Ski Mountaineering

Redwood National Park, CA

Oct 23-26, 2020

Reiner Stenzel

This trip was originally planned two weeks earlier, but canceled due to hazardous air quality and wildfire related traffic problems. Luckily we got again a permit for dispersed camping along the gravel benches of the Redwood Creek.

We were a group of seven, Devin from Seattle, Isa, me, Jessica and Larissa car pooled from the West Bay, and Mary and Debra from the East Bay. It is a long drive on the highway 101 from SF to Orrick beyond Arcadia. In spite of frequent road maintenances it took only seven hours. We had all our permits and drove directly to the trailhead for the Tall Trees. After stretching and ordering our packs we started at about 3 pm for an easy 1.5 mile downhill hike to the planned campsite at the Redwood Creek. The last part of the trail went through the forest of huge Redwood trees which was an amazing view. In the late afternoon we found a suitable campsite on gravel next to the creek and some distance from the big trees. Tents were set up, dinner prepared and we ate with appropriate covid distance. It was a great socializing time which went into the darkness. A glimpse of moon shine came through the forest, otherwise it was pitch black. The temps were in the 40-50's and some drizzle from low clouds drove us into our tents. By 8 pm it was almost like dark night.

On Sat., 10/24/2020 we decided to keep our campsite as a base camp and go light to explore the Redwood Creek area. The trip started with a balancing act over a small log to cross the Redwood Creek. Summer was over and a temporary bridge had been removed. We hiked down on the Redwood trail, crossing a partially broken bridge over the 44-Creek, then over the Bond Creek where it became time for lunch. The sun was out and we enjoyed a break at the creek gravels. The ladies enjoyed an exploratory walk into the water which was not too cold. We retuned, met some hikers, took pictures and had a relaxing evening. We had planned out the next day to make a longer hike.

On Sunday, 10/25/2020, we started out to Camp 44, then hiked with the help of Devin's GPS and a stored topo map on various trails until we had the loop trail to Elam Camp. There we joined the Redwood Trail, 5 mi from our basecamp. The upper loop trail had lots of ups and downs through a magnificent redwood forest. There were also sections of elms which grow straight up and close to each other.

We left from Elam Camp by 3 pm and arrived at 6 pm, early enough to cook dinner by daylight. But after 7pm the flashlights were needed. We socialized in the cooking area, Devin explained star formations with his star app, but soon the thin clouds and moon light ended that effort. Between 8 and 9 we vanished into the tents since it is cold and humid near the creek. The morning call was agreed to 6 am.

Got up at a nippy morning. Dew covered the tents. We packed, had a mini breakfast, packed and started at 9 am. The return was only 1 1/2 mi, but all uphill. Devin was the first to leave since he had a long trip back to Seattle. We had only about 7 hrs to get back to the Bay Area. Isa suggested a visit at Lady Bird Grove which had the most perfect and impressive redwood trees. Then we stopped for lunch at Chipotle and ice cream at Baskin-Roberts, shared the driving and arrived by sunset in San Francisco.

Everyone was happy about the hike, the friendship, the amazing trees, the weather without rain, wind or smoke. Special thanks for Isa who planned and organized the trip. We are already thinking where to go next year.

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