When I last looked up, the sky was dark and star-studded. The next time I open my eyes, it's bright out. I feel refreshed and happy, not as if I have had only three or four hours of sleep. I look towards the car, Flavia and Matt are still asleep. Not wanting to wake them, I pull on my shoes and stretch for a while, basking in the morning sun. Then I pack up, pop the trunk, and pack things into the trunk. The noise wakes my passengers and, in a few moments, we're cruising North again.
When we reach the first grove of Redwoods, I pull over and we wander among them. Intellectually, you know the trees are big. But they are much bigger when you are among them.
The visitor's center depicts a typical wildlife scene in a Redwood Forest (I jest! But it reminds me of a diorama I saw in Alaska once). They've also got some logging equipment on display (twelve foot long saws!) and even a truck carved from the trunk of a Redwood.
A fine misting rain is falling when leave the visitor's center. But it gets lost as we drive in under the trees. I've found two trails for us to take, the first being through the Founder's Grove.
The Grove is named for the founders of the Save the Redwoods League. Founded in 1918, the league has used private donations and funding from the sate and other sources to buy land. In total, they've protected 189,000 acres (760 km2) of Redwood forest. 60% of the redwoods in California's state and national parks are protected as a result of actions by the League.
This growth on the tree is more than a hundred feet above its roots
We find the fallen trunk of the Dyerville Giant. Once the tallest known Redwood it was 372.05 ft (113.40 m) high and estimated to be 1,600 years old. A taller Redwood (Hyperion at 379.3 ft) has since been found, but the Dyerville Giant is just… massive. After leaving the Dyerville Gian we realize that our off-trail wandering has turned us around, making our hike much shorter. Oh well, we continue driving, for we have many miles to go. Next stop: the Drury-Chaney Loop.
As we go along, I'm glad to have Matt traveling with me. He's a bit irreverant and tends to climb on everything, which naturally invites us to climb up with him. As a result, we see things from angles we'd otherwise miss.
Matt and I are also both tree climbers. Down in Australia he climbs 170 foot Eucalyptus trees at $30/hr, and then transmutes this funding into traveling. I think most of his work's with removal because he mentions using spiked shoes several times; my own technique is meant to minimize damage to the tree through the extensive use of rope systems. Either way, when we stand together and stare upwards, we're agreed that accessing the Redwood canopy would be no small matter. The lowest branches on the trees are at least a hundred feet above us—and they're all dead! Higher up above them there are live branches, but snaking a rope through the dead branches wouldn't be easy. I came very close to bringing my equipment with me on this trip, but now I'm glad I left it behind. This will require a second journey.
As we emerge from the trail, the weather's changed from rainy to sunny. Arcata, Humboldt State University, and Redwood National Park all lie before us as I pull back onto the road.