side. The beach was full of people playing in the water and getting some sun. After we went upriver as far as our curiosity allowed, we turned around and headed toward the ocean.
 Before the Gualala river met the ocean, we docked along some dunes and explored the beach. Bunky, Pete's dog, was relieved I think to be on solid ground. Once we had enough sun for the day, we canoed back to camp and rested, ate, and drove into town. We met a man named Oliver, another biker Pete had met a couple days before.
 After eating some dinner, and doing some bike repairs, another canoe ride was too much to resist. The sun was just beginning to set, and the water was really peaceful. It wasn't long before it got really dark, the stars came out, and we could only see the black outline of the redwood canopy around us. We decided to pull up next to the campground on the Mendocino side and take a look around. It was like another world from our campground.
 This place was wall to wall campsites. Country music was pumping from the stereos of pickup trucks, Christmas lights were draped around numerous sites, people were everywhere, walking around drinking, smoking, eating around campfires, talking, fighting, laughing. It was like a mini shanty town.
 We decided it probably wasn't the best idea to leave the canoe down by the shoreline in case some drunk individuals got the idea to take it for a joy ride, so we quickly returned to the canoe and set off for camp. By now it was near pitch black, except for the stars overhead. Finding camp was going to be a serious challenge, especially since our launch site was basically a small mud path hidden underneath a bay laurel tree. Unbelievably, we found our site almost immediately, basically taking a literal "stab in the dark" and arriving right where the path led back to camp.
After a night's rest, we began packing up our stuff. I was heading home, and Pete was to return to the 1 on his bike. It was an incredible weekend. The only hitch was that when I went to start my car, the battery was dead. After finding some neighbors with jumper cables, the car started. Thankfully I made it home OK and Pete and Bunky have resumed their ride to San Diego. Happy Father's Day to all the father's out there!

Hendy Woods

The weekend started off with a gift from the universe. One of my clients canceled their session Friday morning just as I was driving past Hendy Woods. To have a potential three extra hours of hiking in the morning was something I could not pass up. A morning walk through the redwoods was in order.

 Not only were the trees as stunning as usual, but the Navarro River was spectacular. To see trees towering above a lazy, turquoise creek is a feast for the senses.

 The high point of the morning was to find three barred owls sitting on a branch. Once again, I thought it was the elusive spotted owl, but after looking through my binoculars, I could see the brown streaks on the breast of the owls, rather than spots. One of the owls was making an interesting noise, almost like a person trying to whistle through their teeth, with a crescendo at the end.
 The ranger told me afterward, that a family of barred owls had made residence near the campground. She was wondering if the mother was taking her offspring out for a tour. It didn't take long for my time to run out and return to work on the coast. Nevertheless, a great start to the weekend.