Friday, June 8, 2012

Behind the Redwood Curtain

Humboldt County, on the north coast of California, is my old stomping grounds.  I was as student at Humboldt State during its greenest days in the early 1970s.  Those of you who remember those days will understand the "green" to refer to a  triangle (or at least a variation on the word green) and not ecology.  But the community of Arcata is now an example of one of the environmentally greenest communities in the country.  

With a spectacular natural environment, the advent of the first Earth Day set things in motion.   Major recycling, a curriculum with emphasis on the natural world, a world renown  sewage treatment plant and a college campus dedicated to sustainability, are evidence of this green attitude.   The college is involved in research in many environmental issues.  The students, despite the high costs of education, voted a special fee upon themselves to help attain the goal of a solar\sustainable campus.  The sewage treatment plant uses natural ponds as its tertiary treatment, a move that saved the taxpayers money, enhanced the migratory water bird environment, and made news among water treatment plants worldwide.


But the  north coast is more that that.  The region is home of the redwoods and includes the Redwoods National Park, just north of where we were staying.   It boasts a spectacular, rugged coastline.
My trip was an almost three week journey, with stops in Petaluma, Ukiah, Eureka and in the driveway of Bruce Haston, one of my college professors, mentor, and  writer of many recommendation letters for me over the years.   Chris flew in to the tiny Arcata-Eureka airport, which is located in neither of those communities, but in McKinleyville to the north and a 15 minute drive with no traffic from Bruce's house.  

Trillium's were blooming on the damp forest floor.

Chris and I spent a day at the Kinetic Sculpture race, touring Arcata, Eureka and the Somoa-Manilla area, a large sand spit which encloses Humboldt Bay to the west.   The next day, in thick fog, we headed to the Redwoods National Park.    I hoped that the rhododendrons would be blooming in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.   Some of them tower 40 feet above the trail.  But they weren't in bloom yet.   Still, it took us hours to traverse the trail as we stopped to photograph the giants, dew drops on vegetation, talk with a couple of other photographers, and enjoy the day.    The fog broke before we were through, but we enjoyed the fog, an aid to photographing in the redwoods.  And by hurrying Chris at the end, we managed to get to Fern Canyon for the final part of a long day of photographing.

White Trillium.

A young visitor on the trail

The large leafed plant in the foreground is a rhododendron.  Unfortunately they were not in bloom.  The grow up to 40 feet high, but are still dwarfed by the coastal redwoods.


     The final photo in this blog is of the rugged northern California coast.   Although there are protected coves and a few long sandy stretches, such as the views of Agate Beach in the blog labelled Fern Canyon and Patrick's Point, most of the region is rocky, rough and more like this view.
      The ceanothus was blooming, the blue flowering bush in the foreground from this view from the Luffenholtz Beach overlook.  Storms have washed this staircase out as well as the one at Patrick's Point.   The beach is no longer accessible.  Back in my college days this was a favorite spot for collecting driftwood for making mobiles and sand castles to decorate dorms.

View of the Humboldt County coast from Luffenholtz, south of Trinidad.

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