Wednesday, July 14, 2010

California Redwoods

We started off from Willits Tuesday morning, going up US 101 until we came to the Avenue of the Giants.  Avenue of the Giants is a two lane road that is more or less parallel to the US 101 Freeway for about 35 miles through Humbolt Redwood State Park.  Humbolt Park has a large proportion of the remaining old growth (older than 300 years) redwoods and the Avenue gets you very close to the towering trees.  The Founders Tree is a hundred yards or so from the trail head and is over 340 feet tall.  Photographing old growth redwoods is a nearly impossible task.  One has the choice of a ground shot illustrating the imposing diameters of the trunks or of point the camera upwards in hopes of conveying the heighth of the trees.

Harriett is a member of the Gardens Clubs of America and so was interested in seeing some of the 5000 acre grove for which the GCA raised funds for a half century to buy.  Thank goodness for Save the Redwoods League, the GCA, and all the other people and groups who have worked so diligently to preserve the remaining old growth redwoods.  (Only 4% of the redwoods that existed 150 years ago remain, and it will be 200 years before second and third growth trees can sustain the ecologies that thrive onin old growth trees.

After experiencing the magic, healing calm of the Redwoods, we continued north on US 101 until we were diverted by visions of ice cream cones in Ferndale, an old town that has worked hard to maintain its Victorian heritage and character.  Refreshed by ice cream made by the local dairy, we continued through Eureka and north to Orick, where we came to the Redwoods National and State Parks, a chain of parks operated as a single unit.  We diverted from US101 onto the Drury Parkway (named for the President of the Save the Redwoods League who led saving the redwoods now protected in National and State Parks.  The Parkway goes through Elk habitat (we didn't see any), redwoods, and has side-roads that go out to the coast.  We finished the day in Crescent City, a long walk on the beach south of town, and a good salmon dinner.

I come away with great feelings of regret that almost no old growth was preserved in the Gualala River watershed - that which remains was preserved moreby accident than by design.