Gold Bluffs: The Hard Way
Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
17Trip End Oct 2007
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Our plan was to drive to Gold Bluffs Beach in the Redwoods and spend the whole week there before heading to my dad's house. Silas had stayed at this beach in the spring and from the way he had talked about it I knew he was really looking forward to getting back there, and I was too. We got to the Redwoods and found the turn to the campground and saw that the road was closed!! We couldn't believe it. There was a barricade and a piece of paper taped to it that said that the road was closed due to 'emergency conditions'. By that time the visitor's center was closed, so we couldn't find out why it was closed or if it was going to be opening back up soon or what was going on. We had no choice but to look for a different campground and then try to find out what was going on the next day. So we spent the night at Patrick's Point State Park- which was okay, but we were both pretty disappointed about not being able to get to Gold Bluffs.
The next morning we drove back to the visitor's center and found out that the road was closed because of a slide and that they weren't sure when it was going to be open again- one of the rangers said they were going to look at it again the next day and then possibly open it back up.
All this time we had been planning on driving there and sleeping in the bus like we usually do, but we realized that we actually did have another option- hiking in and tent camping. We weren't really prepared for backpacking (we didn't have any fuel for the smaller stove and all the groceries we had bought were not really 'backpacking friendly') but we decided to go through our stuff and see if it would be possible. We decided that it was definitely do-able, so we packed up as fast as we could and set out on the trail towards the beach hoping to get there before it got dark.
As we were getting closer to the beach we were talking about how, now that we were hiking in, we hoped that the road stayed closed so that we'd have the beach to ourselves. We were also comparing it to hiking in to Havasu Falls, and how we might have hostile feelings towards anyone who came the 'easy way' and didn't actually hike in themselves.
We made it to the beach just before sunset and had just enough time to set up our tent before the sun went down. It was a really beatiful beach- we walked a little ways down the beach and all Silas kept saying was how much he wanted to see a 'dead marine mammal'. Well, he didn't have to wait long- we caught a wiff of a horrible smell and it turned out to be a dead seal. Yuck!
The next morning we got up and made breakfast and discovered that we had forgotten to bring coffee cups. Not to worry though- we rinsed out a couple beer bottles and used those. We took our coffee and headed down the beach in search of treasure. (cool driftwood, interesting trash, more dead marine mammals...) After spending the whole morning and part of the afternoon beachcombing, we headed back to our campsite for lunch. We also discovered that the bathroom there had free showers! With hot water! Unfortunately neither of us had brought any soap or shampoo. There was a small piece of soap in the bathroom that I had been using though, and when I told Silas about that he said that maybe we should use it. I reminded him of his itchiness after using the 'mystery soap' in Sequoia and his response was, 'Yeah, but what are the chances of that happening twice.' How soon he forgets the misery he went through! Instead, we used dish soap for our showers and it seemed to work just fine...and it didn't cause any itchiness!!
Silas got a raging fire going and we played Cranium by the fire for a while after dinner. (only the humdinger, cameo, and copycat cards) The next day we packed up and headed toward Fern Canyon, which is where the trail that we were going to hike out on was. Right before we left a Park Sevice truck pulled up by our campsite (while we were drinking our coffee- out of beer bottles) and a ranger got out and told us that the road was opening up and so there would probably be people coming soon. Looks like we got out just in time!
I was extremely disappointed when we found that the road that led to Gold Bluffs beach was closed. Like Allison said, I stopped and camped there on my way back to Montana this spring and loved it. At first we just kept our fingers crossed that it would open. Then I remembered the trail that led there from the Prairie Creek visitor center was only 4 1/2 miles, so I asked a ranger if we could pack in and camp there, and she said it would be okay. Although, our packs were extremely heavy since we weren't prepared food and equipment wise, it was definitely worth it. The road closure was a blessing in disguise because Allison and I had the entire beach to ourselves. I loved beach combing! Allison and I found some pretty cool pieces of driftwood, as well as the dead seal. I don't really like to see dead animals, but you don't usually get to see marine animals up close, so I think it is interesting when you see them on the beach. Allison and I saw a lot of foxes while we were camped at Glod Bluffs and Patrick Point. They had very little fear of humans. One fox just curled up and slept on a log right in our campsite. Allison was a little nervous at Gold Bluffs because there were a lot of big toads hopping around. We hiked out from the beach by following a little creek up Fern Canyon. It was beautiful. The canyon walls were completely blanketed with ferns. The first time I visited the Redwoods I was blown away by the size of the trees, but this time they didn't seem as large after visiting Sequoia, but they were still really cool. Some are so twisted and gnarled it looks like they have faces. After hiking out we camped at Prairie Creek. We got an early start the next morning and headed towards Allison's childhood stomping ground, Tiller. On the way, we drove through the beautiful Applegate Valley and stopped in an old historic town named Jacksonville for coffee and internet. The autumn colors in the Applegate Valley were amazing!