from big sur to (very) big trees.
part I :: redwood roadrip :: the forest
a few weeks ago i took off with my dad for our father’s day redwood roadtrip to see the giant redwoods of california. our goals were simple: see the tallest trees on earth, hike the forest, check out the coast, and relax and recharge while simply enjoying time together. from central california to just shy of the oregon border, we logged nearly 1500 miles along the scenic highways – trading the 101 for the avenue of the giants, cruising through the impressive landscape – at times with the forest canopy high above, and then astride the steep cliffs dropping to the sea below. along the route we paused in tiny towns, to fulfill our curiosity, to buy fresh cherries from roadside farmers, to amuse ourselves with oddities like the “artichoke capital of the world” in castroville, and of course to drive our car through an actual redwood – the famed chandelier tree in leggett.
flying into san jose from dc, we drove first to big sur. intrigued by this famed region and enamored with the idea of seeing mountains of redwoods rising abruptly from the sea, i knew it would be an excellent start for our journey. hiking a few miles through the los padres national forest, we immediately encountered giant redwoods. in pfeiffer state park the largest tree, the colonial tree, has an outstanding circumference of 27 feet. emerging from the forest we trekked in the andrew molera state park to the windswept coast – stunning and seemingly abandoned, covered in driftwood. from big sur we pushed north, driving across the golden gate bridge, 500 miles to klamath – a quiet town nestled in the redwood forest, about 30 miles south of oregon. this was our base for exploring the tallest trees – redwoods that soared 360+ feet into the sky, creating a canopy so thick that sunlight barely makes its way to the forest floor. despite the profound serenity i found among the redwoods, there is also a strong buzz of life and energy – of tress that have stood for thousands of years, so old that they are hollow in the center and unable to be accurately aged. from the banana slugs to the roosevelt elk that we saw, and the black bears and mountain lions that we didn’t see, the region was teeming with life.
making our way through the redwoods we drove, we hiked, we rode horseback, and we paused often to pay homage to nature and its spectacular beauty. i believe that traveling shapes us in ways that we don’t immediately realize, and that it changes us forever. i feel incredibly lucky to have experienced the glory of the pacific northwest redwood forest and indebted to trees that have survived for centuries so that i could look up at them, and realize my smallness – not in size alone, but in time and space. i am so very thankful that i was able to share this experience with my father by my side – it was a fantastic journey.
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*note* i separated this trip into two blog posts, the forest + the coast, based on the strikingly different landscapes. however, the forest and the coast are in fact very much intertwined – at times separated by only a few miles, as the redwoods have a close relationship with the sea. to see the coast photos and read more about our adventure click HERE.