The Redwoods

Trip Start Jul 09, 2012
Trip End Dec 12, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, July 26, 2012

We had an early start this morning, managing to leave the motel just after 8am. The morning was cold again with the marine layer hanging low overhead. We even seemed to go through it at some points. The coast scenery was picturesque, as we were becoming used to. Soon before we reached our destination I spotted a herd of deer, including at least a couple of stags, grazing on the grass right by the beach, very close to the road. There were a few cars and RVs stopped in the parking area nearby, presumably taking photos. I wasn't prepared with the camera in my pocket today, so didn't manage to get a picture. I tried to point them out to Wayne, but I guess he was too busy focussing on the road, as when I asked him about them later he hadn't seen them!
We got to the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park at about 9:40, and there were very few people there. On our ride in I noticed several signs warning not to approach the Elk that might be hanging out in the area. This made me wonder if the deer that I had seen earlier were actually elk, although it would mean that they were several miles from home.
Last night we had decided to ask at the Visitors Center about which walk to take, so that was our first stop. The lady who assisted was very helpful and not only suggested what trails we took, but also offered to put our gear inside while we were hiking. Trailwise, she suggested that we start off with hiking along the West Ridge trail, then cut across to the Prairie Creek trail via the Zig Zag #1 trail. So we started out, and the hike took us on a zig-zagging climb up along a ridge so that while we weren't anywhere near the altitude of any of the trees we could see the tops of some of them. They were so impressive with how tall they were and their girth for the height they had reached. It was also really interesting seeing how trees that were damaged early in their life recovered and regenerated. The forest wasn't really as dense as forests in NZ tend to be, but the trees were so much taller that their branches still met up with each other and blocked out a lot of the sky. The whole place seemed so quiet and peaceful, and even as we were walking along there was hardly any noise due to the type of foliage that had fallen off the trees and was covering the path. There was very little bird song either. It really felt like we were the only people around.
Once we got on to the Prairie Creek trail we started seeing more people, probably as this trail was more accessible from the road. The trees along this path were often a lot bigger than the ones on the other trail, but there were also a lot of other, different trees surrounding the creek area. Halfway along this trail we sat down and ate our lunch in the quiet. At one point a small squirrel came onto the path near a tree, but I think he was so surprised to see us (and I had let out a small yelp when I saw movement from the corner of my eye) that after checking we might be a threat, he headed off further along the path, back into the undergrowth.
Near the end of the trail we came across Big Tree, the biggest tree in the park. It was 25ft in diameter and 96m high. Huge! There were lots of people here taking photos, but as soon as we got past the entrance to this car park, there were virtually no people again.
We finished up the hike, made a donation, picked up our bags and headed off to our final stop for the day, Crescent City.
After checking into our motel a short 20-30mins later we decided to go in search of a coffee. Crescent City isn't a big place, but we managed to find a Starbucks, right by a Home Depot store. So, after our coffee we went to check out the shop that would be the equivalent of a Mitre 10 Mega back home, one of our most frequented places. The place was huge and seemed to have everything you might need for building, renovating or repairing your home. We would easily have spent half an hour or so just wandering around seeing what was there.
Back in our motel room we relaxed for an hour or so and then headed out for dinner, at the restaurant within one of the local casinos. Wayne was keen to check out if there were any differences between these casinos that all appeared to be on Indian reservation land (?) and those back in NZ. I guess the main difference was that it was only small, there were windows so you could see what time of day it was outside, and they didn't have any coin operated pokie machines. The other interesting point was that although they were obviously expecting our passports as ID, they had a book with government issued identification from what seemed like everywhere in the world, so they could compare our driver licenses to that shown in the reference.
After an ok dinner and a short time playing a few rounds of blackjack we headed back to the motel, picking up a few supplies along the way.
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