01 April 2020

Redwood EdVentures Quest at Redwood Park

Arcata Community Forest

Click for rough map.

My second backpacking trip on the Lost Coast fizzled with an email that permits were suspended on the 28th. Mine was for the 29th finishing today, so no additional watching the sea lions play for me. I guess it saved me from one dreary rain day and a second rather heavy rain day. What to do? Another Quest? There's one at the Arcata Community Forest. It's just the smallest circle through the trees beside Redwood Park. The lots are open for parking with just a sign stating that the gates will actually be getting locked after January. I'm sure I'll be out before dark. I found my way to the larger lot which is also the lesser used, so there was plenty of space. There are a few groups using the park. A slackline hangs slack at one end by a group of three spread out and a larger group of 20-somethings are collected at the other end almost spread out. Otherwise, there's a few singles scattered about the grass with one trying to get a big kite decorated with a dragon up into the wind. He doesn't seem to be having much luck. He's probably standing too close to the tall tree wind break behind him. So it's a perfectly ordinary park, except for the torn up caution tape decorating the playground equipment. The Quest begins on the far side of the grass at trail #1.

Lots of space in Redwood Park at the moment. The equipment doesn't look as tough as the stuff we got as kids, but then our stuff always had a bit that wiggled a lot.

My tramp across the grass is forestalled when I notice the bright red of rhododendron at the edge. They're in bloom! Well, two of them growing with far more sun than usual are.

red rhodadendron flowers
Showy red flowers of a bush with big plain leaves. There's rhododendron in bloom.

And then past the sign for the trail and into the forest. The forest here has a floor cleared by being so close to the park. Many feet have wandered it even where the paths do not go. I'm sticking to the path and looking for an octopus tree. I've been thinking those are the ones that split into numerous trunks or suddenly have a bunch of branches decide they should also be trunks, but there's a picture to help me find the tree they mean and it suggests they mean something different.

solid bench and open skinny trees
Lots of young trees with few ferns beneath at the edge of the park.

tree growing on root ball
A sort of octopus tree growing up from the root of a fallen tree. But not the one they mean.

High up, there really is a lot of wind for that kite to grab. I have to watch the trees sway for a little bit. They never sway the same and the spaces around them are constantly changing when the wind blows.

26 March 2020

Hookton Slough Trail

Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Click for map.

The second trail on Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge has a parking lot on up the road, but they've closed the gate on that one too. Parking is a little harder to come by nearby, but I did manage to get off the pavement safely to give the trail a try. There's no long hike to get to it from the road.

closed gate on the trail parking
Another closed gate, but a lot closer to the regular trail parking.

yellow and white in the grass
Daffodils have joined the wild onions in bloom here.

The trail is nice and wide to keep that mandatory "social distancing" if there was anyone else here. The slough is along the right side and water puddles on the left. It is split off from the ocean by the dyke the trail follows, but is likely to be a little brackish. The ducks and herons and egrets seem to like that side better.

gravel trail wide enough to drive on
Some of that wide trail beside the slough.

great egret with wispy feathers
Great egret stalking along some sort of dry land.

Shorebird Loop Trail

Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Click for map.

Under the Humboldt County shelter-in-place order, we are allowed to get outside for exercise with the caveat that "social distancing" is mandatory. They also define the physical distancing that is being referred to as social distancing. I have a permit for more Lost Coast Trail exploration, but realized I still have some closer exploration I could do. I found two trails to try out on the wildlife refuge. For my first hike, I went for the Shorebird Loop Trail which includes another Redwood EdVenture Quest. Due to COVID-19, the gate is closed, but there is a large dirt lot just outside it and the sign on the gate only states the visitor center and bathrooms are closed. Trails are still open. Since that visitor center is more than a mile away, that does mean I'll be walking more to access the trail than I will on the trail itself. Well, I need plenty of walking.

gate blocking the road
No public vehicle entry at this time.

There's a few other cars in the lot, so I expect I'll see a few other people. The paved road is lined by flowers and ditches and the freeway. It's a relatively quite freeway, at least. There are people along the way. One enjoying the sunshine with a gentle sprawl in the road and others walking. That social distancing is easy to maintain even around the sprawled fellow.

wild onion bells
The lovely white bells of these wild onions.

There's a turnout with a cluster of signs along the way. Well, it's real easy to stop while walking, so I go over to have a look. It says that not all those Canada geese out there are actually a Canada goose. Here, they get an Aleutian goose or two too. It is a triumph because it was declared an Endangered Species in 1967 (one of the first) and off the list in 2001.

turnout along the way
A field provided for the Aleutian goose, which eats a lot of grass.

flooded field
The fields have a bit more water in them than was apparent at first. The building on the right is the visitor center.

19 March 2020

Redwood EdVentures Quest at Arcata Marsh

Arcata Wildlife Refuge

Click for map.

Click for rough map.

R saw my patch from the Redwood EdVentures Quest along the Hidden Valley Trail in the King Range and said she wanted one too. I'm not sure if she would do that one because hills are involved, besides it's rather far to go for a short hike. I know she pokes around Arcata Marsh sometimes, so suggested we try the one based there. I wanted to get out for the first day of spring. (Isn't it a bit early for that? Farmers Almanac says it's the earliest in 124 years.) R needed a little extra motivation go just do it, but the county shelter-in-place order taking effect at midnight provided enough push. We're not exactly what we can do after it. I was a little worried there would be others thinking they better get out before getting locked up, but the parking lot has lots of room and the paths aren't crowded. Of course, the Interpretive Center is already closed for the duration. The Quest starts there where there is a puzzle that shows in layers all the things this area was in the past. That sounds fun to play with, but also a nightmare to try to keep germ free. We'll have to be back to check it out.

tide out a bit so there's mud
A little bit of water in the creek flowing out over the tidal flats.

