Saturday we woke up ready for our big hike across the width of the park. With lunch packed and extra water, we drove to the welcome center to begin our 6 hour hike.
In the beginning, our energy was high. We chatted and came up with new hypothetical questions for each other, like what creatures we’d put in a saltwater fish tank if we didn’t have to take care of it. Interestingly, we both said octopus. After the first hour we got quieter, stopping every once and a while to listen to the forest. With our feet crunching the pine needle floor, it was tough to appreciate birds calling in the distance or wind sighing over the trees. But in those moments of stopping and listening, the forest seemed louder than ever.
I read on one of the park signs that John Steinbeck described the Redwoods as “a Cathedral of silence”. With no technical sounds like cars or phones (no service the entire trip for me) all of the natural sounds became amplified. While this wasn’t the first time I’d noticed this about a forest, standing in the Redwoods just felt grander.
After hiking to the coast and back, we were tired and ready to relax. Unfortunately this took longer than it should have as we drove farther South than we planned, and then had to drive even further South to the closest restaurant. It is crazy how spread out things are in the very North of California.
We spent the night at a motel, I won’t lie– it was nice to be in a real bed again! We were too far South to go hiking in more Redwood forests, so we switched up our Sunday plans and headed to the coast. Somewhere off the highway we found an awesome KOA beach campsite area that we were able to park at for free. Walking in the waves and sitting on a big rock just watching the sea was so calming. Even without having a typical 9-5 job, it is still challenging at times for me to be in the moment and enjoy things. Trips like this help remind me that sometimes it is good to take a break from everything and disappear from the cell phone service world!
Thursday morning, Ashwin and I packed up the car and headed 6 hours north to the Redwood National Forest. In planning our trip we learned that though dogs were allowed in the campsites, they were not allowed on any of the trails. Ashwin and I decided it was best for all four of us if the doggies stayed home. Between the wonderful doggy sitter/walker I met at the park and our awesome roommate, the dogs had their own mini-staycation!
With awesome snacks, a pop-up tent, sleeping bags, and warm clothes, we were ready to go! Unfortunately, I ended up feeling car sick for most of the drive and missed out on the lovely views of the coast– a combination of a windy roads and being on the passengers side. When we finally arrived at our camping spot in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, we only had an hour of daylight to set up and cook dinner. Many of the sites were already taken by a mixture of RVs and tents, with people gathered around their campfires.
We parked under some tall Redwood trees and unpacked everything we would need for the night. Signs warned to keep all food in the trunk of our car or in the metal bear proof locker nailed into the ground. Ashwin worked on starting a fire to cook our chicken, and between his frat skills and my summer camp skills, we managed to get a good fire going!
Weather.com had promised me 50 degree nights… it felt more like 40’s. I slept in leggings, sweatpants, a flannel shirt and a sweatshirt and I was still cold! In that moment, I wished we could have brought the dogs with us because Snickers could have kept me warmer! I didn’t get much sleep, but our excitement about finally exploring the park got us up and moving.
The lady working at the welcome center gave us great advice on the best trails to hike. Friday we opted for shorter trails since we had to drive into “town” for more ice. We saw some of the largest trees in the park and got to see some Roosevelt Elk up close and personal! I will save my thoughts on the forest itself for the part 2, but for now I think the pictures speak for themselves. Friday was a great introduction to what the park had to offer, and after an evening of more chicken and reading by the fire at our new and improved campsite, Ashwin and I were ready to take on a full day of hiking on Saturday!