Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lost Man Creek

 I drove up to Lost Man Creek again yesterday to embark on what I was hoping would be a relatively easy bushwhack but by the end of the day had turned into one of the most strenuous of my life. Before leaving, I left detailed instructions where I was going with my housemate and made sure I did not detour from those directions. I brought my maps, GPS, phone, lunch, and a rain jacket.

I did not feel unsafe at all during the hike, it was just extremely difficult, the terrain was tough as it always is up here, including several misguided routes through thorns, reeds and grasses that grew over my head, stinging nettles, mud, and the occasional collapsing decayed redwood. Of course there is always the chance that some unexpected accident could happen, and I am very much aware of that. It would be much, much safer to hike with a partner in these places.
 There were some wonderful trees to visit as always. Fall seems to be in the air now, as some leaves are changing colors and the redwoods continue to shed some of their needles. Pretty soon, the rainy season will arrive hopefully. Can't wait to see the mushrooms again.
 Overall, I probably hiked no more than three miles all day. One mile bushwhacking through the forest, another mile up a road, and another mile of miscellaneous walking, but boy was I beat at the end of the day. Again, I am reminded how different these northern redwood parks are in comparison to the more southerly ones. The vegetation is just so much more dense.
As always, another great day in the woods...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thank You CHP

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding cops in the news lately. Some of it justified, some if not perhaps. I will admit, I have my own issues and suspicions in regards to the police. However, I want to give a "shout out" if you will, to a CHP officer I encountered yesterday near Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

For the past 8 months, I have slowly been inspecting as many groves as possible in search for undiscovered redwood albinos. The search has taken me through some of the most majestic groves the park has to offer, as well as some of the most lonely and desolate. There was one spot small spot that I wanted to check out yesterday that as far as I could tell, there was no access to. I parked my car well off the highway and entered the grove. A couple minutes later, I heard and noticed a CHP officer parked behind my vehicle.

I understood that I probably looked really sketchy, especially as I walked out of the woods. The officer sternly explained to me that I was parked illegally and questioned what I was doing. I was expecting to get a fat ticket of some sort. After explaining to the officer that I was inspecting groves for redwood albinos, I apologized and told him that I would be on my way. The officer then suggested that I stay and finish looking, before heading home. I did not find any albinos in this particular spot, but I want to give a big "Thank You!" to the CHP officer for his understanding...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great Day in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I spent the day yesterday exploring another area of Humboldt Redwoods State Park that I've wondered about for some time. As usual, the park continues to surprise and impress, especially off the beaten path. Just a few observations: The Eel River is very shallow this time of year, ankle deep in many places, and warm. There still seem to be swim holes that have enough water for a good day of swimming. Many albino redwoods in the park are looking fantastic right now, lots of fresh sprouts. I'm wondering if August is the peak month for viewing them. Some of the Maple leaves are beginning to turn yellow. Humboldt Redwoods State Park seems to enjoy day after day of summer sunshine. The marine layer continues to dissipate just before the park if traveling from the north. Also many tourists continue to travel through right now. The Visitor Center looked really busy yesterday...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Secrets of the Oak Woodlands

My Naturalist friend Kate Marianchild of Ukiah, CA was just featured in Bay Nature Magazine. There is a great interview of her journey discovering the secrets of the California Oak Woodland ecosystem over the last decade. I had the pleasure to join her on several hikes and hear countless fascinating stories about the plants and animals in the Oak Woodlands when I used to live in Ukiah. She just finished writing a book as well. Check the link for the interview and book details!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

I visited Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park for a couple hours Monday afternoon. Grizzly Creek is one of those places you wish could just stretch on forever, but sadly does not. I still find it shocking at times what we have done to our forests...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bushwhacking in Prairie Creek

John Montague and "The Bar-keep" 
I have done 99% of my redwood exploring solo, so I was excited to have the opportunity to do some redwood exploring with John Montague yesterday in Prairie Creek. John has a passion for redwoods, and for exploring deep into unexplored territory. He recently found the largest known single stem redwood known to exist at breast height, just a couple months ago.

We were looking for big trees, albinos, and tall redwoods and Doug firs. Measuring tall trees is something I rarely do, so it was fascinating watching John calculate and measure a few tall trees. I've often wandered the groves wondering how in the world guys like Michael Taylor or Chris Atkins have successfully measured the heights of the redwoods. John paid very close attention to detail and often would have to bushwhack up and down steep terrain just to make a few measurements. Fascinating stuff.

We also ventured deep into the forest and found a few large, undocumented trees, including my first encounter with a tree with a circumference over 70 feet. Above is a picture of one of the trees we found yesterday in the 50 foot circumference range that John named the "Bar-keep."

Overall, it was a full and rewarding day in the woods. Expect to hear more inspiring discoveries from the forests from John...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Subtle Changes in the Redwood Forest

Changes seem to be very subtle in the redwood forest. Perhaps I don't have the eye to see them very well, but for the most part, the forest often looks the same week after week. There are times when I am struck with the realization that certain trees have been growing in the same spot for over a thousand years. How can that be?! It can be mind boggling in the fast paced, ever changing world we live in right now.

The groves have been smokey this week in HRSP due to fires in forests well to the south...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lost Man Creek

Did some hiking and exploring around Lost Man Creek today. The one thing that really struck me again today was how dense and infinite this forest can seem at times and just how difficult and exhausting it is to travel around in it. I want to give thanks to forest defenders past, present, and future. It makes me happy to know that it may take a lifetime to really intimately explore what remains of the old growth redwoods and there are so many spots I know I never will see.