06 December 2018

Hennessy Ridge and the world's largest tan oak

Six Rivers National Forest

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After finding no trails coming up to the ridge and the "world's largest tan oak" from near the rest area below, I drove up to Hennessy Ridge. It feels silly to drive more than 10 miles to get 0.9 miles away, but there is some climbing as well. There are a couple roads up and the one signed for Hennessy Peak is not bad. It was once paved for the length from the paved South Fork Road up to the ridge, so has a few deep potholes to look out for. Once on the ridge, there is a spur road. This was paved once for a short way, but after that is often one lane and, since I overshot the tan oak, eventually has areas where the vegetation drags along both sides of the car. I parked at the edge of a longer two lane section just past a blocked road heading up to the ridge that I hoped was the higher ridge route shown on a map I looked at before but do not have.

open single lane with trees all around
A single lane section of the road where passing could be had if someone wanted it badly enough.

The clouds are still rising and just barely rose above the road as I got to the ridge. It means I can see the trees, at least. That is about all I can see anyway. The old road is blocked with a high pile of dirt that has a well worn path around the edge. The path makes me think it might be what I am looking for to meet this big tree.

tall pine trees
No redwoods here, but the furs are still quite tall and hung with lichen in a lovely way.

big tan oak
Not the one, but that is quite a large tan oak.

The old road goes quite a ways in the wrong direction before finally coming to the edge of the ridge and turning upward. A huge tan oak presides over the turn. I am rather surprised to see rubber water bars crossing the road as it climbs back the other way. Someone has put an effort into this route. It is definitely the one I was looking for.

Tunnel Flat and down to Trinity River

Six Rivers National Forest

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There seem to be almost no hiking opportunities near 299 as it passes through Six Rivers National Forest. There is a trail way at the end of South Fork Road and then one at the end of Denny Road. That second one is actually in Shasta-Trinity National Forest though. You're supposed to come here to raft. There is also a point marked on the visitor map high on Hennessy Ridge that says "World's largest tan oak" and a rest area with mysterious trails in the back just 0.9 miles from it. It is also 1500 feet, give or take, up. If they don't have a trail up to the tan oak from the highway, I feel like they have missed a trick, but it would be reasonable to expect it to be marked if they do. Anyway, I am going to see where these trails go.

overhanging moss covered tree
The bit of trail out the back of the rest area.

rest area below through the trees
It's a nice little rest area.

It doesn't take long to find where the trail goes. It goes to the highway again. There is a road above the trail and a spur climbs up to it, but it just goes to the highway a little further up the road. There is an old fuel break climbing steeply between the trees with a use trail up it. I wouldn't believe it was one, but someone has dug trenches across it to reduce erosion. It is so narrow, the trees touch above, but I guess if a fire were in the crown, a little bit of separation isn't likely to hinder it much. The trail is hard to follow up and just comes to some abandoned belongings. They look like the abandonment was not voluntary. Above that, there is a choose your own adventure of game trails, but I am not so sure I really want to do that for 1500 feet up, give or take. I am sure I could eventually, but I could just drive up instead. It does feel a little wasteful to drive 10-15 miles to get 0.9 miles away, but cold and clouds are sitting on the ridge I would be climbing to and other excuses.

entry to Tunnel Flat area
And there is a tantalizing sign for something called "Tunnel Flat" across the highway.

28 November 2018

Beith Creek Loop

Arcata Community Forest

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Out for a quick loop hike while there is clear air and patches of sun. Oh, and the threat of rain. In fact, it is actually sprinkling a little as I start, but I have my rain coat and the trees will probably put an end to most the thin drops. Sure, they'll replace them with big drips, but it takes a lot of thin drops to make a big drip.

horses in the field through the trees
Not so deep in the dark forest looking out on the neighborhood horses.

redwood leavings covered path through the redwoods
The eyes adjust and it is not too dark to follow the path through the redwoods even covered with redwood leavings.

I know there are some spots up high to look out to Humboldt Bay, so power up the road to the top so that the weather has the least amount of time to fill in the air with rain or mist. Of course, the weather doesn't need more than a few minutes and it takes me longer to get to the top.

huge tree stump from when the woods were cut
On big stump cut off bluntly. This is a second growth forest, so the trees are tight and much smaller.

20 November 2018

Grasshopper Mountain and Johnson Camp Loop

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

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I was wanting to do some redwoods "properly" meaning, well, wander beneath them for a while trying to look up far enough to see the top. Probably. I'm not really sure. But redwoods. Properly. I noticed I could find some and get a peak as well and went for it. I also noted that it is a bit of a long hike and I would want to use all the light of this short day and started off very early. The route up the mountain starts with a fire road signed as "lookout". The main parking at the bottom of the road is all signed no parking from sunset to 8 AM making it illegal for another 1.5 hours and I don't want the pressure of getting down before sunset (after all, there is still some light available after sunset) so continued on to something unsigned next to the gate. It is still quite dark as I park and a little lighter once my shoes are on, but still too dark for the camera to autofocus on the gate for a picture of that start. Light enough to walk without getting out the lamp.

redwoods with just enough light to see the bark
Looking up and trying to see the tops. At first they were just black silhouettes, but the light is quickly growing and showing the bark to be quite light.

The trail is the fire road and reputed to have nearly no views until the top. The day is gearing up for a storm tomorrow, so I rather expect no views even when I get there. That doesn't matter, the point is the trees. The view in the middle is a bonus if it comes. For now, I can see the ghost of some hills through the trees in a few places. The dawn is giving the sky the faintest rust color but otherwise the only indication of the rising sun is how quickly everything is getting brighter.

faint hills behind thick, tall trees
One could certainly imagine that there is a hill back there behind the thick trees.

The road splits and my instinct is to go on the one that goes up, but it is signed to help save me from that error. The right fork finds its way up Squaw Creek Ridge and maybe more, but not to the peak. The left fork is signed Grasshopper Multiuse Trail, so that is where I go. It stays rather flat and even drops a little, but is going to the peak. I must just have a little faith. Or a map to show that I'm just going around the side of one bump to get at the larger one further away. Just one reason it is nice to have a map.

road and lots of trees
Lots of trees that aren't redwoods, too. The madrone particularly stands out.

I am suddenly aware of the sound of water flowing. It takes a little longer to actually spot some water, and then the road crosses a couple courses. A trough is provided next to one, although the hosing getting water into it needs some work. It is still nearly half full and the next few months will probably keep it full enough.

a few yellow leaves down a stream
Looking down the smaller of the streams to their join. The hint of fall is here.