Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Pacific Harbor Seal

The harbor seal is also known as the common seal. One of the subspecies, the Pacific harbor seal, or Pacific common seal, is found along the coasts of western North America. 

While at Lone Ranch Beach in Southern Oregon I spotted several harbor seals off shore. I mostly saw just a portion of a head, or a piece of the hind flippers, but rarely saw much of either. I had a 600mm lense  and it was stretched to get any decent photos. 

I share the best photos that I got. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Redwoods and Sequoia National Parks

It was about four months into covid and our son, Sam, called and asked if we would be interested in visiting the redwoods or sequoias with him. We said, "yes," to both. 

Friday, August 7, we left our home in Redlands about 8:00 a.m. We took I-210 through Pasadena, then got on I-5 going north. Outside Bakersfield I noticed a sign for Tule Elk State Reserve and took the exit, much to Judy's chagrin. A sign indicating 3 miles pointed left to the south/west side of the freeway. The reserve is a small roundish fenced-off area with picnic tables, restrooms, a mobile home administrative office and tules on the other side obscuring most everything. We were ready to call it a complete dud when we heard the bugling of an elk on the other side of the tules. We paid more attention and eventually saw two tule elk bugling. At least we saw something before we left. 

We continued on to Sacramento and stopped at the California Capitol Building (452 miles from home) which I'd never been to before. The building was closed to visitors, but we walked part of the grounds, marveling at the coast redwoods planted there. We parked across the street near the California Supreme Court building. 
California Capitol Building

Large redwoods obscuring the side of the Capitol Building. 
We continued on the I-5, stopping at Granzella's in Williams for lunch, Corning for a stop at the Olive Pit for olive oil, then to Redding (155 miles from Sacramento) where we picked Sam up at the Redding Airport. His flight arrived around 7:47 p.m. We checked in to the Oxford Suites Redding for the night. 
     Tule Elk  (Bob)

Saturday, August 8, we left Redding traveling northwest on Hwy 299 through the mountains, through Lewiston, Douglas City, Weaverville, Burnt Ranch, Salyer and Willow Creek before reaching the Pacific Coast at McKinleyville, just north of Arcata. There we connected to Hwy 101 going north along the coast through Trinidad and Patrick Point to Orick (172 miles from Redding), where we stopped for a bathroom break. A couple of miles north of Orick we turned left (west) on Davison Road through Elk Meadow and stopped to take a short hike to Trillium Falls. There we ooed and awwed at our first coast redwoods. 
Coast redwood

Redwood sorrel

We sampled Himalayan blackberry, but found them quite sour. 

Himalayan blackberry flower
We followed Davison Road, now dirt, for another six miles to Gold Bluffs Beach. We followed the road, set back from the ocean quite a ways, another three miles to the parking area for Fern Canyon. It was a quarter mile hike to Fern Canyon, site of Home Creek, which we followed some distance. Fern Canyon, amazingly full of ferns, was a filming location for Jurrasic Park 2: The Lost World. It is also heavily visited, even in covid times. We took an exit part way through, up to the rim and walked the rim back to where we started. 
Fern Canyon

Staring up at huge Sitka spruce.
Re-tracing our route back through Gold Bluffs Beach we stopped at an area without any people and walked out to the ocean. It was a beautiful gray sand beach.
Gold Bluffs Beach

Yellow sand verbena
We continued to re-trace our route back to Hwy 101. Once on Hwy 101 we continued north for another 4 miles, then took the Newton B. Drury Redwood Scenic Parkway, a 10 mile drive through an old growth redwood forest. At Elk Meadow and Elk Prairie we saw some Roosevelt elk in the long grass. 

A little further, we took a short walk in to Big Tree, which is in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, and saw some even more amazing coast redwood trees and a beautiful bigleaf maple. 

Bigleaf maple

The Newton B. Drury Road hooks back into Hwy 101 about four miles south of Klamath. We drove another three miles north, one mile south of Klamath, and took the Coastal Drive, a drive high up above the ocean, which ends where the Klamath River flows into the Pacific Ocean. 
We took a short drive in to Enderts Beach, then drove into Crescent City, less than 20 miles from the Oregon border. We ate a less than mediocre seafood meal at Crescent Seafood, then checked into the Oceanview Inn where we spent the night. I wanted to go out and find some more elk and Sam wanted to go back and hike into Enderts Beach. I found elk on the Enderts Beach Road and just off Hwy 101 where the Enderts Beach Road connects to it. Then I drove all the way back to Elk Meadow looking for elk and didn't see any, and back in time to pick up Sam and go back to the hotel. 
     Coast Redwood  (Bob)

Sunday, August 9, we saw elk in the area just off Hwy 101 where Enderts Beach Road connects with it. 

