Monday, June 4, 2018

Redwood National & State Parks, 2018, part 1, trees and flowers

Redwood National & State Parks

Every so often Bob decides it’s time to go on a mini vacation.  May is supposed to be the best time to see the wildflowers in bloom in the Redwood National & State Parks so we packed our bags and set out for a long drive to Crescent City in northern California.  The plan was to stay there for 3 days and then start a slow return home via Highway 101 along the coast. 

The weather was mostly cloudy but we did not have rain and while the temperature was hovering between 55 and 60 degrees F it was just right for hiking some of the trails and was even warm enough to dip toes into the cold, cold Pacific Ocean.  We do have a National Park pass and most places we visited either were free, a minimal fee, or accepted the pass.  

 The Big Tree, 1500 years old

This Big Tree is 1500 years old and still living.  It is hard to get a picture that reaches from top to bottom of a redwood tree because they are so tall, some reaching nearly 400 feet.  A few of the very old trees, like this one, have a protective platform around them so that people wishing to get close will not damage the roots and unintentionally harm the tree.  I was able to touch the trunk of the tree from the platform being amazed to touch a living thing so extremely old.  

 The trees are so huge, they need a person by them to give some perspective

 Too tall, impossible to get the entire tree in the photo

Shrouded in fog these majestic trees are awe inspiring.  It was foggy and cool to cold in the forest.  We had a map and decided to take a couple of the suggested loop trails, Ellsworth and Liefer loops on the Walker Road trailhead and the Stout Grove trail all in the Jedediah Smith section of the park.  The map made it look like they were short and fairly level but both the Ellsworth and Liefer trails ended up being a lot longer than anticipated and there was significant elevation gain too.  I noticed one sign labeling the trail as “difficult” in places.  After we got back to the car Bob informed me that these trails were designated for experienced hikers (like us?).  We had quiet and solitude among the big trees and only encountered one other family group of 5 people attempting those trails; other visitors had opted for the very short paved, easy trails right at the turn offs instead.  We also visited another section of the park to see the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

 Bob standing by a downed tree

A fire damaged tree that was still alive even though most of the bottom part of the core had been burned out.

As hoped and planned we did see lots of flowers in bloom.  Irises in two colors, yellow and blue-violet were growing almost everywhere, along the roadside and in among the trees.  Native western azalea in a beautiful multi-color with an amazing fragrance!  Native rhododendrons by the hundreds were in the forest and along the road. We saw trilliums, oxalis, fairy bells, and a new plant for us, as yet unidentified.  It looks like it is probably a lily or perhaps an orchid.  It had shiny large leaves, a tall stem and a cluster of red-pink flowerets.  It was a very pretty plant and not in our flower book.  Even the Rangers at the information centers could not identify it for us. However, since there were several of these plants sprinkled in the forest it cannot be that uncommon.  

 Trillium near the end of the bloom

 Yellow and blue irises

 Western azalea

 Unidentified lily or orchid

 Ice plant

 Beach morning glory

 Pink rhododendron

 Dwarf beach lupine

 Lily of the Valley

Meadow parsley

The first time we noticed the wild cucumber vine with its pretty white flowers I was enchanted; however, as we began to see it climbing over all the other plants and in huge masses it lost some of its appeal.  Bob assured me that it is a native plant and dies back in the winter and is not as awful as the invasive Himalayan blackberries.  Nevertheless I do not want it in my garden.

 Wild cucumber vine

Lupine, yellow, blue, purple-pink, and white, covered entire hillsides in places.  Our lodging in Crescent City was steps away from the beach and we could walk along in the sand each day we stayed there.  Along the beach we saw ice plant and beach morning glory as well as a dwarf variety of lupine.  

Yellow and purple-blue lupine

Note:   Posts to come from this trip:  animals, lighthouses, and ocean beaches.  Of course, as always I picked up numerous postcards, so there will be postcard Thursdays in the forest too.