Avenue of the Giants, California – The earth’s tallest trees

At 8 am a white pick-up stops at our spot. A ranger alights from it. A short discussion develops with our neighbour before money is exchanged to a piece of paper. Then it knocks on our door. We illegally camped in a state park. It is not allowed to camp in any parking lot in California, we always have to use a campground. The usual camping fee is 35 $ and that’s what she wants to collect now. We will have free entrance to all state parks for today. Alternatively she could issue a ticket. We consider it inappropriate to mess with an American Law Enforcement Officer and pay the steep overnight fee.

Only a mile after a sign tells to that we are leaving the state park. We probably didn’t pay enough attention yesterday in the dark. The next state campground we examine has outhouses, no hook-ups or showers and also costs 35 $ a night, another one with absolutely unusable toilet is 25 $. Those seem to be the common tariffs here.

We drive along the ocean and through cedar alleys, through Mendocino that became famous through a song, until highway no. 1 leaves the coast to come to its northern end in Legget. We drive on hwy # 101 for a short while and turn into the Avenue of the Giants called byway in Humboldt State Park after Garberville. That is the southernmost park of an entire chain that protect the remaining stock of redwoods in California.

Redwoods are with 370 ft / 113 m or more the tallest trees in the world, and to the oldest ones they belong as well. Some specimen took root before the Nativity. They only grow in a zone of moderate rain forest between Oregon and Santa Cruz in California. During the dinosaur age the trees covered the entire northern hemisphere, but retreated since the last ice age due to warmer and drier climate. Their corrosion resistant wood is very interesting for the logging industry. Since the beginning of the Whites’ settlement their stand was reduced to less than 4 %. That had major consequences not only for the trees but for the entire ecosystem. Like in Canada reforestation wasn’t really on the agenda and the soil was left to the erosion. Plants and trees retreated, rivers silted up with the earth washed up, and spawning grounds disappeared. Salmon stock went down drastically. Only then measures were taken by the government to rescue the remaining forests and to go for reforestation. It is said to be successful.

A very nice section in the Humboldt State Park is Mattole Road # 211, branching off to the west. Instead of turning back we follow the bumpy side road that crosses several ranges of hills in steep slopes to a lonesome area called Lost Coast.

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