Friday, October 21, 2016

Avoiding the Bulk of the Rain in Fortuna, CA

We beat a hasty retreat out of Brookings, OR just ahead of several days and several inches of rain, bypassing some stops we'd been considering in the redwoods. Riverwalk RV Park in Fortuna, CA was nothing special, but it had paved roads and sites and was in an area where we'd be able to get decent internet if we were stuck inside for several days.

We ended up with a couple of inches of rain off and on over four days...much less rain (and wind) than we'd have experienced in Brookings or other points north of Fortuna. Once free of rain we did some exploring...

The "Victorian Village of Ferndale, CA" sits just five miles west of Fortuna and is a fun place to stroll and admire some wonderfully preserved old buildings. In the late 1800's Ferndale was an agricultural and transportation hub, today it is a sweet tourist destination and an historic landmark.

The Old Steeple/Music Store in Ferndale is owned by Paul and Sherry, friends of Hans.
We'll return later in the week for a concert in this wonderful old venue.
Let's take a stroll down main street Ferndale...

The cemetery on the edge of town was as interesting as the buildings.

We found the hiking around Fortuna to be pretty mild, but interesting enough to get us outside. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge lies a few miles north of Fortuna and is an Important Bird Area, though the prime birding season is November through May. There are several Refuge units located around this huge bay and we visited two: Hookton Slough and Salmon Creek.

Lovely fall foliage covered Hookton Slough.

We watched several large flocks of Marbled Godwits fly past...the sound of hundreds of birds wings was mesmerizing!

Egret in Salmon Creek.

A fresh water pond at Salmon Creek Unit.

Many flocks of a hundred or more Canada Geese flew overhead during our three mile walk at Salmon Creek Unit.

Headwaters Forest Reserve, located just south of Eureka, CA, protects the headwaters of the Elk River and an intact, old-growth redwood forest. We hiked the first three miles of the 5.5 mile Elk River Trail.

The first mile is paved and signs along the way describe the turn of the century mining town. Falk, that used to thrive here. Beyond the pavement the gravel trail continues through lush second growth redwood forest along the babbling Elk River, which was more of a stream in mid October. Had we continued to the end of the trail we would have seen the old-growth forest the Reserve is protecting.

Morning dew enhances a spiderweb in deep, dark, damp redwood forest.

A large leaf maple is fully engulfed in moss along the Elk River.

Banana slugs.

Hans played pickleball several times at Fortuna's Rohner Park, meeting some lovely folks who invited us to dinner...thanks Karen and Joe for your wonderful hospitality! Rohner Park also has a couple of miles of trails that we walked one afternoon.

An old-growth redwood stump towers over Hans in Rohner Park.

Karen and Joe gifted us some beautiful leeks and shallots from their garden.

We stayed an extra night in order to see Sierra Hull in concert at the Old Steeple in Ferndale. Thanks to Paul for introducing us to his lovely venue...a magical, intimate setting for live music!

Stained glass windows in the Old Steeple, Ferndale, CA.

On Thursday we continued our slow meander towards San Diego, with a curvy drive (that was hard on Rosie) through redwood country. Lets see what kind of fun we can find in Ukiah, CA...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Enjoying Our Last Few Days in Brookings, OR

As I mentioned in my last post we were fortunate to have excellent weather during our week in Brookings, OR. Excellent to us being temps in the low to mid 60's and sunny most afternoons. Knowing that several days of wet and windy were on the way we got outside as much as possible.

One day we took a short drive into California and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We'd hiked a couple of short trails at the north end of this park in October 2013 and ever since I'd had my eye on the Boy Scout Tree trail, known for being a showcase of redwood scenery.

This 5.6 mile out and back trail is accessed from Howland Hill Rd, an amazing drive in itself as the road wound us intimately through the forest with enormous redwoods almost close enough to touch on both sides.

Even if you don't hike the drive on Howland Hill Rd is worth the trip!

I'll let the photos tell the tale of the Boy Scout Tree Trail...

Mid morning sunlight breaks through the dense forest canopy.

I am captivated by the variety of bark found on redwood trees.
Some are very smooth, some very rough, all beautiful.

By the end of the hike our necks were getting tired of looking, up, up, up!

Notice the bark on these redwoods is very light and smooth.

Hans blends in as he walks among giants.

These burls were easily 100 feet up and were even sporting some growth.


Boy Scout Tree, so named because it V's, looking like the boy scout sign...
couldn't get a good angle to show that though.
This beauty is 40 feet in diameter.

This bark almost looks like feathers!

Some sections of the trail have root hazards.

Large portions of the forest floor are covered in ferns...while one burl wears its own fern bouquet.

Hans helps a solo hiker get a tree hugging selfie.

Watch out for the low overpass covered in plants!

We have to duck to continue beyond this fallen giant.

One last walk on Lone Ranch Beach on a foggy morning. We found by walking south on the beach from the picnic area we could enjoy some very secluded beaches, often all by ourselves. There were tidepools to explore even at midtide and seals cavorted in the small bay near a rock where they'd gather to sun themselves.

