19 February 2017

Elk River Trail

Headwaters Forest Reserve



I almost got away with showing the northwest coast of California without rain in winter, but with my days growing short and the weather feeling uncooperative for one last hike, I am out in the rain. The weatherman claims there will not be all that much of it and it should stop pretty soon. Perhaps it will be good to see if my rain jacket is still any good. There is no one in the parking lot as I arrive a bit late in the morning. The rain is coming down harder than I expected and looks settled enough to keep on doing this all week. I just pull on my rain pants and jacket, outfit the pack with its cover, and zip the camera in under the jacket and go. The first mile of this trail is paved anyway.

paved path and detailed signs
The first mile is a paved trail past detailed interpretive signs and a citizen science project.

The climb along the trail beside the river is imperceptible. Redwoods are sparse at first, but increase quickly. This is all second growth with a scattering of gargantuan stumps about. Big signs along the way describe the town of Falk that once housed loggers here. Logging, area plants, and the ultimate effort to conserve the area are all subjects along the way. A second set of tall, thin signs identify a few of the local plants and ask visitors to record the state of it, budding or flowering, in a booklet. Some have soggy protective bags that seem to be meant to hold the booklet, but none actually has a booklet. Most the plants are either leafed out or dormant right now. The weather seems to have won out over this citizen science project for now.

tall sign to record nature
Big leaf maple looking pretty dormant behind a sign asking the public to "help keep a record of nature".

14 February 2017

Trillium Falls

Redwood National Park



There was just enough time for a quick trip around the loop to see Trillium Falls and the old growth before sunset as I passed, so I stopped. I had a plan to include climbing the Berry Glen Trail to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove with this for a longer day of trees but suspect I will not actually get to it. And when I finish, it should be prime time for spotting elk in the nearby meadow, which is even an official viewing spot for such wildlife. For now, I head down the paved path.

start of the trail
Picnic area at the start of the trail.

The parking and picnic area and meadow were once the location of a mill and mill yard harvesting the trees. It was restored to something like its natural state before the trail was opened. The nearby old growth appears to have been left as a show piece.

creek within alders
A once buried creek gurgles down between young trees.

A dirt trail soon splits off the side of the paved path next to a sign with a detailed map of the trail. The sign shows the waterfall is very early in the 2.2 mile loop. The trail climbs easily upward into the tall trees.

view through trees
A bit of the meadow through past the edge of the trees.

Boy Scout Tree Trail

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park



Getting out of the car at the trailhead, there is the sound of a fog horn just at the edge of hearing. It is so quiet that maybe I am imagining it. Perhaps I am homesick. This is certainly not a place where the sea comes to mind, but these are coastal redwoods and the coast is not too far away. It is not a day to think of fog either. Bits of blue can be seen above. I stand within the old growth and reflect upon the differences between this forest and the second growth of the Arcata Community Forest I have walked through a few times. These trees are certainly a lot bigger, but it is more than that. This forest grew up under a previous generation of big trees striving for a bit of sun in that shade. This is a much more open forest.

tree tops
Looking up from beside the road. There is some blue up there.

trailhead sign
A marked trailhead to start from.

In spite of the name of the trail, it does not go to the Boy Scout Tree. It passes near the tree on its way to Fern Falls and there is no sign to point out where exactly. There were no cars as I pulled up, but that changes before I have sorted the things I want to take day hiking from the things in my backpack. This is a popular trail.

forest of giants
Winding through tall, well spaced trees.

Smith River: Old Gasquet Toll Road

Six Rivers National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area



So what did I miss by not crossing the creek and returning along the Old Gasquet Toll Road? Well, besides very wet boots as the sun was dropping into the lower parts of the sky. I drove along the road in the morning. I did have to stop to toss off a few rocks. They were oddly light and one showed some signs that a previous person past should not have rolled over it. And I saw a few of the things I missed.

Middle Fork Smith River
Some better views of the antics the Middle Fork Smith River and tributary creeks get up to.

Melderson grave
Melderson grave. It could use some brush clearing, but is distinctly marked with headstone and other stones. The only writing on it are scratches. Who puts graffiti on a grave?

fog in the canyon
Better views of the morning clouds haunting the canyons.