Saturday, June 21, 2008

Avenue of the Giants 6.21.08

Today was a busy day! We started out by checking out the ‘Avenue of the Giants’ – a 32 mile drive that parallels Hwy 101 & the Eel River.

It is an old growth redwood forest – the 3rd largest in California – which means the trees are more than 200 years old. It was spectacular. The trees are awe inspiring, absolutely beautiful! And the other flora & fauna in the forest was magical as well. I am still amazed at not only how big & tall the trees are – but how even after they fall, still sustain the forest. It was so cool to see smaller trees sprouting from downed trees, ferns growing from the roots, and all of the other plants in the forest. Ever downed tree supports over 4000 other species. Amazing! It’s hard to get a feel for just how large & tall they are…I hope these pics put some perspective on it!

Some other cool stuff about the California Redwoods:
- They can live over 2,000 years & withstand floods, insects, & fires.
- Trees that fall are left to decompose naturally & it’s estimated it will take 200-400 years to fully be absorbed into the forest floor.
- Living, they support over 1700 species of plants/animals and dead, they can support over 4000!
- The bark can grow up to 12 inches deep!
- There are 3 different types – Coastal Redwoods, the tallest of the bunch, Giant Sequoia’s, the largest, and Dawn Redwoods – found mostly in China but still resides in California and is distinguished by it’s smaller size & different leaves.
- Coastal Redwoods grow in a narrow strip along the Pacific Coast of California & southwestern Oregon. Giant Sequoias grow only in the Sierra Nevada’s western slope.

When we started out on the Avenue of the Giants, we didn’t have a map of the area and just winged it, driving along until it looked like a good place to stop. We ended up stopping alongside the road where the ‘Mahan plaque’ was placed. We walked into the trail and found ourselves on the Dyerville Loop – a trail that took us to the tallest in the world redwood – the Dyerville Giant. It fell in 1991 and was measured at 370 feet – six times taller than the statue of liberty or two feet taller than Niagara Falls!!

The above pic is me on top of it...and the below one is me taking a photo of Michael at ground level!!

It is estimated to be 1600 years old and was taller, older, & larger than all the others around it. It fell when another tree fell & hit it, knocking it over. A Ranger in the area when it fell thought a train had derailed – that’s how loud it was!! It’s now decomposing, housing lots of other plants & animals, though it looks like it could have fallen just yesterday.

We stopped at the ‘Immortal Tree’, one that is technically dead, although branches still grow from it. It’s called immortal as it survived the 1963 flood, a logger’s axe, & was struck by lightning, knocking off a 50 foot section on top. We also visited the ‘Chimney Tree’ which was burned by fire which hollowed it from the inside.

From there, we continued North to the North entrance, jumped on the 101 and drove to Shelter Cove, a black sand, smooth pebbly beach about 15 miles west of Garberville.

Though we’re not sure they calculated it right – it was a crazy windy road, up & down the mountain until you finally got to the beach – it had to have been further than 15 miles!! The beach was very pretty – small pebbles & black sand. I was looking forward to a little ocean rehabilitation for my leg, but no such luck – the ocean was too rough & the riptides were threatening.

We meandered up & down the beach, checking out the surf & area. We saw this cool starfish while walking – it was very unique we just had to snap a picture!

The beach was not volcanic, just black shale. It was beautiful and is part of an area called the ‘Lost Coast’ – though it’s a drive to get there, no wonder no one comes to visit! When we arrived, there was only one other couple on the entire beach. Nice!!

After Shelter Cove, we went back up the ‘Avenue of the Giants’, this time from the South (and we had a map this time!).

Our campground is called Burlington & is just past the ½ way point of the drive & the very large Humboldt Redwoods State Park Information center. We gathered up my clothes & headed to the Laundromat just down the road in Myers Flat (we have instituted a strict use it, wash it, policy for anything I touch as my poison oak is very bad). I feel like a wimp because I’ve read of people who get poison oak over 60-80% of their body! I only have it on my legs & arms and am suffering. The large patch on my left leg is the worst – it is about the size of a large grapefruit, has oozing blisters and hurts (read – itches so badly it hurts) like hell! The other spots are not so bad – two spots on my left arm (about a quarter size), about 12 individual spots on my right lower leg, a large patch on my upper right leg about the size of an orange, and even a few bumps on my belly button!! I’ve learned…I hate poison oak & will do everything in my power not to get it again! And that Benadryl is my friend…haha.

OK, back to laundry. It adds up quick!! Especially with the changing temperatures. We drove into the town of Myers Flat where the ‘Drive thru tree’ is located and spent the time that the clothes were in the washer to explore that area. I’ve read that the drive-thru tree was the first ‘attraction’ in the area – there were some interesting places to explore & of course take a picture or two! After the clothes were finished in the washer, we walked to Riverbend Cellars for some wine tasting. We met Bob there, who explained everything we needed to know about wine in this area (that’s Bob in the background!). They had 5 wines to try, and we ended up in a split decision between the Coquette, & the Firehouse Red. We ended up with bringing the Coquette back to camp with us. Check it out at

Back at camp, it was dinner & a campfire (the temps were down into the 60’s) and off to bed for an early morning to pack & head to the Redwoods!!

Oh, my favorite quote that I saw today was “I feel most emphatically that we should not turn a tree which was old when the first Egyptian conqueror penetrated the valley of the Euphrates….into shingles.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

More to follow…


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