Trip 2010 – Redwood Forest

Rachel, Steve, Abbey & I loaded into the car on the morning of April 5th to set off down the coast to Palo Alto. I wish the two day road trip could have been 2 weeks with more time to play on the coastal rocks and camp amidst the giant redwoods. It was my first time seeing these magnificent trees in person and I’ll never forget it. It was just a taste but I am certain it is not my last.

Traveling with dogs requires frequent and welcome stops. Route 101 stretches all along the west coast. During the summer months the Oregon stretch has the highest congestion of travelers over all other roads in the country. (According to Rand McNally.) But for this cool and cloudy April day the traffic was almost non-existent. We let the dogs play on the rocks at a scenic rest stop.

I was just starting to run around on the rocks and throw Abbey the frisbee when the rain started to fall. We all jumped back into the VW Golf and headed on South down 101.

On another rainy stop I took a pick of the ocean with my cell phone. Living so far from any ocean in Louisville, KY, it is wonderful and calming to be next to one. Crisp, clean, cool air and an endless view. It’s actually quite similar to the feeling I get when I reach the very top of a very tall tree and look out onto the vast landscape.

We stopped in Brookings, OR for some pizza then continued on. We had brought gear for camping and had originally planned to drive to Crater Lake but the temperature there was 15F with snow and roads were being closed. So we stuck to the coast and decided to just get a hotel. We found a cheap place that welcomed pets just south of the Oregon/California border in Crescent City. Once settled, we took the dogs for their last walk of the day and I climbed a small tree near the parking lot. Sorry, no pictures.

Today was the big day. Route 101 is also known as the Redwood Highway. Once we got going that morning the trees that line the road got bigger the higher we climbed into the hills. I sat in the passenger seat with my mouth open constantly looking right and left at the massive trees. I really wish we had been in a convertible.

After a while we stopped in a visitors center to get a map and decide where to hike. We asked this old woman who worked there where the biggest trees were and she said they are all big. (Thanks for the help!) We drove a little while longer and stopped at another visitors center and decided to hike around there. The trees were definitely BIG!

But this was not my climb.

Unfortunately the trails didn’t allow dogs and we had to leave them in the car. So Rachel took her camera to record the experience for them.

We walked on and off the trail and I went most of the way with my head cranked way back. Incredible!

I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to climb one of these, but I was determined to figure it out. I was either looking for a young redwood that I could shimmy up to the lowest branch, or find two big ones close enough to each other to wedge myself in between and spider-crawl up. I saw a possibility and gave my camera to Rachel so that I could be in the photos. With trees this big, I wanted my body as a reference for relative size.

After scrambling up through some small undergrowth to the wedge between the trees, I was pretty much done. It was too high and unstable to spider-crawl up anything. And to what? The next closest limb looked 100 feet above me. I sat a while while Rachel got some shots then I scrambled back down and we walked around some more.

I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to move here. I felt I had found my place in the world. But like my tree climbs, I eventually climb down. I had to leave. But I knew I’d be back. Good bye redwoods.

I sat quiet in the car on the rest of the ride out of the Redwood Forest looking all around me like before. The trees began to thin and we detoured over to Route 1 which runs right along the coast. The day had turned clear and sunny and the ocean was smooth. It was a beautiful and fun drive…till the sun went down. Then the curving road started to make us both sick and irritated. We didn’t get to Palo Alto till almost midnight. It was a long but very memorable day.

Please stay tuned for the final leg of Trip 2010. San Francisco, Stanford, THE Palo Alto, and other awesome trees and adventures!

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