Saturday, September 7, 2013

Avenue of the Giants - Part 1

September 2 - 5, 2013:

It's another moving day with some added stress due to the tight conditions of the RV Park and a extra long, with very little slope (risky) sewer hose connection and a full black tank to drain.  I had an assortment of buckets, boards, rocks and a piece of rain gutter under the hose for support, very creative.  I very nervously pulled the drain valve, it all held together and slowly drained to my relief.  We then had the drive from the Ft. Bragg east on single lane Route 20 through the Jackson Demonstration State Forest with lots of tight curves and elevation changes.  It was a very long 33 mile drive with numerous pull overs to let cars pass.  We found our way to our destination, the Sportsman's Casino easily, but were surprised when we saw it.  I haven't been to many Indian Casinos but all those I have been to have been huge complexes, luxurious and impressive.  This is on the small side, one room filled with mostly penny slots and a small cafe in a corner.  We did not see a designated RV parking area, so we pulled over to the side, walked inside the Casino and asked a security guy what to do.  They truly are RV friendly, they said we were fine where we were as long as we were out of the driveway.  We then drove to downtown Willits a few miles away, past a lumber yard with huge Redwood logs and walked around. Willits has a nice old downtown with much Redwood logging history. We found the Skunk Train Depot and the "Roots of motive power" museum.  The museum was closed but we were able to walk around outside and saw this huge incredible steam powered three wheel logging Tractor and wagon.  Our parking spot at the Casino is actually pleasant, under a big live Oak Tree with a nice view of a field and woods.  We even had wildlife, Deer and Turkeys around us in the evening.  We had to test our luck in the Casino, we failed, but it was fun.  We only lost what a private campsite would have cost and this tribe needs some help.

Stacks of Redwood logs near Willits, CA

The Willits road sign as you come into town

A mural in downtown Willits

And another mural in Willits

Skunk Train Motorcar in Willits

A really large Steam Tractor at the
Roots of Motive Power Museum in Willits

Another view of the Tractor

Our camp site at Sportsman's Casino

Sportsman's Casino outside Willits, CA

Tuesday morning I went to the Casino for some breakfast (a first) and put $2 in a penny machine and walked out after 15 minutes with $15.50, not bad.  It was a scenic trip on route 101 north to Ancient Redwoods RV Park, with enough hills and curves to keep me on my  toes, but not scared.  We arrived at Ancient Redwood Park around noon, there were lots of full through campsites and take your pick from anything open, that's what I like to hear !  We looked at the Immortal Tree in the campground parking lot that was survived the loggers, lightning and floods.  After setting up we went to the the Humboldt State Forest visitors Center to get information and see the exhibits.  I have been a member of the "Save the Redwood League" for many years and they are an incredible organization that has saved so much of the old growth forest and habitat along the California coast.  The ride through Humboldt forest is dark and magical, like Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest. We are ready for some hiking tomorrow.

This vehicle was called the "Travel-Log, it is a 1917 Nash truck with
a body fabricated from a hollowed out Redwood Log.  It was built
by Charles Kellogg, famous world-wide for his vocal range and bird
call ability.  He toured the country to spread the word about saving
the Redwood forests.  He was an amazing man.

Interior of the Travel-Log, one of the first RV's

We start at the California Federation of Women's Clubs Grove where we find the tail head for the "Big Cut Trail".  It runs uphill for about a mile to the "Mahan Plaque Loop Trail", we go around the loop to the "Founders Grove Loop Trail" and then return.  The Loop trails were covered with old growth Redwoods and real spectacular.  We then drove to the Rockefeller Forest looking for the "Rockefeller Loop Trail", the signage was terrible as did the access road.  We decided it was better to hike in and left that for another day.  Instead we drove to the "Drury Chaney Loop Trail" which turned out to be the best of all.  The entire 2 1/2 miles was solid huge old growth Trees, very lush with the forest floor covered in ferns.  We then drove to the town of Scotia for food shopping, it is a nice clean town with a massive lumber yard, must be a mile long.  The Pacific Lumber Company established Scotia originally as a company town, they owned everything and everyone worked at the lumber yard and they probably still do.  I plan to explore Scotia more latter

A huge Redwood Tree Burl

Huge old Redwood Logs

Twinkles next to an old fallen Redwood along the trail

One of several poetic quotes at the California
Federation of Women's Clubs Grove

Lush Ferns are everywhere

Also Redwood Sorrel

Redwood along the Trail

This towns and country side along the Eel River valley here have suffered terrible floods, the most recent one in 1964 totally destroyed Scotia and several area towns.  We saw photos and newspaper articles in the Humboldt State Park visitors center about the flood that were unbelievable. 

Thursday was another hike starting from the Visitors Center taking the short "Gould Grove Nature Loop Trail" to a foot bridge over the South Fork of the Eel River to the "River Trail", then the River Trail across the dry Bull Creek to the "Rockefeller Loop Trail". That comes out to about 12 miles of moderate terrain and we are now feeling the pain !  It was a very interesting hike through a mix of cut old growth and large second growth trees and then uncut old growth trees in the Rockefeller Loop Trail area.  It's frustrating taking photos of these trees in the forest, the light is usually poor, the photos lack perspective, look flat and fail to convey the awe and majesty of the forest.

River Trail view

Twinkles in front of another old stump

This one shattered when it fell

The Eel River, the rains start again in October and soon after the Salmon run

Old shelter made from a Redwood stump along the trail

You can donate money to sponsor a Redwood grove in your memory

View looking up along the trail, it's like walking in New York City,
always looking up at the skyscrapers 

You can still clearly see the holes that held the
spring boards that the wood cutters stood on

More Redwood country adventures to follow;
Twinkles and Slick

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