Jeezaloo!

image Stout Grove

This grove of colossal redwoods is easily accessible from Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park depending upon the time of the year.

Today we walk to the Winter Boat Launch within the campground and take a short rocky trek along the Smith River.

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We arrive at the Summer Footbridge that crosses the river where, I admit, I feel a bit nervous halfway across.

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Patting myself on the back and wiping my brow, I discreetly celebrate my bravery.

A short distance later we enter a serene, surreal, and scenic trail of  redwoods.

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Their stature of some 300-feet truly amazes us…

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Until I discover…

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So Jeff!


Stout Grove is a perfect example of an alluvial-flat. The redwoods here thrive in the rich soil of the Smith River floodplain where the flood waters also inhibit the growth of understory trees so common in other groves. (Redwood Visitor Guide)

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Ferns and redwood sorrel carpet the ground. Horsetail reed, pictured below, grows along Miller Creek which empties into the Smith River.

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According to multiple sources on the internet, Stout Grove is one of the most photogenic redwood stands on the coast.

Finally, no one says it better than Shakespeare. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

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The plaque pictured above is on a bench in Stout Grove. Save the Redwoods League, founded in 1918, protects and restores redwood forests… to ensure that forests that take one thousand years to grow will be here for another thousand years. People and families generously donate a gift of money to support these ongoing efforts in addition to providing funds for further study and teaching. (savetheredwoods.org)

The Coast Redwood

image Sequoia Sempervirens

Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park is surrounded by several amazing walking trails. One of my favorites is the Self-Guided Nature Trail circling the Hike &Bike Tent Campsites and Picnic Area. All the information I am sharing with you I learned from plaques along the trail. (Oh, how I enjoy these small billboards of facts!)

For today’s hike, however, I will be your guide.

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Like every plant species, coast redwoods adapt to surviving and thriving in a specific environment. These sequoias prefer a mild climate with little seasonal or daily temperature changes. High moisture levels, dense dripping fog, and damp, well-draining soil are their ideal living conditions.

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Naturally occurring fires are healthy events for forests. Fire opens the canopy and floor to more sunlight and helps recycle nutrients to the soil. Think of it as nature’s way of removing old vegetation and debris. The black fire scars below are reminders of the need for destruction to create healthy environments for new and surviving plants and trees.

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Fallen redwoods also encourage new plants and trees to grow. These “nurse logs” are the perfect environment for germinating seeds.

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The picture below is an example of a western hemlock that started growing this way. As the tree grew, its roots reached around like octopus tentacles surviving on the nutrients of the rotting redwood log and surrounding soil. The “nurse log” is almost completely decomposed leaving the hemlock standing on its own.

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Downed trees also provide homes and shelter for animals.

Redwoods are vulnerable to high winds because their roots, believe it or not, only reach a depth of 6 to 8 feet. For added support, however, their root systems extend outward and interconnect with the roots of other trees.

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The clover-shaped leaves below are redwood sorrel. They are perfect groundcover for the forest because their leaves are sensitive to bright sunlight.

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The next section of the trail will lead us to the edge of the Smith River.

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The periodic flooding of the Smith River is important to the redwood forest ecosystem because the receding floodwaters leave behind a new layer of nutrient-rich soil, called alluvium. These fertile alluvial deposits contribute to the growth of new trees and plants.

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There is a lesson learned from this self-guiding tour… Everything around us is connected and works together to create a healthy system of living organisms. John Muir, the Scottish naturalist, sums it up with these words, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

The self-guided trail information was produced by the North Coast Redwood Interpretive Association


SOME FYIs

Pine cones from coast redwoods are tiny, about the size of a grape, and contain 50 to 100 seeds inside. (plaque on self-guided trail)

img_4544 etsy.com


The redwood sorrel produces a single white or pink bloom. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

img_4547 fs.fed.us (photo by Dr. Gerry Carr)

img_4645 wildflower.org (photo by Fran Cox)

When it gets too sunny, their leaves fold up like an umbrella right before your eyes! (en.m.wikipedia.org)

img_4633 leavesofplants.blogspot.com


There are 3 species of redwood:

  • Coast redwood

img_4634 online.sfsu.edu (photo by Ed Cooper)

Coast redwoods grow the tallest and are located along a narrow strip of the Pacific coast stretching from southern Oregon to Big Sur in California. (Mother Nature Network mnn.com)

  • Giant sequoia

img_4636 americanforests.org

The girth of the sequoia prompts its name. These redwoods average more than 20 feet in diameter and up to 35 feet across. They only grow within the Sierra Nevada mountain range. (Mother Nature Network mnn.com)

  • Dawn redwood

img_4640 savetheredwoods.org (photo by Zhang Angie)

Once one of the most widespread tree species in the northern hemisphere, the dawn redwood was thought to be extinct for millions of years until re-discovered in the Sichuan and Hubei provinces of China in 1944.

Due to preservation efforts, such as the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwood Preserve in North Carolina, the dawn redwood has been re-introduced to the United States as a deciduous, fast-growing, ornamental tree with colorful leaves in the fall. (dawnredwood.org)

img_4637treesthatpleasenurseryblog.com


img_4635 forestry.about.com

img_4642 chinatoday.com

img_4643 chinatoday.com

Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

image The Northern California Coast

Eighty-two miles south of Port Orford on Highway 101 lies Crescent City, CA. But 10 miles out of Oregon we take Route 197 along the Smith River to spend 3 nights at Jedediah Smith State Park, part of the Redwood National Park system.

These fluffy feather-like fronds greet us everywhere as we cross into California. We’re not in Oregon anymore, Dorothy! Notice the river in the background.

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The Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park protects 10,000 acres of ancient redwood groves where summer temps reach as high as 85 degrees and winters range between 30 and 65 degrees. Although snow is rare, an average of 100 inches of rain falls from December through March. (state park brochure)

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The tree stump beside our RV is as long as our car!

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Coastal redwoods thrive in the lower elevations that bring mild temps, rainy winters, and foggy days. Trees grow as high as 350 feet with a base diameter of 20 feet. Their root systems are broad and shallow. Redwoods resist insects, fire, and rot and resiliently sprout back when cut or badly burned. (state park brochure)

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In 1994 Jedidiah Smith and 2 other state parks, Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek joined the Redwood National Park to preserve 105,516 acres of old-growth forest. (state park brochure)

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WHO WAS JEDIDIAH?

img_4537 jedidiahsmithsociety.org

Jedidiah Strong Smith was the first non-native American to travel from the Mississippi River across the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast.

Jedidiah Smith’s wish was to be “the first to view a country on which the eyes of a white man had never gazed and to follow the course of rivers that run through a new land.” (state park brochure)

img_4538 pinterest.com

His story west begins in 1821 when, at age 22, he joined a fur-trapping party across southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and the Mojave Desert. (state park brochure)

img_4541 truewestmagazine.com

In 1826 the Mexican Governor, Echeandia, ordered the fur-trappers to leave the area, so Smith and his party headed north. (state park brochure)

Smith and men in the Mojave Desert in 1826, as painted by Remington ca. 1905.

Smith and men in the Mojave Desert in 1826, as painted by Remington ca. 1905.

A year later, they were forced to move once again and he led his party even further north, along the coast’s redwood groves.

Unfortunately in 1831, Jedediah was killed in a Comanche ambush along the Santa Fe Trail. His 10 years of travel and discovery, however, left lasting reports on the geology and geography of the west and filled in many blank spaces on our country’s map. (state park brochure)

img_4539 santafetrailresearch.com