Richardson Grove State Park, California
November 11-18, 2017
I can’t really explain the feeling of walking through the redwood forests. It makes me feel like my body is humming with life, but also like I need to be very still. The trees make me feel so tiny, but also like my actions have enormous consequences. The sweet smell of the damp air under the mammoth trees fills me up like nothing else. So I guess I’m saying you should go there.
We had explored the northern redwoods more thoroughly last year, so we picked a campground south of the Avenue of the Giants so we could explore some new trails and some new trees. We camped for a week right outside of Richardson Grove State Park which was home to an incredible grove of old growth trees. A portion of Hwy 99 cuts right through the park where cars, trucks, and semis zip through a section of the ancient forest at 55mph, less than a foot from trees larger than I’ve seen in any other part of the world. A few of the trees have scars from repeated interaction with side mirrors.
A short 1/3 mile loop trail in the Richardson Grove took you by some of the biggest giants, and at least one member of our family was on it almost every day.
We also drove north multiple times to the Avenue of the Giants to see more of the wonderland there.
It was a quiet week, pretty rainy, with no cell service at our campground. So we bought WiFi passwords from the coffee shop across the hwy, did some work, and spent a whole lot of time in the trees.
We have been racing against time all autumn, trying to get across the Sierra Nevada’s before snow fall. We had planned to drive across on a Thursday, but when we checked weather forecasts earlier in the week, there was an enormous winter weather event moving across the mountains that very day. The DOT was encouraging people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. So we spent a couple of extra days under the giants, laughing at ourselves for the fact that one day earlier would have gotten us across the mountains before the deadline we’d had in mind for months.
As we finally drove over Donner Pass 2 days later, we reviewed why the mountain route has that name by rereading the story in our history book about the tragedy of the Donner party of pilgrims who were trying to cross at this same pass about 180 years earlier. They also failed to make it across the mountains before the snow, with historically tragic results. I was grateful that our modern technologies and machines made it easier for our trip to be successful. Zero cannibalism!
We were excited to play in the snow at the rest area on top of the pass, even though we hadn’t quite dressed for the occasion.