The dots in the water on the right are seals that were very curious about us.
We spent a long time watching each other.

The seals swam along the shore watching us intently.

An old V6 engine was the only sign of man along the shore.

As our week drew to a close Hans watched the weather reports constantly, monitoring a big series of storms coming our way. This atmospheric river created by typhoon Songda was scheduled to hit the coast on Thursday (today) dumping many inches of rain and strong winds.

We decided to abandon our tentative plans to hop through tiny northern California towns visiting more redwoods and made a beeline for Fortuna, CA yesterday and a RV park with paved sites and the proximity of a large town (Eureka) while we wait out the next five or so days of rain.

As of this morning we have evaded the bulk of the first round of storms by being in Fortuna. We'll see what the next few days brings us. It's not so bad to hole up through a few days of rain considering we'll be in dry Southern California deserts soon!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Brookings, OR: Coastal Beauty and the Northernmost Redwoods

The combination of coast and redwood forest in Brookings, OR had us contemplating spending a month here earlier this year, but life had other things in mind for us and now we've managed to spend a week exploring all this small, most south western Oregon town has to offer.

We lucked out with the weather for this second week of October, no rain and mostly sunny for the entire week...and my foot is feeling better, the stars aligned for some hiking! Our first afternoon was a short walk at Chetco Point Park followed by some delicious beers at Chetco Brewing.

Hans is standing on the bridge on the ridge at Chetco Point.

Rugged Chetco Point.
Excellent blueberry ale and imperial coconut porter at Chetco Brewing!

Subtle sunset beauty through the clouds on our first night.

We took a good long hike on the Oregon Coast Trail; currently about 200 miles of beach and 155 miles of completed trails and road sections. When completed, the route will be about 400 miles long, stretching from the Columbia River to the California border.

We parked at Whaleshead Beach and hiked to Thomas Creek Bridge for a total of about six rugged miles (out and back). This portion of the Oregon Coast Trail lies entirely in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and includes steep ups and downs through dense coastal forest with brief, peekaboo views of the coastline, and the fascinating combination of hillside sand dunes and jagged coastline of Indian Sands.

Coastal view from the Oregon Coast Trail.

An arch at Indian Sand Dunes.

Dramatic shoreline from Indian Sand Dunes.

These dunes do not go all the way to the water.

Peekaboo views along the heavily forested Oregon Coast Trail.

Oregon Coast Trail.

Lone Ranch Beach is another beautiful place to walk within the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

Fabulous driftwood at Lone Ranch State Beach.

Lone Ranch State Beach.

We're staying at Driftwood RV Park, a simple, clean full hookup park next to Brookings Harbor. We were surprised one afternoon to look out our door and see a cat sitting at the top of the stairs...Rosie was not impressed!

Rosie had an unexpected visitor!

We hiked through two unique types of forest beginning at Alfred A. Loeb State Park. The Riverview Trail is a pretty and easy 3/4 mile trail that goes through an Oregon myrtle forest along the Chetco River. The trail ends at North Bank Chetco Rd, which we crossed to hike the 1.2 mile Redwood Nature Loop. This trail winds up and down through the northernmost grove of redwood trees, ranging in age from 300 to 800 years old.

Giant old myrtle trees along the Chetco Riverview Trail at Alfred Loeb State Park.
A myrtle forest smells unique, the scent of fresh bay leaves permeates the forest.

Idyllic scene on Redwood Nature Trail #1111

Chetco River.

We took nightly strolls along the harbor across the street from our RV park.

A beautiful evening stroll along the harbor.

Encroaching fog creates an enchanting sunset.

Most days we were able to do a forest hike and a beach hike...the best of both worlds! There are only two old growth redwood groves in Oregon and the trees are smaller than those found just a few miles south in California, but we managed to hike through both of these groves.

A very narrow, windy gravel road took us to our second redwood hike: Oregon Redwoods Trails #1106/1107. Short but steep, the whole loop was less than two miles, but very pretty and even on a Sunday morning we practically had the place to ourselves.

Morning sun breaks through the fog on the narrow dirt road to Oregon Redwoods Trail #1106/1107

These are some of the northernmost redwoods in the country.

After the redwoods hike we took a coastal route home with a stop at McVay Rock State Recreation Site. Not only does this small park have beach access, but there's a dog park and brand new 9 hole disc golf course. It's a simple and fun disc golf course with mostly wide open grassy space plus some fabulous views.

A couple of the holes at McVay Rock have ocean views...gotta be careful when you throw!

There aren't too many hazards on this course, but this one was particularly dense!

The course is so new the tee pads have yet to be poured!
Hole 5 was unique...straight through dense shrubbery!
McVay Rock beach was different than most we'd visited so far, it was composed of tiny pebbles, and lots of driftwood, including an enormous tree stump.

McVay Rock beach held an enormous tree stump!

Otter lunch time!

Okay, that's enough for one post! Part 2 of our Brookings, OR stay coming soon...