We got a fairly early start on our drive to the redwoods on the 5th of July. After packing up and stopping into Stimulus for some Coffee and Breakfast sandwiches, we headed south.
Our first stop was a surf check between Pacific City and Newport. We weren't planning on surfing since we had pretty good hope that the waves would be good down towards Crescent City, but we figured we'd check it out anyway. We were tempted by some waist high glassy waves, sunny skies, and beautiful clear water. But, with most of the Oregon Coast and possibly bad traffic ahead of us, we figured that we should make progress down the road. Plus, it has become a bit of a tradition to go to Rogue Brewery when we pass through Newport. Rogue is always a good time, and we decided to get some lunch there. It didn't disappoint us, but a surf session would have been nice too.
The coastline South of Newport is stunning. This was my first time on that stretch of coast, and I will surely be back. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore along the steep cliffs, and there are surely good waves on the right day. This wasn't really the right day, but the potential is inspiring.
To our surprise, traffic was extremely mellow, and we made it to our campground in Northern California with time to spare before sunset. We set up camp among some relatively young (and already huge) redwoods, made a fire, and cooked a pretty gourmet camping dinner of sausage and veggies. Our meals were the main benefit to our over-packing (including bacon, eggs, and potatoes, and coffee on our mini stove the next morning). It wasn't exactly roughing it, but we still felt refreshingly removed from our jobs and worries by being in such a beautiful environment.
Exploring the old growth redwoods for the next couple of days was such a unique experience. Some of the trees are a couple thousand years old, and it actually took a little while for me to fully appreciate their scale. When you see them in relation to the size of a person or the size of a car, what looks like it could simply be a big tree is revealed as being truly giant. Whoa. Plenty of trees have a diameter of about 20 - 30 feet! It took Analisa about 7 second to run around one of them, and she can be pretty fast. We had so much fun hiking, discovering, learning, and laughing in the redwoods for a couple of days.
It's sad to me how few of these trees are left. The old growth redwood forest is only 5% of the size that it used to be due to excessive logging. It's understandable since one tree can provide enough wood to build over 20 houses, but it will take way too many years to replace trees of that size for it to be remotely sustainable. Because of the unique climate of the area, these massive trees grow nowhere else in the world. Luckily the majority of the trees that remain are protected, but it still won't be an easy task to replace what has been cut down. Let's hope that within another couple thousand years that the forest will regain most of it's original size.
Besides hiking through the trees and swimming in the Caribbean clear Smith River, we went to the coast to surf what we hoped would be a fun little south swell in Crescent City. Unfortunately, it was essentially flat. At least we had been having such a good time that it didn't really matter. Maybe we should've paddled out around Newport even though it wouldn't have been the most convenient time. Lesson learned. Hopefully we would find some waves on the drive back north. The photos from that part of the trip will be in my next post.