Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

California redwood titan, Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Definite neck-stretcher.

California redwoods hold a special place in our hearts. 

Wayne, dwarfed on the trail. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Not long after we met, we made a point of stopping on our first long road trip together to pull into a forest, breathe deeply of its essence, envelop ourselves in the serene silence, and kiss.

Steam rises from the road, warmed by the February sunshine. The woods, ever thirsty, drink in the mist.

For both Wayne and I, the woods, but especially California redwoods, harken childhood memories of awe. From toddlers to teens, we walked, camped, hiked and backpacked in them. Between my junior and senior high school year, I spent a summer working in Northern California’s woods with Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). We did trail maintenance, cleared a log-jammed stream, weeded in a blister rust seedling study planting and ducked falling trees while working alongside foresters toppling the big trees while we thinned the thickets so the youngsters remaining could thrive with sufficient light.

I wonder, ss the center tree saying to the one on its left, “Hey, skinny!”

In its first fifty years of life, a coast redwood can grow from a seed into a tree that’s a hundred feet tall.–Richard Preston, “Climbing the Redwoods: A scientist explores a lost world over Northern California,”
The New Yorker, February 14, 2005

Posing at Prarie Creek’s aptly name Big Tree. Even in
panorama, you can’t see the top. It’s 286 feet, with
a diameter of 24 feet, a circumference of
75 feet and an estimated age of 1500 years.

Over fifty years ago, my mom, a New York native, naively planted a redwood in our suburban backyard in San Jose. I can’t imagine it’s still there, though wonder what happened to it. 

When walking in the redwoods, one must assume the position,
tilting our crown, to gaze upon theirs.

Most of us remember nearly everything back then as so much bigger than us, disappointingly shrunken when revisited again viewed through the jaded prism of our adult perspective. 

Wayne, nearly six feet tall. offers some scale for this mighty giant,
laid in eternal rest whilst it feeds the grove with its decay.

Yet when it comes to these ancient redwoods, despite our decades, their sentient grandeur impresses us even more now. Our lives represent less than a fly compared to their tenure. We also understand how precious and rare they are. 

The corkscrew tree. These trees do the slow dance together.

Botanists judge the size of a tree by the amount of wood it contains, not by its height. By that measure, the largest species of tree is the giant sequoia, a type of cypress that is closely related to the coast redwood. The biggest living giant sequoia trees have fatter and more massive trunks than the coast redwoods. But the coast redwood is the tallest species of tree on earth.

This tree is swathed in lichen as thick as some fur coats.

Extremely large coast redwoods are referred to as redwood giants. The very biggest are called titans. Currently, about a hundred and twenty coast redwoods are known to be more than three hundred and fifty feet tall. Eighty percent of them live in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, along the Eel River, in Humboldt County, in Northern California.–Richard Preston, “Climbing the Redwoods: A scientist explores a lost world over Northern California,” The New Yorker, February 14, 2005

Bettles or worms get artistic on the surface of this felled redwood.

We stopped and took all-too-short wanders through trails in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State ParkDel Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Humbolt Redwoods State Park.

It’s core completely burned out,
this redwood still lives.

Even though our goal this trip was to seek the sun, we spent three days savoring California’s sun-hogging yet magnificent redwoods. We were still reluctant to leave them.

Humbolt Redwood Park, Founder’s Grove.

Location Location

Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Our first stop.

This is a recent retrospective of our trip from Portland Oregon to Chula Vista California and back. This particular section focuses on California’s Redwood State Parks, from just above Crescent City California to Humbolt State Park, February 16-18, 2020.

We are currently back in the Portland metro area.