Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sore Necks - 24 August 2012

Our intended route for today was 90 miles which GoogleMap said would take under 2 hours: we managed to stretch that by 50% and take all day.

Our first diversion was to an overlook at the mouth of the Klamath River; the unexpected treat here was the fleet of small boats on the river with fishermen tending their nets.  The Yurok are permited to set nets in the river to catch Steelhead Salmon and they were busy hauling them out of the river.

Back on the main road for a mile or two and then off again to undertake an activity that I had first read about in a book as a child; a tree big enough to drive through.  For a mere $5 you can drive through (more than once if there is not a queue) a Coast Redwood.  The mirrors on the rental did not appear to want to fold in so, with a few cms to spare on each side, we idled through.

Our next stop was to walk a short trail at Ah-Pah where they have completely removed and rehabilitated an old logging road.  Even with before and after photos it is impossible to see where the road once was.

Ah-Pah is a short way up an alternative route to Hwy 101 which is entirely through old-growth redwoods thus providing stunning vistas at every turn.   Just before the other end is the pull off for "Big Tree", a 300ft speciman that is actually missing the top section of the main trunk.

After lunch it was time for some serious walking so from the Visitor Center we walked along the Prairie Creek trail as far as Big Tree, then took the Cathedral Trees trail back to our starting point.  Wandering along through these forest giants was the source of the sore necks as one is constantly craning to see the tops 200-300ft above the trail.  A walk like this is not recommended for those suffering vertigo.

Although the coast redwood is the tallest living entity, the cones are ridiculously small, about the size of an olive, and not the source of most new trees.  Around the base of old trees are root burls and if the old tree is stressed, new shoots sprout from the burls and because they share the established root system these new trees grow very quickly - compared to seedings from cones.  Thus it is common to see older trunks surrounded by younger trunks and on the Cathedral Trees walk there was one group that comprised at least 28 significantly sized trees plus other much smaller shoots.  All seperate trees but all the same tree.

Up Bald Hill Road is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and interpretative walk which was most informative.

Tired out for the day we headed back to Hwy 101 and stopped in at Trinidad, a cute little spot overlooking the harbour with a copy of probably the shortest lighthouse in the world, 25', enhancing the vista.

Dinner was a particular treat; The Samoa Cookhouse is the only remaining cookhouse in the west.  Originally built around 1893  to feed the employees of the lumber company it was opened to the public in the late 1960s as a restaurant with a difference. It is still run as a cookhouse so the meal you get is the meal they are cooking that night.
The choice is to eat it or not.  The portions are lumber-jack size and although we had put in a long day in the forest the cookhouse bread, soup, salad, chicken parmesan, slab of pork, potatoes, peas and desert were a challenge and seconds were respectfully declined.  It was all you could eat for $15.95 - great value and a totally different experience.

144 miles today, total trip 6644. States: California

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