My neck hurt from craning upwards. From the forest floor it’s difficult to get a sense of how tall the redwood trees truly are. The sunlight left a dappled pattern on the lush greenery surrounding me, and Banana Slugs roamed at my feet in search of everything and anything to eat.
The hike I had chosen came highly recommended by both the internet and another traveler I had met a couple weeks earlier. It was up an old logging road, and a permit was needed to gain access through a gated area. I felt like I was on a secret mission as I entered the code on the padlock, drove through the gate, and entered a whole other realm.
The Redwood Forest in the Pacific Northwest is what fairy tales are made of. The fog squirms in, settling in place until the mid-morning sun burns clarity back into the landscape. This particular afternoon was just warm enough, with a refreshing scent hovering about, compliments of decaying organic matter and nearby creek. It was quiet. It was magical.
The following day, I decided to do a hefty 12-mile hike down towards the coastal area. It passed through an old growth forest riddled with fallen logs, mossy trees, and, of course, redwoods. Halfway through I passed through a well-known area called Fern Canyon. The abundance of moisture in this area acts as a catalyst for growth. Beautiful ferns clung to the canyon walls as the swollen creek made it’s way down towards the ocean. Spring meant an overflow of water. I had to take my hiking boots off and wade through calf-deep water, careful not to cut my soles on the sharp rock. It was tricky, but worth it to be able to witness this gorgeous nature-art.
The Northern California coast is violent – crashing waves, lots of rocks, and a sense of wildness different from the SoCal beaches. I watched the water as I rested my feet, ready to continue the loop back.
I felt a little worse-for-wear that evening. That crick in my neck didn’t go away, and the soles of my feet were torn up, blisters forming on my pinky and big toes. Nature isn’t an easy, pre-packaged commodity. It’s ruthless in its feats, with ebbs and flows that often don’t fit nicely into our modern world.
It’s rough and harsh.
But, oh, is it beautiful.