Rob of the Redwoods – “There’s No Place Like Home “

Rob of the Redwoods

My on going adventures in forest and wildlife protection, conservation, advocacy, restoration, recreation and reconnection in the redwoods and beyond.

There’s No Place Like Home

It’s said that home is where the heart lays; for me, home, the place my heart loves best, is nestled about eight miles upstream of the town of Orick, CA, along what should rightly be called the Redwood River, in the remote and largely untamed wilderness of Tall Trees Grove and the surrounding environs in Redwood National Park.

For five years running now, I have made the journey up Redwood River to camp on the gravel bar and to commune with the wise and ancient ones of Tall Trees Grove as the wheel of the year turns from summer to fall. Amazingly, this last weekend was the first time all year I’d taken the Redwood Creek Trail out the eight miles to the dump-out spot on the gravel bar, about a quarter-mile downstream and on the opposite side of life from Tall Trees. The winding, largely flat, journey along the southern bank of Redwood River travels through a menagerie of old-growth, residual old-growth, heavily-logged second growth, and areas of landslides and slumps from past timber harvest where now only the red alder dare to grow.

Late September rains swept through the North Coast in the days prior to my adventure, doubling the water volume in the watershed to 200 cubic feet-per-second, and with the seasonal rope and plank footbridges having been recently-removed, fording, river hopping, wading, and trudging were part and parcel to my planned itinerary. At the first ford on the 1.7/1.9-mile trail mark, I encountered warm, gently flowing streamflow of only ankle to lower-knee-cap depth. Here, I saw no point in wasting the time of taking off my trailrunners and simply trudged through and on to the other side, quickly eclipsing the lower-river gravel bar and hopping onto the long, flat, gentle hike upstream through the forest on an old, now long-since re-purposed log hauling route.

After about three hours elapsed from my departure, I found myself dumped out onto the Redwood River gravel bar along the southern banks, and meandered downstream only about one-tenth of a mile to where the gravel and sand gave way to stream where I found a previously-used fire-pit and flat, sandy transition in the gravel where I would set up my weekend’s campsite. From this vantage point, the bends in the river significantly restricted field and distance of view, and nearly all of the up and downstream field of vision offered sightings of old-growth forest lining the streamside on both sides.

Being mid-afternoon at my arrival, the first task was to set-up camp, and the second to collect and boil water for a much-needed meal. These accomplished, I discovered that my long summer of work followed quickly by a smash-and-grab vacation trip, followed again by a period of pedal to the metal at work had left me simply and plainly exhausted. I had no hunger for hiking or exploring further on this day, not even for making the very short jump upstream and across to the north side and Tall Trees Grove, and instead resolved to make my way there at morning’s prime forest twilight hour.

In lieu of further adventuring I resolved to sit, watch, and play with the light and shadows of the sky, sun, landscape, and the waters of the river, immersing myself in the experience of being in such a unique and special place, a place that I dreamed of as a youth and somehow found in my adulthood. Here, the further upstream I travel, the further back in time, space, and place I go, suspended in a world beyond time or space, standing tall, but dwarfed by the ancient giants that line the streamside all around me.

As nighttime came, the sounds dipped low and crisp, and I slept coddled in my mummy-bag, happily listening to the mumbling of the river rapid just downstream sing me through to morning.

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