We drove back roads to Hiouchi and into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Along Howland Road we visited Stout Grove, I think all of our favorite coast redwood spot. We walked in one of the most majestic and beautiful spots on earth, a place teaming with huge coast redwoods. 

We got back on Hwy 101 and started to drive south. We made an unscheduled stop at False Klamath Cove, where Hwy 101 connects with a gorgeous beach. We stopped and wandered along the beach, searched tidepools, and enjoyed the incredible beauty of the place. 

We ate lunch in Klamath at Log Cabin Diner, in a portion of Klamath on a Native American reservation. I had a good veggie burrito with a side of onion rings. 
We had reservations for Tall Trees Grove in Redwoods National Park (only 50 people are allowed in each day). We drove 6 miles up Bald Hills Road to a locked gate. Used the combination given us before-hand to open the gate, then drove another 6 miles down a dirt road to get to the trailhead. Then we had a 2 mile hike, mostly downhill to get to the quarter-mile long grove alongside Redwood Creek. Overall, it was a 4.5 mile roundtrip hike. Unknown to us at the time, the Hyperion Tree, the tallest in the world, was just half a mile away.

The effort, both driving and hiking, to get to this grove is pretty great. By comparison, Stout Grove has easy access and is more beautiful. At the height of these trees, we can't tell the size differential between a massive giant and just a really big giant. We skipped Lady Bird Johnson Grove on the way out Bald Hills Road, got on Hwy 101 and continued south. Between Phillipsville and Pepperwood, we took the Avenue of the Giants 32 mile auto tour which is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We had no advance planning and didn't really know what to look for, so we made one stop. Advance planning would have helped there. Unfortunately, in my planning for the trip I did not run across it. We stopped in Eureka for some Mexican food at La Patria Mariscos (I had a nice tofu burrito with black beans and rice) and continued on to Fortuna where we stayed at the Redwood Riverwalk Hotel.
     Roosevelt Elk  (Bob)
     Pacific Gopher Snake  (Bob)
     False Klamath Cove  (Bob)

Monday, August 10, Sam and I got up early and drove back to Loleta to the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Reserve and took the 2.1 mile Shorebird Loop Trail. We saw some snowy egrets, a great egret, great blue heron and a river otter. We drove back to the hotel, showered, then drove 404 miles to Madera where we stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Madera. We stayed on Hwy 101 to San Quentin, stopping in Ukiah to eat ate Taste Budz for lunch (141 miles from Fortuna). We crossed San Francisco Bay on the Richmond Bridge (I-580) to Richmond, passed through Berkeley and Oakland and out through Livermore, then eventually got to Hwy 99 through Modesto, Turlock, Merced and eventually Madera. 
     Humboldt Bay NWR  (Bob)

Tuesday, August 11, we drove 78 miles through Fresno and up into the Sierras to Kings Canyon NP. We visited the General Grant Grove, including the General Grant Tree, the second largest tree in the world (a sequoia), by volume. The General Grant Tree was kind of ugly and didn't look as large as some of its neighbors, that were also more aesthetically pleasing. For beauty, they don't match the redwoods. We headed for Giant Forest in Sequoia NP and were dead-stopped for 70 minutes while we waited for road construction. We parked at the General Sherman Tree parking and hiked the half mile to the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree (also a sequoia), by volume, in the world. It too was not as aesthetically pleasing as neighboring trees and certainly did not seem like the largest. What we did love was the Congress Trail, a two mile loop starting near the Sherman Tree. The President Tree did seem huge, huge base, wide trunk, tall and beautiful. It was followed by two groupings of huge sequoias known as the Senate and the House. They were impressive and beautiful. 
Judy at the base of the President Tree.

The Senate

The House

From there we drove to the Lodgepole Campground and bought some food in the small store and ate, sitting on a rock outside. At the end of the campground we hiked the 3.4 mile roundtrip Tokopah Falls trail along a small stream. The excitement for me was a small black bear that we saw on the way up and on the way back that got quite close to us. That is my best view of a black bear ever. 

It was 41.7 miles from Kings Canyon NP to the Foothill Visitors Center at the end of Sequoia NP, then another 35.6 miles to the Visalia Marriott at the Convention Center where we spent the night. We bought some fruit and pasta in the hotel lobby for dinner. 
     Giant Sequoia  (Bob)
     Lodgepole Chipmunk  (Bob)
     California Black Bear  (Bob)

Wednesday, August 12, we slept in and headed back toward Ontario, a 227 mile drive, where Sam had a flight out at 3:45 p.m. We stopped at a wonderful roadside Mexican food diner, Agave Azul Mexican, outside Bakersfield and we ate under a covering outside. This was a wonderful covid trip. Relatively close to home, almost completely outdoor activities and a cure, or at least respite, from cabin fever.