We are finally headed north to the spectacular Oregon Coast. We left Sacramento on September 10 and took a couple of days to get up to Oregon. We took Interstate 5 to Hwy 20 to get over to Hwy 101 which is a very scenic drive up the coast of Northern California. Sometimes Hwy 101 is four lanes, but many areas of the highway are two lanes and go through rural areas of Northern California. One of the most scenic part is through the coastal giant redwood forests.
We spent the first night just south of Garberville in an RV Park (read: parking lot). The price was right at $14 per night with full hook ups (water, electric and sewer). Using our Passport America card for a 50% discount on the $28 rate, was ok for a couple of nights. Some of the sites looked like permanent residents. We lucked out with a pull-thru spot very close to the office that houses the WIFI routers. I was able to get a WIFI signal … it was weak, but usable.
We (read: Ralph) drove for about six hours the first day, so we just made dinner the first night and relaxed. The next day we drove the Mini north to the Avenue of the Giants and played in the giant redwoods for the day. We visited Humboldt Redwoods State Park (SP) and went to the Founders Grove. Founders Grove is an ancient forest and one of the greatest forests on earth. The Founders Grove is dedicated to the founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League. In 1917, several prominent men traveled to Humboldt and Del Norte counties to view these magnificent redwood groves. When they found these trees were not protected, they formed the League to preserve areas of primeval forests. By 1921, the first grove was purchased by the League in what is now Humboldt Redwood SP. The League has contributed over $57 million to protect 170,000 acres of redwood land in the 35 California State Parks, Redwood National Park and Sequoia National Park. And I, for one, want to thank those prominent men for having the foresight to save these magnificent, ancient trees for our enjoyment.
The greatest accumulation of plant mass EVER recorded on earth is a redwood stand in Humboldt Redwoods SP. This temperate rainforest has seven times the biomass (living and dead organic material) of that found in a tropic rainforest.
Fossil records show that redwoods grew naturally across the Northern Hemisphere. Due to climate changes and other factors, Coastal Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 mile wide and 450 mile long coastal strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey County in California.
The redwoods can reach heights of 350+ feet (equivalent to a 30 story building), with a diameter of 17 feet and a circumference of 32 feet, and can live in three climatic zones at once. The base of each tree is in one set of climatic conditions, the stem in another, and the crown in yet another. Redwoods need great amounts of moisture. The 65 inches per year average rainfall plus the summer fog moderate the climate. A very large redwood can release up to 500 gallons of water into the air each day. The age of some of these giant trees predate the fall of Rome!
These trees are so large that you can make a house out of one log. If fact, we went inside one such house right across the street from our RV Park.
I read a book named “The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring”, by Richard Preston several years back where the author journeys into the perpendicular universe of the world’s tallest redwoods. The upper canopy of the trees is an environment all of its own. There are plants, bugs and small animals living in the upper canopy that NEVER venture down to earth. The upper canopy is one of the most vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems on this continent. There are crazy people that climb to the top (using specialized equipment) and actually camp up there! They string hammocks and sleep there for days at a time. Now that is something I wish they would make a documentary about so I could actually see what camping at the top of a giant redwood would be like.
As you may be able to tell…I was awestruck by these ancient, giant redwoods.
On the way back we stopped at a café for an early dinner, and at a vegetable stand for some veggies and a frozen blackberry pop cycle, then headed back to the rig. We left the next day and drove 175 miles to our first stop along the Oregon Coast: Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon.
Here’s a few photos that will give you an idea of how large these giants are.