Walking with Giants

We woke up to a gorgeous sunny Sunday in Eureka and after grabbing a quick breakfast, we headed north on the famous Highway 101 of Northern California. It’s probably one of the most famous and popular road trip roads in the world and it’s easy to see why. The road hugs the rugged Pacific Ocean coast line and weaves in and out around the bends with the ocean crashing on one side, whipping up mist and fog.

We made a quick stop at Clam Beach, a large sandy beach, with big dunes and camping facilities. We took a little walk on the beach and soaking up the fresh air, it was just as cold and windy as it was sunny and bright.

To gather information on the Redwood National Park we stopped at Thomas H Kuchel Visitor’s centre, where a happy and helpful park ranger gave us all the maps and leaflets we needed, along with information on the area and some tips of where to stop off.

The Coast Redwood’s are the tallest trees living on earth, growing thousand’s of years old and up to 115 metres high – that’s as tall as a 30-storey building! They like the temperate humid climate the Pacific Ocean offers on the Northern California coast, with the heavy winter rain and the persistent summer fog that rolls in they get all the precipitation they need.

We headed to Lady Bird Johnson Grove first, a short and easy trail which is a bit higher up at about 1200 feet above sea level. The grove is named after the former first lady of Lyndon B Johnson, it was dedicated to her by President Nixon in recognition of her work and dedication of preserving the natural beauty of America. As we stepped out of the car we were astonished by what we thought were big trees, but it was when we headed into the forest and onto the trail that we really started to see the Giant Redwoods. They were enormous and it was hard to take them all in, in fact it was impossible to look at one tree and see all of it in one glance. Some of them have grown together at the base, like siamese twin tree, some even growing three, four and five together! A few trees have been damaged from forest fires hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago. But Redwood’s actually survive fires, they can be hollowed out at the bottom and still continue to grow taller at the top. We walked inside burnt and hollowed out tree trunks, some of them so big that you could comfortably set up camp  and sleep inside them, in fact I’ve had London bedrooms with less space. It felt a bit like walking in giant land!

After gawping at the Lady Bird Johnson trees, we headed onto the road that takes you right through the Redwood National State Park. Our second stop was the trail that led us to Big Tree, which is said to be the third biggest tree in the Redwood National Parks. It is over 92 metres high, has a diameter of 6.6 metres and a circumference of almost 21 metres, with an estimated age of a mere 1500 years! After picking my jaw up from the ground and again nearly  breaking my neck from trying to see the top of it, I walked up to it and gave it a hug. Big Tree is a magnificent piece of living history, it has survived years of change, hundreds of storms and the deforestation that raged and nearly ruined all of the Redwood’s in the late 19th century. So it’s rather humbling to look at a living tree of that age, making me think that my time here on earth is rather insignificant in comparison to Big Tree’s life. I hope it will stand there for at least 500 years more!

We continued our drive north on Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway through the giant forest and headed to Klamath River Overlook, in hope to spot some grey whales. But we had no such luck, however it was not a wasted journey – the views as you look out over the Pacific Ocean is stunning and you can really see that the earth is round. At this point we were getting tiered and hungry, so we drove on to Crescent City, where we took into a cheap motel for the night.

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