2016 Trip to Cali for the Holidays
My family holiday tradition is to spend Christmas in Fort Bragg. So this year after all the Christmas craze was over, my plan was to stay past New Years to spend a little more time with family and to hopefully get out and take some photos.
I knew I wanted to get some photos of the last sunset of 2016, so on New Year’s Eve day I went down to the Noyo Headlands Park and Coastal Trail. When I was a kid, this area was all part of the Georgia-Pacific lumber mill and was off limits to the public. The mill closed in 2002 and in 2015 the City opened this new park along the coast of Fort Bragg. There are two access points to the park. From the north end of town at West Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive, (while I was there the stairway going down to Glass Beach was closed for repair), and from the south end at Cypress Street and South Main Street. There will be approximately 4.5 miles of trail once the two ends meet. The next phase of the project (to be constructed in 2017-2018) is to finish the additional one mile trail that will connect the north and south trails. The park includes an 8-foot wide paved trail that is great for walking, riding bikes, wheelchairs, rollerblades, people of all ages, and includes three restrooms, 14 unique benches designed by local artists, beach access, and a very small visitor center that has plans to become a premier marine research and education facility. When the park is completed you will be able to walk from Noyo Harbor to MacKerricher State Park and possibly all the way to 10- mile beach, which is yes, 10 miles north of Fort Bragg.
Any hoo, I digress. From the south parking lot, I walked north on what used to be the lumber companies airplane strip. At the end of the trail, I started setting up my camera when I noticed whales spouting in the distance. There were about six to eight whales that hung around for a few hours before moving on. I’m not sure if these were resident whales or if they were just passing by.
After the whales moved on, I decided to walk back towards the parking lot along the shoreline on the new paved trail. About halfway back I took an off trail detour (not recommended because of ticks) to a spot where I could see a group of seals hanging out on the rocks below. They were sleeping and catching the last bit of sun before sunset and high tide.
I got back on the paved trail and continued on where I could either go left to the parking lot or to the right where the trail ended at the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean. So…, as you can probably guess, I went to the edge of the bluff and stayed there until after sunset.
(the last sunset of 2016)
Over the next few days the temperature dropped to the low 30’s with rain. With only a few more days before my planned departure, I got a break in the weather. One guaranteed day of sunshine right before I was scheduled to leave, woo hoo! This was my opportunity to go back to the Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve (Reserve) to see if the streams that run through the grove were flowing. (I was there a few months ago when the majority of the streams were dry.) The Reserve is located between Comptche (pronounced Comp-she) and Ukiah on the Orr Springs Road. (From Mendocino take the Comptche Ukiah Road east from Hwy 1. After going through the little town of Comptche the road turns into Orr Springs Road and the Reserve is about 15 miles past Comptche. From Ukiah take Orr Springs Road west from US 101.) Well, as I had hoped, there had been enough rain to fill the streams.
The Reserve was started back in 1945 by a nine-acre donation from Robert Orr. It is now 2,743 acres and has a two-miles-long loop trail. The trail starts out from a small parking lot that includes pit toilets and picnic tables that are very accessible. The trail is pretty steep at first with a 900 foot elevation gain. Once you reach the top, and catch your breath, you forget about the uphill walk. Being in the middle of these amazing trees is humbling.
One of the first things I noticed on my first visit was that most of the trees showed signs of a forest fire. In June 2008, a lightning strike started the fire but it has since recovered with lots of new growth, lush ferns and grasses.
(Mom and Tanda taking a break while I take photos)
This amazing little grove has a 367.5-foot redwood tree that was once thought to be the tallest tree in the world. Other taller trees have since been found in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Redwoods National Park.
(size and scale)
I left California a week before the first major rain storm of 2017 hit the coast. I would imagine that after all the rain this area has received in the month of January, this little grove probably has water covering the entire floor.
I’m looking forward to my next visit.
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