Redwood Trees

On a narrow strip of coast along southwestern Oregon and northwestern California, lies a forest range of the tallest trees in the world.  The Redwoods National and State Parks is a cooperative management effort by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.  I rode the length of the park to Kuchel Visitor Center, north to south, via US-101.  At the Visitor Center, I turned around and headed back north, where I picked up the Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway, 10 miles of paved road that takes you past thousands of acres of old-growth redwood trees with lots of pull-offs and trail head parking.

There are three Redwood drive-thru tourist attractions in the forest (but outside of the National and State Parks), all of them privately owned.  The woman taking my entrance fee of $3 for the one in Klamath, told me that the original hole in this particular Redwood was made by a lightning strike, then later widened by a retired Air Force Engineer to accommodate a vehicle.  I was unable to verify the original lightning strike part of the story, but apparently there was a retired Air Force Officer and an engineer involved in the carving of the opening in 1976 (Famous Redwoods).
I was fortunate that the day I visited the drive-thru tree, there was only one other car there, so I was able to take my time and explore the inside of the tree.  The tree is still alive, thanks to the lack of a taproot in Redwoods.  The Redwood roots only go down 10-13 feet, but extend out 60-80 feet from the tree.  –NPS website
A huge meadow at the southern end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway where elk and other wildlife like to hang out.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see any elk, but the meadow was gorgeous! 
A healthy Redwood forest requires a diverse mix of plants, fungi, and trees in order to achieve the right soil mixture for them to thrive.  Lots of ferns, berry bushes, mushrooms, and other trees like Douglas Firs, Western Hemlocks, Madrones, and others,  grow amongst the Redwoods, then die and decay along with them, to contribute to the cycle of forest life. NPS website
It was surreal to stand next to a living tree taller than the New Orleans Superdome and that started its life during the Middle Ages.  I felt small, yet universally connected.
As big as the Big Tree is, the walking paths all through the forest are full of huge trees!  For perspective, look how small the people look at the base of the famous tree.
Though it made for a wet and chilly ride, the seemingly constant coastal fog is crucial to the health of the Redwoods.  As inland temperatures rise, the fog is drawn in from the ocean and provides natural cooling and moistening to these giant evergreens.  Fog accounts for about 40% of the Redwoods’ moisture intake. NPS website

As much as I loved the coast, I made the decision to abort my plan to ride US-101 all the way down the coast of California, and instead, decided to head back up into Oregon for a little more sight-seeing.  My aversion to big cities, especially while riding a motorcycle, outweighed my desire to see sites associated with San Francisco and Los Angeles, so those will have to wait for another trip when I’m on four-wheels instead of two.

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