On Monday morning, January 15th we inventoried our fruit stash, held our breath, bid adieu to the Pacific Northwest, and crossed the Oregon/California border. We left Oregon’s Harris Beach State Park and drove 26 miles down U.S. 101 to the next stop on our Raincoast Tour: Redwoods National and State Parks.
Redwoods National and State Parks is a weird hybrid of the National Park Service and California State Parks. The system encompasses three California State Parks and one National Park. In the 1920s, the State of California created three State Parks along the northern California coast to protect some of the state’s last remaining stands of virgin Coastal Redwoods. In the late-1960s, following intense lobbying by LBJ, congress created Redwoods National Park to protect the land adjacent to northern California’s Redwoods State Parks. In the 1990s, the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation agreed to jointly manage the four parks (Redwoods National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Our plan was to work our way south through the Redwoods, spending a few days at th northern end and a few days further south, before heading to San Francisco to spend time with Anna’s family. Our first stop was the campground at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
We planned to spend about five days at Jedediah Smith, but after days of torrential downpours, and a looming family emergency on the radar, we decided to spot pull chocks early and start making our way south to drier climes and logistically-easier solutions to a possible emergency trip to Michigan. However, we did manage to work in several short day hikes among the Redwoods, as well as completing another Junior Ranger Badge. Also, as our campsite was on the banks of the Smith River, I also managed a few hours of Steelhead fly-fishing. By Thursday afternoon, the 18th of January, we had had enough. We were getting sick of the rain and were tiring of struggle to keep our batteries charged in our wet and heavily wooded campsite. So, after a few minutes of discussion, we threw on our rain coats, confronted the boot- and tire-sucking mud surrounding our campsite, packed up the dripping wet mold-incubation laboratory known as our camping gear, and said adios to Northern California’s Redwoods…for now…