Orick, CA

Hiking: 8.8 mi / ft. climbing
Home: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park hiker/biker campsite

My dew detector was right on: our rain fly was so soaked, outside and in, that by early-morning it was dripping inside the tent. Under totally clear moonlit sky. At least things that are inside our panniers or inside the bear box don’t get wet, and the dew-detector let us know that we needed to get everything packed away, but wet camp mornings are still pretty unpleasant. Adding to the discomfort, we recorded a new tour-record low of 35 degrees. Even though the forecast had showed a low of 47?! The redwoods must create some wild microclimates, which I guess isn’t surprising given their mass and shade. At least this morning, for perhaps the first morning on tour, once the sun cleared the redwoods across the prairie, it was like a glorious warming oven radiating into our campsite. Ahh…

Sunrise and aerogel over Elk Prairie, with the redwoods shadowed against the sky.

Today’s event was a 9-mile hike through the greatest forest we’ve ever hiked through. Up the West Ridge trail and back down the Prairie Creek trail, the sheer numbers, density, and variety of huge redwoods surpassed what we saw at Jedediah Smith, although for me the Stout Grove remains unsurpassed as a singular grove. I wonder how many people skip this state park in the Redwood National/State Park chain simply because “Prairie Creek” isn’t very accurate branding. But I suppose if they called it “Huge Fukkin’ Trees Everywhere State Park”, we wouldn’t have had the whole forest nearly to ourselves for hours!

The 30-foot high, 10-foot diameter cave made by this tree might be outclassed by the cascading waves of burl roiling down it’s flanks.
Rett beneath the cradling circle.
It’s so hard to communicate the scale in photos, but I think Rett helped me come close in this one.

A trio of slightly older gentlemen rolled into the hiker/biker area as we were relaxing and snacking post-hike. Unlike yesterday’s false alarm, these guys were genuinely heading south along the same route as us, marking the first Coast Caravan members we’d seen in a week. We had not been the rear-guard after all! Except, tomorrow they’re doing 50-some miles while we’re doing 20-some. So once again, we’ll be the sweepers. D’oh! At least, when I related to them our constant dilemma of racing the weather vs. seeing the sights, one of them put in his vote for seeing the sights since we have the time. I’ll take that wisdom to heart and see if has any effect on the balancing scale.

Unlike last night, when the camp host was off-duty all day (Elk Prairie Campground has probably been the worst/least-run campground we’ve been in so far), we were able to buy a bundle of firewood for the low low California price of $10 (that’s equal to the price of our campsite for the night; imagine your “utilities” costing as much as your “rent”!) At least it was dry and burned well for that price! So even though it was due to be another cold wet night, the fire at least let us stay outside a bit further into the dark.



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2 responses to “Orick, CA”

  1. Kenneth Gregie Avatar
    Kenneth Gregie

    Having tried before, recording the scale of those behemoths is near impossible. But you did a great job on that last photo Neil ! And the cave tree reminded me, in a way, of a nice Hobbit home (maybe because I’m in the middle of re-reading The Lord of the Rings?)

    1. neil Avatar

      Wow, that’s crazy, because you’ll see in my next post, a more-commercial “cave tree” was described to us as a “Hobbit tree” (even though hobbits didn’t exactly live in trees).

      In the big redwood groves, it’s almost impossible for us to not see spiral staircases of Lothlorien winding up their trunks (which were at least in the movies, I don’t remember if those were described in the books?)

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