Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 12. Eureka CA to Gold Beach OR, via Redwoods National and State Parks

Up and out of the AirBnB before anyone else in the house was awake, then a short drive north to the visitor centre at Redwoods National Park. Nice to be back at the ocean again, with hopes of seeing migrating whales off the coast.We decided on a 2 mile walk through the forest and back along the river, and on the way to the trail head we spotted some Roosevelt Elk grazing just through some trees. Off the 101 and through the scenic parkway, and a few more elk out in the meadow near the trailhead.

Our walk took us past ‘Big Tree’ and that is were we should have taken the left fork to loop back to our car. Instead we followed the wrong signs, only realising our error after another mile or so. When we eventually circled round to head back in the right direction we weren’t actually too disappointed, as it was the most beautiful walk. It wasn’t raining, but the air was moist and water was trickling down off the giant trees; the bark and fallen leaves were damp and rotting underfoot, and the air was cold and crisp. The sun was bright and low in the sky, streaming through the trees once it eventually burnt through the low cloud. And, best of all, we didn’t meet one other person on the whole trail; touristing in winter does have some advantages. The Ranger at the visitor centre had told us that we may see some salmon swimming up river, and when we crossed a bridge on the home stretch we spotted a lone fish battling hard to swim upstream. He was soon swept backwards under the bridge, and we feared that we were witnessing a dying fish that wasn’t going to make it. After watching him for a while, Michael surmised that he may in fact have been spawning, as we watched him roll onto his side and we also caught a brief glimpse of a smaller, possibly egg-laying female fish swimming just behind him. I never thought I would get to see a wild salmon swimming up stream to spawn, and it was pretty amazing to see the large, powerful fish do its thing.

Finally back at the car, ready for snacks and water, and we then enjoyed the rest of the drive through the park. A small diversion at Klamath to a high lookout and a stunning view of the northern most California coastline. A man who had been there for a while informed us that he hadn’t spotted any whales, just seals and sea lions. Further north to the fishing town of Crescent City and stops for fries, gas and a new belt for Michael at Walmart, then we decided that we could drive for another hour or so to Gold Beach for the night. It turned out that the road we wanted to take through the northern most part of the park was closed, so we took a slightly shorter route to enjoy our last views of these magnificent trees.

We now had sea views as we crossed the state line into Oregon, with its rugged coastline, littered with huge rocks off the shore being pounded by powerful Pacific waves. I was exhausted from our 6 mile walk this morning and took a nap in the car, but Michael somehow found the energy to visit another lookout where he enjoyed the view over Arch Rock.

On arrival in Gold Beach we quickly found a motel and I prioritised warmth and comfort while Michael walked out to find us food. Warming enchilada and chilli relleno, and we were almost ready for sleep. Only interrupted by the sound of what we thought was the tsunami warning siren. It turns out that if it rings once it is just a council meeting. If it rings constantly we need to worry.