We set off for the next stop. This one has a tendency to use benches and signs as stopping points, so it's easy to figure out where we should go. We get to learn about the various things this land has been anyway. First up is the plywood mill that once sat where the Interpretive Center is now. There are still posts driven into the ground to mark its location. We take it in, and the sign about otters, but our greatest attention for a bit is a snowy egret and then a multitude of the things.

snowy egret walking the slough
The snowy egret is hunting in the slough.

There's more egrets on the far side of the bridge.

fight and flight
A fight seemed to break out between the egrets.

Since this place is now a wildlife refuge, the egrets are part of its history, too. The part happening right now.

13 March 2020

more big trees

John B. Dewitt Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Click for map.

I spotted the parking lot on my drive in and it seemed to scream, "There's a hiking trail here!" It seemed like an excellent place to stop and use a few more of the hours of daylight left in the day. Unfortunately, the information board beside the parking lot only offers about six different notices about regulations that apply to here. No dogs. No camping. All the usual and a few esoteric. There's no map or anything else to indicate a nearby trail.

sign below the tall redwoods
A sign among the old growth redwoods.

The road with the parking area actually continues after a gate. The sign would seem to indicate that it is eventually a driveway. So there's that to hike. I start up it under the old growth.

all about the base
A history of fire is written on the old trunks.

trebble too
Looking up up up.

There actually are lots of little trails. I follow a step carved into a fallen trunk to a little garden of wild flowers, but the trail goes nowhere further. The flowers are nice to see. They seem to be really getting going now.

Hidden Valley, Quest Trail

King Range National Conservation Area (BLM)

Click for rough map. I remember starting and then stopping the GPS to get a track, but there was none for this hike in the GPS.

The second stop after finishing my Lost Coast backpacking trip is actually at the north end of the southern section of the Lost Coast Trail. This is generally not considered at all or considered as the part in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, but there's actually about 7 miles on BLM land before the 22 miles on state park land. My interest for today is a short nature trail. The box beside the trailhead has both the lovely free maps and a Redwood EdVentures Quest brochure. I've seen these around a few times. It says that if I bring in my Quest Clue to the King Range Office, I can get a prize. Well, I'm already planning to stop there, so I think I very well might.

sign at the start of the trail
The start of the Discovery Trail and the middle of the Lost Coast Trail.

The quest is like an interpretive trail, but there are no posts with numbers on them. Instead, there are instructions to get to the location of the stop. For the first one, I am to walk to the "second rock-lined open drainage" with the trouble being that I only see one. Um. The instructions for the next stop put a boundary condition on where I should be for the first and the map of the trail on the brochure includes the positions of the stops, so I can get it sufficiently close anyway. The information is told in rhyme. Um, again. I have a bit of a negative emotional reaction to rhyming outside of songs or Shel Silverstein. It's utterly irrational, so I try to let it go.

reeds and a line of trees between trail and grass stream
Learning about riparian areas. This one has a lovely little grassy stretch around the stream just the other side of the trees lining the trail.

The next steps are a little easier, although I stop a bit too soon at a thin leaning madrone and have to realize that a few steps further to the large leaning madrone pointing at the mossy oak (just like it says in the brochure) gives a much better view at what they're talking about in the next rhyme. I do wonder how one would do this if they didn't know what a madrone is.

well trod trail to the left and almost grass covered to the right
Turn right at the fork. It doesn't look well trod, but it is signed and it gets more clear further along.

leaning madrone on one side of a grassy field and a dark mossy oak on the other
Stop at the "leaning madrone tree at the edge of the meadow that points at the mossy oak." The big oak on the far side of the meadow, almost visible under the madrone from this angle, is quite large and mossy.

Mal Coombs Park

King Range National Conservation Area (BLM)

Click for map.

First stop after the last short day backpacking was Mal Coombs Park for a short look about and to grab a single geocache. The park has picnic tables and playground equipment and grass, but that's not interesting to me. The good stuff is down the steps where there's more tide pooling. Oh, and the Cape Mendocino lighthouse has been relocated to it. I first stopped at the pair of signs at the top of the steps that help identify the animals that might be found down below. They also hold the information I needed to determine the actual coordinates for the geocache. I got a bit antsy about how long it was taking me to sort out the details with the tide coming in and the pools getting less accessible. I could just go down and sort the coordinates after, but that wouldn't be efficient if the coordinates came out down by the beach. Efficiency is something to strive for more in running errands around town, not in poking around a beach side park.

sea lions on the far rocks
The noisy sea lions on the far rocks are calling.

I headed down the steps after getting coordinates that I still wasn't sure were were exactly. The tide pools were in the process of getting flooded by the tide. There were still quite a lot and big ones. It must be a really good place for tide pooling when the tide is low enough.

Shelter Cove
This is the far north point of the actual cove that is Shelter Cove.

Redwood EdVentures Quest at Redwood Park

Arcata Community Forest Click for rough map. My second backpacking trip on the Lost Coast fizzled with an email that permits were s...