Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
The weather at Harris Beach continued to be a bit on the cold and cloudy side on Monday and Tuesday August 22nd and 23rd. Monday morning it was sunny and 48 degrees when we got up but the fog rolled back in by 8:30 and we didn’t see the sun again for days. The workload those days was about normal (50 to 60 sites) but it turned out lighter than ever because the Yurt Hosts had no yurts to clean but still needed something to do so they offered to help us. We didn’t get done any earlier than usual (folks were still being slow leaving) but we didn’t work very hard either day.

Wednesday August 24th, we packed a lunch and drove 20 miles south to Crescent City, CA so Walter could have his teeth cleaned. This went very well for a change. The dental office was nice (even if they wanted to know his entire medical history). They took his Delta Dental insurance okay and didn’t insist on doing yet another set of x-rays (which all the other dentists that we’ve visited on the road have required). We were even successful in having Walter’s most recent x-rays from our dentist in Bellevue sent to this dentist for his files. Whoo Hoo.

Once we were done with the dentist, we drove a short distance south of Crescent City to pick up the Howland Hill Road into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (part of Redwoods National Park). The first part of the road is paved and then you reach the gate of the park and it turns to gravel and you immediately enter a redwood wonderland. Most of the way the road is one lane (with turn outs) so you have to drive slowly and carefully because there are LOTS of folks driving this road. But it is well worth it. I got Walter to pull over at the first turn out and got out to capture what I could. Here’s a view of just the road. Notice how it gets narrower as it goes around individual trees.

Howland Hill Road Redwood NP

And here’s a view uphill into the redwood grove.

Howland Hill Road Redwood NP

This grove is huge and just goes on and on and on as the road takes you through a continuous forest of redwoods. In most of the Redwoods National Park you drive to a particular grove and take a hike through a stand of it and then drive on to the next. Here the drive goes through the trees for over 4 miles.

Here and there along the way there are small parking areas where there are trails that take off through the grove. The parking area for the Boy Scout Trail was larger than the others and we found a space along the way to stop and have our lunch. Here’s the view out the window where we stopped for lunch. You may notice all the grey dust on the ferns and lower foliage of the trees. That’s road dust from all the cars driving on the gravel road. It’s not rained here all month and probably not since spring.

Boy scout Trail area Redwood NP

And yes, the sun was out! We’d had a sunbreak or two on the way to Crescent City but it foggy in town (as it has always been every time we’ve been through Crescent City over the years). But heading inland just a ways the sun was out and the temperature was in the mid 60’s—oh joy, oh rapture!

Photographing redwoods is a real challenge. They’re just so darned TALL.

Boy scout Trail area Redwood NP

After lunch we drove on to Stout Grove and ended up having to park along the entry road since the small parking lot was full. The parking lot is on a hillside above the main portion of the trail (and the Smith River) so you go down the hill on a paved trail to actually begin the Stout Grove Loop Trail. Many of the trees here are over 300 feet tall (the tallest redwoods are over 350 feet tall with the Hyperion Tree recorded as the tallest thus far at 379.1 ft.). There are whole groves of trees over 350 feet whose location is kept secret to protect the trees from human impact.

Stout Grove Redwood NP

Here’s the beginning of the loop trail.

Stout Grove Redwood NP

Yes, that’s Walter down there at the bottom of the photo and he forgot his hat so you can actually see his face for a change!

Walter Cooke Stout Grove Redwood NP

I took a lot of photos that didn’t do the trees justice and few that give a little bit of an idea of the joy of this lovely walk.

Stout Grove Redwood NP

We took the River Trail out a ways but we couldn’t see the river and the redwoods ended so we turned back to rejoin the Stout Grove Loop. The sun filtering down through the trees made us both very happy.

Stout Grove Redwood NP

The vine maples (which had started to get a bit of fall color here and there along the coast) were still bright green and I had to stop and photograph them up against the wonderful redwood bark.

Vine Maple against redwood bark

There are lots of old fallen trees along the way.

Now realize, that Walter is 6 feet tall so this tree was more than 6 feet in diameter even a good ways up from its base.     

Walter Cooke fallen redwood Stout Grove

And it has been there a long long time if the amount of graffiti on it is any indicator.

Walter Cooke fallen redwood Stout Grove

I insisted that Walter take a photo of me with this huge root ball behind me. When these trees fall, they leave quite a divot in the forest floor.

Sara Schurr redwood rootball Stout Grove

Walter then hit the wrong button and we have a video of me making faces at him and asking him why he hasn’t taken another shot! He finally got a close up. Since you don’t get to see me very often I thought I’d give you the close up.

Sara Schurr Stout Grove Redwood NP

Not too much further on we passed the spur to the Hiouchi Trail. Back in 2000, we camped at Jedediah Smith State Park and waded across the Smith River (the seasonal bridge wasn’t in yet since it was June) and hiked the Hiouchi, so we took a pass on it this time.

