Ever since we read the book The Wild Trees we wanted to visit the coastal redwoods and see close up the magic of the towering giants hidden in the rainforest of northern California. In mid-April we got our chance, meeting up with our sister- and brother-in-law, Margo and John, to spend a week hiking through the forest and looking at trees.
We started in Humboldt Redwoods State Park where the famous Avenue of the Giants winds through the tall trees. A high annual rainfall feeds the unique plants and trees that are only found there.
Not surprisingly, it poured most of the time we were there. We still managed to get out into the forest and walk among the trees, the tallest ones estimated to be more than two thousand years old and as high as 380 feet.
Inside the forests at Humboldt, and further north in Prairie Creek and Jedediah State Parks, we entered a remote eco-system where young trees sprouted on the remains of fallen giants.
On the ground, the roots of trees mesh together, creating a living network across the forest floor.
High above, the broad crowns of the tree are lush environments for plants, animals, birds and insects.
Miraculously, even fire could not destroy these trees. Charred bark and empty trunks on the first ten feet of a tree did not kill it and fresh green leaves flourished above. The empty trunks offered a shelter that would be perfect for a hobbit.
The Redwood forest of today is only a fraction of the size it was before settlers began to log the giants in the late 19th century. In 1917, naturalist Charles Kellogg fashioned a fallen redwood into a camper that he put on the back of a flatbed truck, then drove around the country to campaign to save the remaining trees. He called the truck the Travel Log.
Kellogg’s efforts led to the preservation of several redwood groves, though conservation protests in some groves continued into the 1990s.
In between camping among the redwoods we spent a few days on the wild Pacific coast in Trinidad.
We also stayed for two nights on the serpentine blue-green Smith river, at the lovely Hiouchi Bed & Breakfast. From Hiouchi we could access the remote Grove of Titans, a circular colonnade of the largest redwoods in the world, trees so enormous that one of the first biologists to find the grove cried when he saw them.
Our time among the ancient redwoods filled us with awe and gave us hope that others will be able to experience the majesty of nature in these groves.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.