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Driving through the Avenue of Giants

As a 90’s kid, I grew up in the age of pagers and landline phones so it was much easier to live in the present and enjoy the adventure that is in front of us. Now? My full time job was to stare at a screen for 40 hours a week, I scroll endlessly on my smart phone after hours — even when I draw (a very passionate past time of mine’s — a story for another post) it involves me staring at yet another screen.

Sometimes, the problem in the routine is just staring at too many screens.

Especially at a time when a good chunk of employees work from home, it’s easy to stay stuck inside and allowing the redwood trees in our backyard remain unvisited.

That’s why we decided… to drive four hours up north. What better time to take a couple days off than before a long weekend?

I’ll admit, my boyfriend spearheaded all the planning for this trip. I was in between jobs and at this point in time, I had applied endlessly and interviewed at a number of companies with no luck. Tired and burnt out from the search, he had enough of my complaining and decided to plan out a break. Just us, his humble 2011 Corolla and the redwood trees.

Four hours of K-pop, EDM music, eye shopping for a new truck, missing a job offer phone call, searching for cell signal to call back, and 3 rest stops later, we made it to our first destination — the Avenue of Giants. (We drove to a small city with 1 bar of cell reception, and I was able to accept the job offer)

Growing up in the Silicon Valley my whole life, I’d been focused on going through school, working on my (almost non-existent) social life, creating large art-related goals and slaving long hours for work. Since graduating high school, it has been a long time since adventuring out of the comforts of tourist cities and the urban landscape — it is probably why I’ve been drawn to the outdoors in recent years.

The Avenue of Giants is a 30+mile scenic highway that runs through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Admittedly, I’ve only heard of Humboldt county because one of my bosses from an old job had attended Humboldt State University — but I’ve come to learn that it is a beautiful county densely filled with mountains, tall trees and rural, quaint towns.

The weather was wonderfully sunny for late May. The drive was nothing short of relaxing. The weather app had told us it was going to be a breezy 65 degree (Fahrenheit) day only to leave the car in sunny 80 degree weather.

Redwood forests aren’t completely new to us, as we do drive around the Santa Cruz mountains regularly during our off hours. But there was something different and unique about the woods up in Humboldt county.

The movie, “Secret World of Arrietty” comes into mind. So beautiful.

Maybe it was the difference in the foliage or the way the sun shone through the trees. Perhaps it was the lack of people due to us visiting on a Thursday.

If we were to do another multi day hike, we will likely aim for a weekday. There’s always something about the contemplative atmosphere when trails are void of foot traffic.

Many fallen trees around the forests — it really shows the age and the state park preservation efforts. One of these days, I would like to learn more about these efforts and about how trees naturally go through our ecosystem. I may be ignorant on many things outside of technology and my immediate job, but rest assured, I’m very curious!

Our next stop was a small detour from the main trails. There was a sign that had said “Four Wheelers Recommended” leading to what looked like a small river off the side. We found parking on the side of the road and trekked on foot through the deep trees and found our way down.

So quaint and quiet.

Below is one of my favorite photos from the Avenue of Giants — we drove a ways to higher elevation of (what I believed) was the same river.

The way the clouds were smeared across the sky just adds a bit of magic to the view. Shame the colors were lost in this snap shot (nothing a little Photoshop magic can’t fix but I digress). Perhaps this is a sign I should invest in a nicer camera than my smartphone.

We took a few more stops but had many talks in between each trail that I may have taken many non-photogenic snapshots along the way. Nothing better than hiking with someone who can bounce conversations back and forth!

This next bundle of photos is from a section of the well known Founder’s Grove where the Mahan Plaque is located.

Image from redwoodhikes.com

We did end up travelling to the Founder’s Grove Nature trail but (admittedly) found it underwhelming compared to the Mahan Loop. Perhaps the idea of seeing a plaque in the middle of the woods entices less people but it is, subjectively the more beautiful section.

At this point, it was roughly around 4pm on a spring afternoon so the sun was starting to lower. Sun rays were now peaking through the redwood giants – adding even more to the scenic route.

Along the main trail, there were many smaller off trails scattered along the route. If we hadn’t stared hard enough or followed the organized branches blocking off other trails, we would have definitely been lead astray. In fact, if it weren’t for the trailheads, we would have lost ourselves in the loop. Perhaps getting lost was part of the adventure.

Something about being packed inside the dense Redwood trees with some fallen ones littered about creates such a mysterious feel, it makes one curious of the story of this particular trail — specifically of the Mahan plaque.

After getting lost for quite a bit, we finally found the aforementioned plaque. The story is that the forest was in the process of being cut down for commercial purposes ( the term used is “logged”) until Laura and James Mahan worked to preserve the Redwood trees via the “Save the Redwood League” by purchasing the lands.

More in-depth information on the folks can be found here — I did find it interesting that Laura started as an artist and eventually focused on redwood preservation efforts which she was better known for.

Given the time constraints (and wanting to make it in time for delicious dinner and night drinking) we had to cut the drive short. We will most definitely need to make a second trip in the future (And hopefully with a new truck)!

Locations for our trip! Image from Google Maps

Day 2 at the Redwood National and State Parks shall be written on another post.

Until then, stay safe and healthy!