April 21, 2016
By meriwether, Apr 22 2016 08:58PM
Some have stood for over 2,000 years. They were here before the Birth of Christ . . . probably just young and robust saplings then, but well on their way in their 2,000 year journey upward to become the tallest living organisms on the planet. At 350 feet tall, they have no equal in the plant or animal kingdom. The Redwoods of Northern California are a sight to behold and cherish!
A bicycle ride along The Avenue Of The Giants through Humboldt Redwoods State Park is magical. It could be called The Cathedral Of The Giants, because like a medieval cathedral, one’s eyes are drawn upward to the vaulted canopy of foliage far above. Rays of sunlight filter through the tree tops and seem to compete for places to illuminate on the shaded forest floor.
They range in a narrow coastal band 25 to 35 miles wide for a distance of five to six hundred miles from Southwest Oregon to central California; in fact, the Redwoods of Big Sur are at their southern limit. They used to encompass 1,000,000,000 acres of coastal territory bathed by the dense fogs of the Pacific, but are now down to approximately 150,000 acres having fallen victim to climate change, human incursions, and lumber companies wanting to turn these Living Giants into homes. Thank goodness for those that had the foresight back in the early part of the 20th century to preserve these groves for future generations to appreciate and wonder at.
This preservation is commemorated in Founders Grove where a ceremony was held decades ago at the base of Founders Tree, an immense Redwood that reaches 346 feet skyward standing straight and true and tall and proud. It is good to know that these awesome creations of nature are here and that they HAVE BEEN preserved, and that they will be here for centuries and centuries for all to enjoy . . . for as long as there are Redwoods!
I did get my 8,000 miles, and it happened in a very appropriate place - Eureka - which is what I exclaimed as 8,000 miles graced my odometer. My ride through northern California has been good - the north winds have abated somewhat and the beauty and serenity of these Redwood forests evokes a sense of reverence for what nature has created here.
The climbing has been difficult along this rugged northern California coastline - for a while yesterday I thought I was back in Big Sur as I pushed hard up and over a headland of 1500 feet or more, and then down to sea level and into Crescent City, only a few miles from the California/Oregon state line.
I have felt as though I’ve run a marathon at the end of each these Golden State days . . . in fact, I probably burn as many calories as a 26.2 mile run . . . or more. Fortunately, there have been a few coastal plains of late where the peddling is easier, and a welcome break from the constant climbing is appreciated by this cyclist.
I'm meeting more and more cyclists who are on the Pacific Coast Bike route - most of them headed south of course. I met Kim, Alex, and Steve at the hiker/biker campsite in Standish-Hickey State Park. They were all cycling southward from Portland down to San Francisco. Alex and Steve are from Austin, TX, and Kim is from Toronto. Kim works for Butterfield and Robinson, an upscale bicycle touring company that has been doing supported tours for a lot of years. This was her first unsupported solo tour.
I've ridden my final miles in California. There have been 1400 of them since I entered The Golden State at Needles (which was my 2nd entrance - the first didn’t go so well as you may recall) . . . a few hundred more than my crossing of Texas since I rode not only the width of California from east to west across the Mohave Desert, but also almost all of the coastline from LA to the Oregon border. It’s been a struggle with the wind and rugged west coast terrain, so it was a joy to ride 24 easy miles along a flat coastal plain aided by a rare south wind - a most fitting way to enter the great Northwest and my 25th state. Hello Oregon!
The weather is turning colder, and the rains are coming in off the Pacific this weekend . . . hunkering down here in the small coastal town of Brookings for a day or two before Proceeding On up the majestic Oregon coastline.
Many thanks to Stan Lehnert for his recent donations to both Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children in support of my ride!