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Jackie and I found ourselves in the northwesternmost corner of California on our way back from the eclipse in Oregon. Today's adventure had two main pursuits. The first was a CC-listed summit, the first one found on this ecclectic list. Dennis Poulin, who seems to have climbed most summits around these parts had a short TR on PB that seemed straightforward enough. The second part of the day would be exploring around the Redwoods State and National Parks with an adventure to find the highest tree. I had been to this neck of the woods back in 1992 when my pal Eric and I were on our way to Alaska on a 5-month adventure. Back then, the Libbey Tree along the Tall Trees Trail was believed to be the highest and we'd paid it a visit on an overnight trek. Since then, higher trees were discovered, the current king being called the Hyperion Tree. The Park Service will tell you they can't divulge it's location but an easy online search resulted in a coordinate found on the wikipedia page. It turns out to be less than half a mile from the Libbey Tree but requires a creek crossing and a quarter mile of cross-country travel.
After returning to the highway we stopped along the Smith River, low at this time of year, so that Jackie could take a swim. She'd been talking about soaking her feet in a creek or river the past few days so this seemed a good opportunity. She swam across the placid waters to dive off some rocks on the other side where the pool was much deeper. Afterwards we continued south on US199 to the Starbucks in Crescent City. Here I did some quick research to find another peak in the area since the first was a little too easy.
It was after 4p when we finally started off on the trail, somewhat popular judging by the dozen or so cars in the two lots (that can hold maybe two dozen vehicles, all told) there. The trail descends about 700ft over the course of a mile and a half where it meets the Tall Trees Loop, Redwood Creek and the famously tall trees that grow along the alluvial soils found there. Even the hike down had some rather large trees and we were not disappointed after the work it took to get there. Saving the Tall Trees Loop for later, I led us out to Redwood Creek where it was necessary to take off our boots to wade across the shallow but wide stream. Once on the other side, we had a bushwhacking adventure that turned out to be surprisingly fun. The Hyperion Tree is located about a quarter mile up a side watercourse, McDonald Creek. One online description has you wading up this creek to reach the tree but we took an overland route that kept our feet dry and wasn't all that hard. It followed partly along an old logging road that can still be found on the topo maps. We then stuck to the ridge where the brush was minimal until we were almost directly above the Hyperion Tree. Following the GPSr, we then descended about 200ft until we found it right where we expected it to be. The tree is quite massive at the base and it is impossible to see the upper crown through the forest from below, but we were elated to have our little mission turn out successfully. We walked around it and took some pictures in the five minutes or so we spent there. A use trail of sorts went down to McDonald Creek and we followed this, thinking it would be an even easier way back. The trail seemed to end at the waters' edge and we could find no continuation of it on the other bank, so we went back the way we had come. Only later did I find online that one was expected to wade the creek back to Redwood Creek. At the end of the bushwhack return we crossed Redwood Creek once again (we found a bunch of frogs along the shore, too) before taking another half hour to complete the Tall Trees Loop. Now past 6p, we were the last of the day visitors left in the area. We crossed paths with a few backpackers on our way back, not returning to the TH until 6:45p.
We spent the next couple hours driving back out to US101 and then south to Eureka where we got dinner and found a place to spend the night at the edge of town. More adventures on tap for tomorrow...
This page last updated: Tue Aug 29 08:39:10 2017
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