The weather forecast does not contribute to my idea of spending a recovery day on the beaches of Brookings/Oregon. Time to leave. California welcomes me with little sunshine but a free map of State Parks. Landscape changes right away - more fields and gras lands and scattered farms in the flat open area, compared to the hilly and forested scenery that dominated the route in Oregon. Giant tree stumps in the gardens serve as tall flowerpots, or have smaller trees growing on them. Right, that must be long ago cut down redwoods! The Redwood National Park Tourist Information Centre hands me a map of the part of the Redwood National Park that I'm about to enter today, explains which route to take and where to stock up with food. Great - a day hiking the Redwoods with its 100 metres tall trees that I heard so much about! Already the first stretch of Highway 101 into the national Park is stunning a climb between the giants. The scale of these woods is certainly different. The small, hardly used highway leads through a few smaller tourist places and privately owned campgrounds. It starts to drizzle. And there's the byway for the Prairie Creek State Park, that's where I'm headed for. One more climb, and a long downhill through an old-growth Redwood forest. Giants, between which cars look like toys. Memorial groves every now and then, indicating who has contributed to safe some of these old-growth forests. Shivering in my rain and sweat soaked cycling dress. Anyhow... The usual suspects are already on the campground - Reed and Markus.
Next day is hiking day in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The mist hangs in the forested hills, thick enough to hide the canopies of the Redwoods. On the trails around the campground, a bit of trivia on the Redwoods is written on small displays, how they distribute by sprouts and seeds, how they create their own foggy micro climate etc. Eventually I find my 6 hours circuit track to the coast and back, through the magic, mystic forest that has never been touched by chainsaws. Long ago fallen trees are base for ferns and new trees, slowly decaying into the Earth. Their washed out roots rise up four meters up. Directly on the coast are no Redwoods since they can't take the salty winds. Yet they are very close, where it is still wet and foggy enough to supply them with enough water. Once, back then when giant dinosaurs walked the Earth some 65 million years ago, Redwoods have covered wide areas of the entire Northern Hemisphere. They survived all catastrophes and Ice Ages here in Northern California, until White Man started to cut then in the 1850ies, and within less than a century, eliminated 95% of the old-growth Redwoods for the long lasting timber . It is said that the wealth of San Francisco is based on the Redwood business. Luckily, a few bright minds started the "Save the Redwoods" league in 1918, and prevented at least a bit of the primary forests.
After Prairie Creek Highway 101 goes along the Humboldt lagunas and some open land. I bypass Eureka and reach Fortuna, where I spend a rainy day in a privately owned RV-Park with public living room and free WiFi. For the second night, I even get an upgrade for a wooden cabin for the price of my small tent site. Very nice indeed. I receive some warning not to do Stealth Camping in the woods now, since it is Marijuana harvest season, and the woods may as well be home to some illegal fields. Alright, I already smelled that every once in a while on the road...
Next highlight is the Avenue of Giants, a byway to Highway 101 through more of the old growth Redwoods. Little towns with tourist attractions like the still-alive "Drive Through Tree" or the "One Log House" every few miles, and lots of hiking opportunities, such as a short hike to one of the Worlds tallest trees with more than 120 metres. Walking here, I don't even bother for such numbers anymore. be it 100 or 120 meters, what is the difference, compared to those industrial spruce tree forests back home? I did not see Pepperwood, where that girl lived in the canopy of a Redwood tree for almost two years to save it from cutting. Bad information management... Pooring rain for the entire afternoon.
Luckily I can share a Motel room in Garberville with Alex from Canada, another cyclist. Garberville is a rather small town that has some reputation as the hemp capital of California or so. With all the young and old homeless on the sidewalk, I make a funny picture walking there in Thai fisherpants and flipflop in the pooring rain to the Laundromat.