Sunday, August 23, 2009
Our family trip
Please excuse the crooked shot above, balancing cameras on boulders isn't that easy.
Since I have a little time before things get busy (Green Day concert Monday, New school year starting for both Sam and me, Outside Lands), I thought I could briefly recollect our trip. I've always said I keep this blog primarily as a memory repository; and boy as it approaches its 5th year, I am happy to have it!
OK. Here we go.
We spent all day Saturday getting ready (which worked nicely since Sam had just returned from a week of overnight kayak camp and Mary wasn't feeling well), so that we were ready to go by 10 on Sunday morning (well except for having a tough time finding Dixie since she was trapped in the towel cabinet!). We stopped in Willits, CA for some Chinese at Yum Yum and a break from the car.
We got to our first campsite, #81 Hidden Springs at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It was a good site, away from the main road, backed up to the woods. A bit of a hike to the bathroom, but it was the one with hot water and showers (which made Mary quite happy). We had no problems setting up camp and our huge larder!
Our first day we took a hike down to the Eel River to check out the swimming possibilities. It is a short hike downhill to a great swimming area. We chose the campground because of its proximity to the swimming and it's relatively sparse population, and it didn't disappoint. We just chilled for a bit in the evening in the water before heading back for a campfire, dinner and some smores. We had a bit of difficulty getting the first night's fire going, but it didn't turn into a trend.
We headed back to the South Fork of the Eel River for our first full day. We ended up just hiking up the river, swimming with the fishes (who ate off our toes) until we found a great spot to spend the day. There was a section of swift, shallow current next to a huge emerald pool for swimming. We had a lovely day playing and hiked back in the evening - for another campfire, dinner and smores!
Our last day at Humboldt, we decided to really see some Redwoods, besides just the ones on the Avenue of the Giants drive, our campsite and around the Eel. First we hit Founder's Grove, which was a bit depressing - it was one of those things that make you disgusted for being part of the human species. The crowds were a bit annoying, but the worst was the carvings people did in the fallen giants and kids climbing on the trees despite the numerous signs asking them not to! So, yes it was amazing to see one of the largest creatures to live on this planet at the same time as me (the Dyerville Giant), but sad to see "JT hearts KD" and several similar less permanent expressions carved into it while a kid climbs over it knocking chunks off.
We drove down the road a bit to find a hike in the Rockefeller Loop Trail and up Bull Creek. It was much more quiet and natural - probably because it is a bit of a pain to find! However, it was quite lovely walking among some of the tallest trees in the world and then finding Bull Creek for a lovely water jaunt. It restored my peaceful place with the natural world. And yes, back again for campfire, dinner and smores! Hat's off to Trader Joe's for their many great boil in a bag options and various dry good variety for camping treats.
We packed up early and headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We stopped at Golden Harvest Cafe in Eureka for some breakfast fuel (and real coffee!). We got gas in Bluff Creek, which turned out to be the place where the Bigfoot video was shot - yes THAT Bigfoot video. We drove into Lassen and were immediately stunned by its beauty. It is Yosemite-esque but without the crowds. Our drive up to our campsite at Summit Lake North was gorgeous. We did find out that unfortunately the hike up to Lassen Peak was closed due to a tragic rock slide. However, we knew there was plenty to do.
After setting up our gorgeous campsite, we went for a swim in the ridiculously close Summit Lake. It was so refreshing! Sam and I decided to gather wood (love places that let you gather firewood!) while Mary drove down to the showers and store for some sausages. Unfortunately, upon her return, she left the keys in the turned ignition with the doors locked! The camp hosts weren't much help to her and we just figured we'd deal with the dead, locked car in the morning. The star-gazing was nice.
After Mary hitched a ride to the store/phone and Geico sent someone to pick her up and get our car going again, we headed to Bumpass Hell by noon. Bumpass Hell is an amazing hike. It is a lovely uphill walk that ends with jaw-dropping awe. You feel like you are on another planet! Bugs that clatter like a sprinkler (as Sam noted), the world's hottest hydrothermal fumarole named the Big Boiler belching rotten-egg-smelling sulfur clouds with industrial sounds, rapidly bubbling pools of mud including one of black pyrite, aqua water, yellow rocks, gray streams and beautiful mountain views. It is extraordinary. Sam really enjoyed applying his Mr. Shern taught lessons about volcanic activities. I really enjoyed redefining the word unearthly in my understanding.
After Bumpass Hell, we drove down to the less fascinating Sulfur Works and South Entrance Visitor's Center. After some more sight-seeing, Mary decided to crash for a nap as Sam and I swam some more in the Summit Lake. I really wouldn't mind one day living on an alpine lake! Sam really enjoyed playing on the logs in the water. That night we experienced our first noisy, bright-light-emitting neighbors - coupled with Mary being quite cold again at night and all of us a bit worn from all the adventuring, we decided to make the next day our last day.
We packed up quickly and hit the road for the West entrance of the park. On our road out of the park, we saw a mother bear with two cubs (which was a theme as we twice saw a mother deer with two fawns)! After a bit of a drive, you hit a 6-mile gravel road to Butte Lake- definitely a bit out of the way. Mary still wasn't feeling fabulous, so Sam and I took off for the Cinder Cone hike. The Cinder Cone is a 700 foot volcano of loose scoria; it is no simple task climbing this monster! But the views and sights were well worth the climb, and Sam really dug the descent. He is also excited that he can say he climbed a volcano from base to crater. We returned from the hike and took a quick wash & cool off in Butte Lake. (Thus fulfilling every vacation day being a water day!)
On our drive home we broke up the drive and avoided rush hour by seeing District 9.
Phew! OK, there it is (and here are the pics and videos again). A wonderful trip! We enjoyed our time among the Redwoods and Eel River and I highly recommend the magic of Lassen (although I selfishly want people to stay away).
All that being said ... it is good to be home! Thanks to Mary and Sam for loving the outdoors as much as I do; you guys are such wonderful traveling companions! Love you!
at 8:58 AM