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Walking with Sentinels in Redwood National Park

We've always known that we were only here for a short amount of time. Seeing this amazing forest up close has reaffirmed our belief in this, and our commitment to protecting the world around us.

By: Jason Nugent + Save to a List

Forests have always fascinated my partner and I. They contain trees, which are truly marvelous things. They give us oxygen, provide homes for wild life, and cool us down when we hike through them. Heck, they are responsible for some of the most incredible ecosystems and climate regions on the planet.  

We live on the East coast of Canada. It's been a life long dream to explore the West coast, and spend time hiking in the incredible redwood forests of California. That opportunity presented itself a little while ago, and this is a little story about how all of that went.  

We started off in Portland, and quickly jumped onto the I5, heading south to the land of big trees, big surf, and sunshine. The first part of the drive was pretty uneventful - it's a highway after all - but we stayed on the I5 for far too long, and ended up in Yreka, on the other side of the Klamath forest. This seemed like a problem for about eleven seconds, and then we realized that we had inadvertently created an opportunity for a road trip through a pretty incredible natural resource. We dutifully followed our map and then realized that we were about to run out road about an hour from the West coast road that would take us back up to Klamath proper. 

"Not so!" my wife told me. "Do you see that fine, twisty line on the map? The one that sort of looks like an accidental mark on the paper!" And so, off we went.  

That light, though.

It's called Bald Hills Road, apparently, and winds along the border of the Redwood National Park. If you do it at dusk, like we did, you'll be treated to some spectacular driving, through misty forests and lookouts that offer glimpses of the entire forest basin, right out to the ocean. We stopped at as many as we could, leaving only reluctantly when we remembered that we had to get to our inn on time.

The redwood forest obscured in fog as it pours out into the Pacific ocean

The following day we head into Redwood National Park, proper, and just started to hike and take it all in. It is hard to wrap your head around the concept of a tree that is approaching two thousand years old.  The earth does not belong to us.  I'm not sure that redwood or sequoia trees were what Tolkien had in mind when he created Ents, but I would love to have the patience to understand what one of these might say. 

My wife had never seen the Pacific Ocean before, so that was also a big deal here. We made our way down, down, down, until we stood on the sand and ran in the water. Life achievement unlocked! We then made our way back up some other trails, and hiked up through Miner's Ridge. There are places in the park where you get a sense of just how grand the forest is, but it was here, for me, that I think I began to understand how alive this place was.  

Ascending the ridge, with the glorious California sun right in my eyes.

There were a few times when we hiked separately. When you spend a lot of time with someone, you begin to get a sense of how they are feeling, and when you need to back off and allow them some space. I'm sure she's okay with me posting this photo. 

My wife taking a moment to try to sort out a few things

There are metaphors for life all over the park. In life, you are often faced with more than one path through something. It can be hard to choose, but ultimately, DO choose. Infinitely better than not doing anything at all.

We're back in Eastern Canada now, and we are back to hiking in the forests out here. No Redwoods, sadly, but there's a lot of really great Fall colour going on, and for this I am always thankful. That's a topic for another story.  

Me, pretty happy about where I am

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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