Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Trip, Redwood National Park

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Our next stop was to explore the Redwoods of northern California. These amazing old trees are huge and beautiful! We were camping at the Del Norte Coastal Redwood State Park, which is one of 3 state parks that make up the National Park. Our campsite had a few huge redwoods surrounding our site adding to the privacy from our near neighbors. It was a very fun place to camp. We enjoyed riding bikes around the large campground checking out the different sites and how they hid campers in between the logged stumps of giant redwoods. 
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To the north was the Jedediah Redwood State Park. We stopped there for junior ranger packets and to learn about bike trail, hike trails, and scenic drives. We had fun doing a few short nature trails up there, including a scenic drive to a short trail that led to a summer foot bridge over the river. These trees are quite beautiful and ominous. 

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We took our bikes for a hike one afternoon. The rangers told us about a bike trail nearby that took the old coastal highway, but there was this one up part. But once you get up it’s a great trail. So, we rode the short way to the “up” part. Oh boy, it was definitely UP, and UP. We really should have consulted a topo map first. But we did survive. The kids could not ride hardly any of the up part, so we all pushed our bikes. Up, up, and Up. About 1000 foot gain over 2 miles. Once we did it, we can’t believe how the kids did it. There was a little complaining, but really they made it. David pushed 2 bikes most of the way, and the 2 youngers shared pushing one of their bikes, or I pushed it when they needed a break. Finally we reached the worst of the up, and realized the kids could not go back down it. It was quite steep. So we formulated a plan to ride to the end or near there, and David would ride back and retrieve the van and meet us at the end of the trail. But now that it was not so much up, the kids were a little shaken. The trail became "too narrow” or "too many rocks" or "too close to the edge" for the kids to want to ride, so we continued to hike with our bikes about another mile. And finally we reached a path the kids were willing to ride. It became more open and and less up, and a few downs. We had reached the old coastal highway, and what was once a well traveled rode, was now mostly covered in leaves and growing brush. The scenery was beautiful. The entire trail we did was about 6 miles. We were so impressed the kids hiked half pushing their bikes. The last half we did ride and as we reached the end to meet David, who had turned around at 4.5 miles, he made it back to the van and drove to the end of trail in the same about of time it took us to finish biking 1.5 miles. Clearly we stopped to “rest" a few times. We loaded up the bikes and headed the short drive into Crescent City to get some ice cream at the Walmart there. The kids deserved it!
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1  14The next day we drove to the south end of the National Park. We enjoyed a few short trails in that area, hiking a 3 mile loop of old redwoods. We then drove out to the shore line, and did an actual full bike ride. This trail went along the edge of the woods and sand dunes lining the shore. It was a great ride in and out of trees, thru fields of tall grasses near the dunes. It would have been perfect if my tire hadn’t gone flat a quarter of the way thru the trail. After stopping several times to pump the tire, I decided it was time for Matthew and I to turn around and head back towards the car. This way David and the older kids could finish the ride and at a much faster pace without Matthew- who is a great bike rider, just a little slower than the rest.
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In the morning we packed up and headed towards another campground in the Redwoods, Albee Creek, in Humboldt State Park. The day before, a park ranger mentioned a beach to the south good for rock and gem collecting. We had been hoping to see some tidepools, so we rose early to head there. We didn’t find any tide pools, but Savannah and Benjamin had a great time exploring the rocky, pebble beach. They found several rocks and gems to bring home. Off in the field behind the beach, was a group of elk feeding for the morning. They were beautiful, set against the hills, and the morning fog.

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We drove the few hours to Albee Creek Campground, and set up our campsite. Then headed to the north end of the park to drive the well known Avenue of the Giants. It’s quite a scenic drive of old Redwoods, but honestly my favorite drive of the trip was the short spur road that leads to the Albee Creek Campground. It’s narrow, and winds between the trees. 
In the north end of the park we explored a few beautiful trails. Our favorite, the Grieg-Bell-French Grove. Clover covered understory below the redwoods. It was like walking through a fairy tale. Just beautiful. The kids had great fun just wandering on trails through the clovers.

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The next morning we hiked straight from our campsite. The 2 mile trail along the creek and through the forest would have been a great one for a run, but we enjoyed it as a hike. Savannah needed some “space" so she stayed at the campsite reading. We camped at this campground and site based on the recommendation of our good friends, the Despain family. This is their absolute favorite spot of anywhere. We loved it too, the kids especially loved the creek that ran behind our site, they enjoyed playing in it for hours. Even with a water snake or 2 swimming by. Mostly we just hoped they wouldn’t touch any poison oak. 

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