Instead, I stood in the middle of the trail and arched my neck back to try to photograph the tops of the trees. If this photo makes you dizzy you’re in good company. I was dizzy when I came back up to vertical too.    

Stout Grove Redwood NP

The light through this section of the grove was lovely with sun shining on tree trunks here and there. When sun-lit, redwood bark is just so yummy.

Stout Grove Redwood NP

This is a really great trail. There are sword ferns lining the forest floor along with tons of oxalis which blooms in late spring (June or so).

Stout Grove Redwood NP

We’ve hiked in the Redwoods in June, January, February and August now and I’m always enchanted. It doesn’t matter if you have the grove to yourself (which is awesome) or there are herds of folks coming through, the trees absorb so much sound that it always seems to be deeply quiet. We had the place to ourselves part of the hike and it was as always, like being in a cathedral.

Between the drive, the sunshine and this lovely hike we were both really really happy with our trip down to the redwoods.

Thursday it was foggy and in the mid fifties again. It’s sure hard to believe it’s August when it’s so cold! We spent the day doing chores (including washing the truck at a wash-it-yourself place) and Walter got to watch Thursday Night Football on TV that night. We won’t have TV at Wallowa Lake State Park in September so he had to get his football fix now while he could.

Friday we had higher clouds than usual so you could see the rocks off shore even though the sun wasn’t out. There were a few sun breaks, which got us all excited, but none of them lasted. There were over 80 sites to clean so we were glad we had both teams working. But on Saturday there were only 43 sites to clean so we sent our compatriots off for the day (they never will take a day off so they went and hacked at blackberries) and we did all 4 loops ourselves and were still done before 1:30. It had been misting first thing in the morning (I even ran the windshield wiper on the golf cart once) but by 4:30 the skies cleared and we actually had a bit of sun. Whoo hoo—the first in over a week—but it only lasted about an hour.

We spent the afternoon getting the trailer ready to leave on Tuesday—checking the tire pressure and reorganizing the back of the pick up. It’s hard to believe that our month here is almost up. It’s gone fast but we’re both ready for a change in weather. It’s been awful cold and damp here the last week or so.

Sunday was a big turn-over day. We had 95 sites vacating and thank goodness we had two teams on. It was misting again and folks were moving slow. We had only two sites to clean in the first hour and only another 7 left in the second hour. At 12:30 we still had 26 sites who hadn’t left (out of our original 48). And all but 2 of them left by about 1:15. We worked steadily and by 1:55 we were ready to clean our last site as the last laggards rolled out. It was a double (and they hadn’t put out their fire) so it took a while but we were still back in the trailer before 2:30. It was a long one and we were tired and hungry.

But the sun had come out! Really and truly and completely so that I was warm enough to take my fleece off for the first time in weeks while we worked. YES!

Since I didn’t have as many photos this week from our outing, I thought I’d show you a few of the interesting plants we have here at Harris Beach State Park—both cultivated and native.

Most of the campsites are separated by hedges. Many of the hedges are escalonia like this.  

Escalonia hedge Harris Beach SP

They were in bloom with pretty pink flowers (which sometimes look like bit of pink micro-litter when they fall on the ground).


Some of the hedges of hardy fuschias growing in them too.  

hardy fuschias Harris Beach SP

Most of them have Himalayan Blackberries in them too. Those in the sun are sweet. Those mostly in the shade get ripe but they don’t taste like much.

Himalayan Blackberries Harris Beach SP

Some of the hedges had really large Evergreen Huckleberries. Again if they were in the sun they were sweet. They were all flavorful but tiny.

Evergreen huckleberries Harris Beach SP

And here and there we had hedges of Hardhack, a native spirea.   

Hardhack Harris Beach SP

Up on the northeast section of the park we had Canyon Live Oaks (Quercus chrysolepis) with acorns on them growing in the hedges too.

Canyon Live Oaks with acorns

Along the edges of the roads and in the campsites, we had crocosmia blooming—it’s escaped from gardens and naturalized up and down the coast here.

crocosmia Harris Beach SP

In the shade I even found a couple of native Western Azaleas in bloom—in August!

Western Azaleas Harris Beach SP

There was a lot of Redwood Sorrel growing in the shade and a little bit of it was still in bloom.

Redwood sorrel Harris Beach SP

It took me quite a while to figure out what in the world this orange berry was. It turns out to be the fruit of Smith’s Fairybell (Disporum smithii).  

Fruit of Smith’s Fairybell (Disporum smithii)

So even in a park where folks are here for the ocean views and the tide pools and the sand, there’s plenty of cool plants to enjoy—including a couple of coastal redwoods and a lot of really really big spruce trees.