Hugging Trees in California

We saw rain. Rain to sustain trees with 370 feet of life. Tall trees. The tallest trees. Trees older than Christ. Trees so hardy that nothing but time, lightning and man can kill them. Trees so special they were harvested down to 40,000 acres from a sprawling 2 million. Sacred trees.

The life in the trees feels like a tangible presence in the Northern California redwood forests. A crowd of these ancient towers seems to have an identifiable character and force in the rainy season. Their growth, their life, their age is something you can feel, like the spirit that moves you in a place of worship.

The fog, cradled high in the dense branches and the shadows and light leaks on the forest floor make for a sacred space, a separate world. The redwood forests are an experience. Watch the bright yellow banana slugs creep along the groovy rich bark of the redwood trees; or how the network of spider webs light up when the sun moves just right and the clinging raindrops twinkle like Christmas lights.

We were lucky to spend 4 rain soaked days among the redwood trees, in and out of national and state parks; in and out of the magical realm cast by the tallest trees in the world. We were initially worried about the forecast of rain as we were pulling into Eureka. Rain means cold wet feet, cold wet everything and the potential to be forced inside. As it turned out the rain made for a pleasant change from our previous desert and canyon meanderings. Rain brought out a spirit in the trees we might have never met.

In between storm surges we made our way up the coast, hiked the Tall Trees Trail, where you find no other than the world’s tallest trees, and even got to hike through Fern Canyon where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed. So much green and red, dripping with life all around. Our feet where indeed soaked but beneath the cover of the trees, the rain had several obstacles to overcome before reaching the floor and our heads. Our passage was mostly safe.

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At the height of the storm we took refuge at a brewery, this time Port O’Pints in Crescent City. We had a few beers and a nice long chat with a few of the locals. We learned that the area is considered a place you can never quite shake, never move away from. The couple we met had both left at various times but found solace in knowing that home will always be on the rainy coast. We also got a chance to ask about the often-taboo subject of the healthy marijuana industry in the area. We weren’t sure how sensitive it was and were glad they initiated the topic after learning we are from Colorado, where it has recently been legalized.

Previously we were not aware this was a staple industry in the area (Humboldt County). Fortunately, as we made our way toward the northern California coast, a few other travelers mentioned that we should pay attention not to go off trail and accidentally hike onto private property. This could be an uncomfortable situation.

The couple, who said they supply planting soil for the marijuana farmers or “growers”, explained how it is thoroughly woven into the community. For decades, it has brought wealth to the area and the community was concerned about the potential impacts that marijuana legalization would have. It indeed became legalized in November and it will be interesting to see what happens.

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They imparted a saying that has been passed down in regards to the area. “There is no law north of the Eel and no god north of the Klamath.” Historically this statement had to do with the incorporation of Eureka into California and references two rivers that empty into the Pacific Ocean. It is still used to this day and as Eureka is clearly incorporated the quotation seems to carry a more modern mischievous sentiment. I like it. There is more than meets the eye.

Our days were filled to overflowing with rain and the redwood forests. Our first stop on our journey down the pacific coast and a glimpse at our highly-anticipated trek back to the Pacific Northwest where we plan to end our journey next fall. Till next time.

3 thoughts on “Hugging Trees in California

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