Big Damn Trees

Coleman had to take off right after our weekend at Champoeng, but Cody got to stay with us a little longer before heading on down the road. Brandon and I both have regular 9 to 5 type jobs so Cody had to entertain himself during the week days while we went to work. He was a good sport about it though. He even did the dishes and walked the dog. Best house guest ever! Seriously. Even if he wasn’t one of our closest friends, this guy would be invited back any time.

Brandon and I both took off work Friday and Monday so that we could finally take the Alpha on a bonafide journey. For our first big trip we’re going to see something that none of us has actually seen – the redwood trees in California!

As a bonus, Cody’s girlfriend Jaz was going to join us at the redwoods! These two love birds had just spent six months together, day in and day out, sleeping in a tiny tent, while bonding over less than stellar trails and beautiful scenery. After a week apart Cody hopped on another Amtrak train, back to California this time. They were going to ride together in her Jeep to meet us at Jedediah Smith State Park in northern California. Brandon and I would ride together in the Alpha for its first real long-distance trip.

Rudy would not be going on this trip because the redwood parks are not very dog-friendly. You can bring your dog to the parks but they can’t go on most of the trails. I assume this is to protect the trees. When we go places where we can’t take Rudy he goes to stay with a wonderful dog sitter outside of Portland. I assure you that he had as much fun as we did.

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Rudy going for a swim with his new best friends

Cody left for California while we were still at work. When we got off work we got to work packing. We were finally ready to leave around 9pm. The drive was going to take around 7 hours total, so we planned to do as much as we could that night and save the rest for the next morning. The last hour or two of the drive was rumored to be a bit narrow and curvy so we wanted to be sure we did this section in the day light. I had a really exhausting day at work and only made it about 2 hours into the drive before I started nodding off. I went to sleep in the cab-over bunk while we were still on the road. When I woke up the next morning we were in a Walmart parking lot in Roseburg, Oregon. So classy.

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We were both very glad that we saved the last section of the drive for the morning because it was incredibly beautiful. While there were some very narrow sections, it was not as treacherous as friends had described it. This section of road is called the Redwoods Highway, and mostly, it is just gorgeous.

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Cody had checked out Jedediah State Park online and suggested that we try and reserve site 52. Advance reservations weren’t available but site 52 was open when we arrived and Cody made an excellent choice. The camp site was as private as could be expected in a state park, had a wonderful view of the Smith River and was surrounded by enormous redwood trees.

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In front of our camp site
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A tree near our campsite

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Cody and Jaz joined us later in the afternoon. We spend the evening catching up and hearing more about their New Zealand adventures. The next day we were planning to hike the Boy Scout Trail and really get into the heart of the redwood trees.

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We were camped at the red arrow

The next morning Jaz and I decided to go on a short hike while the guys took the Jeep to the store (we forgot we needed cash to pay for the camp site). On the way we ran into a park ranger so we asked him for advice on the various hiking trails. he told us that we could get to the Boy Scout Trail by fording the river across from our campsite. If we didn’t want to do that (we didn’t, the water was still freezing) we could drive a few miles up the road to another entrance and take a dirt road to the start of the trail. We did not know any of this so I was very glad we asked for directions and very glad Jaz had come with her Jeep. We really needed it to get down the road to the trail. We saw a couple of sedans on the road but I’m sure they were regretting their decision.

The morning hike that Jaz and I went on was lots of fun. We didn’t have a plan. We just followed the trail signs (and the park rangers directions) hoping it would lead somewhere interesting. The ranger had told us we would cross a bridge. We came across an old fallen tree that appeared to function like a bridge. This  lead us back to main road. However, across from the main road we saw signs for a 1 mile trail. This sounded like a great distance for a morning hike.

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I found a hobbit hole!

The trail was basically a series of switch backs up the side of a hill on the side of the main road that eventually circled back around. While we had a really nice hike, we didn’t really get to see many redwood trees.

After the guys got back from the store we took off for the Boy Scout Trail. We left the campground, back onto the main road, drove for a few miles, and turned onto a dirt road that blazed an amazing trail through the redwoods. We made it about 10 minutes before we were compelled to stop and just walk around. The enormity of these trees just blows your mind and can’t really be captured in photographs. If you haven’t been you should really go.

We knew that we only had a set number of hours of daylight so we piled back in the Jeep and took off for the Boy Scout Trail.

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The trail is only 2.8 miles but it takes longer than your average 2.8 mile walk because you are bound to stop and gasp at the scenery around you. Also, the trail is not a loop. It is really about 6 miles round trip.

A tree had recently fallen and covered part of the trail. There was a gap underneath the tree where you could shimmy under. Someone had left this log underneath so you wouldn’t get your hands muddy, along with an encouraging note. Unfortunately, Brandon and I missed the obvious cue and took a longer, muddier route that went around the downed tree. Cody and Jaz, being experience hikers, took the easier route that crossed under the downed tree.

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Another hobbit hole!
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Cody and Jaz – Such a lovely couple
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an uprooted redwood tree

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I told Jaz at the start of the trail to be on the look out for well-used side paths because one of the biggest redwood trees on record was supposed to be just off of this trail. We were looking for the Boy Scout Tree, so named for a Boy Scout troop leader that found it. It is not the biggest of the giant trees, but one of the biggest that is easy to find. Many of the largest trees do not have maintained trails leading to them in order to maintain them in a relatively undisturbed environment). I apparently neglected to tell the boys that we were on the way to see one of the biggest of the big trees. This actually made for a great surprise.

Jaz and I spotted a well-used side trail and exclaimed “This is it!”. The boys obliviously responded “What?”. It was a surprise cherry on the cake for them. The hike itself was beautiful and they were happy with that. They had no idea.

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The sheer magnitude turned Brandon into a tree-hugger

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