There are numerous California state parks and, of course, the Redwood National Park that protect and allow visitors to enjoy the vast bounties of the northern California coast, especially the massive redwood trees. We drove along the Avenue of the Giants, one of the neatest roads that we’ve driven along our entire road trip (more than 7,000 miles now!). There were many scenes similar to the one above where the redwoods just towered over us and little Sofi as we drove through. Luckily we’re early in the season and there was very little traffic so we were able to drive slowly.
We stayed at the Elk Prairie campground in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park just north of Orick, California. Along the front of the campground, separating the road from the camp sites is a large field where deer and elk graze. People stop to watch them, and they don’t seem to mind. Every once in a while the large male (center in the photo above) would lift and turn his head as to say “Do you see how big my antlers are? Please don’t come any closer.” Kate and I went for a walk along the edge of this field and enjoyed seeing the family of eight just meander through the field, stopping to rest and just taking it easy. You don’t often to get to see wildlife like this up close and personal in the wild and we enjoyed every moment of it.
The photo above is one I almost used for the ‘Photo Of The Week’ for last week, but decided against it. I snapped this photo early on day 46 on our way north out of the Redwood National Park area. I leaned as close to the tree as I could and tried to capture the texture of the bark, this particular tree was probably about eight feet in diameter and by the markings on its trunk looked as though it had been through quite a bit.
One of the most interesting things that I learned through reading the literature and posted signs provided by the state and national parks service is about the life cycle of the redwood trees and the ecosystem that they support. I really like the photo above because it shows a grouping of trees, often referred to as a ‘family’ huddled together in the forest. You can see there is an old rotting stump there, where a giant once stood. The fallen tree serves as a home to small animals and many plants, and as it decomposes provides essential nutrients for its neighbors. Many of the trees above shared root systems and were quite interdependent on one another. In contrast, one of the interesting things we learned is that when a redwood catches fire it has a defense mechanism to limit the damage – it becomes an almost chimney, keeping the heat and fire within the tree as to not let it spread to nearby trees and causing widespread damage. Our experience in the Redwood State and National Parks was a truly educational one, and I now have a much greater appreciation for these trees and others of a more normal size right in my own back yard.