Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Journey to Redwood National Park

Laura and Beau, from Seiad Valley, were the first hitch that would bring us closer to the Redwoods. As we meandered westward along the Klamath River, Laura told us that she was going to be visiting a friend in the area and could only take us so far. She offered to drop us off at Happy Camp or a place called Clear Creek where she likes to take Beau swimming.

Bigfoot at Happy Camp.
We arrived at Happy Camp 35 miles later, and decided to go on to Clear Creek, 
whose waters sounded more refreshing and inviting than staying in a motel room.

Ten minutes later, we were being dropped off at Clear Creek, away from any 
"civilization" save a few houses across the road from the small parking lot. 
Right beside the bridge was a payphone, of all things!

We said farewell to Laura and Beau and made our way down a path to the edge 
of the creek, anticipating the cool, clear waters that awaited us...

We set up camp along the shore near the bridge, went for a swim, snacked on fresh 
blackberries all around us, and then took turns using the payphone. I called my brother 
and my mom, then returned to begin cooking dinner.

For a Saturday evening and for this being a popular swimming spot with the locals, it was very quiet and peaceful. Only one couple arrived later for a night swim. All evening and the next day, kingfishers, ravens, mergansers, and the sound of the flowing water serenaded us. We slept well that night in such a beautiful place, much better than a stuffy motel room.

The following morning, we swam again before the huge groups began pouring in around midday. We stayed for hours, meeting the people. We chatted with Eileen, her daughter Cathy, Cathy's husband, their children, and played with Minnie, their beagle. Freebird shared many connections with them. Eileen once lived in Hawaii as well. Her daughter, Cathy went to Yale and graduated three years after Freebird did. Cathy had also read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and was fascinated about the Pacific Crest Trail, asking us all sorts of questions. After we talked to them for a few hours, we walked down the road to find a shadier spot to hitch onward.

After finishing lunch, Peter stopped for us. His wife and two daughters went ahead in a separate car. They had all just gotten out of church and were returning home. As we continued along the Klamath River with Peter, we learned more about him. He's a math teacher at the Hoopa Reservation and a whitewater rafter. He said that he had never seen the Klamath River this low and didn't recommend us riding its waves. I guess it's good that the opportunity to float the river didn't come along! 
Some of the rapids were too big for inexperienced rafters like us.

As Peter dropped us off at a market in Orleans, well out of his way, he gave us 
fresh vegetables from his garden - tomatoes, carrots, a zucchini, and bell peppers. 
Then he turned back to return to his family.

 It was very warm in Orleans that day, about 100'. Freebird stepped into the market to 
get us some ice cold water. After picking more blackberries along the fence, 
we walked up the road a little ways to hitch.

On the way we met Norene, a woman who was closing the gate to a farmer's market, packing up at the end of the day. She had several boxes of vegetables left that didn't sell. She told us to take all we wanted and asked for no money in return. We still gave her a donation and added a couple more tomatoes, a zucchini, and a squash to our fresh vegetable collection.

Then we found some shade and sat beneath it in some crunchy, dry grass. It was very evident that northern California has been in drought for three years. Cars came and went occasionally, but no one offered a ride. The shade didn't provide much relief from the heat, but we persisted and waited for someone to stop. Norene eventually drove by, said Orleans wasn't a good place to stay the night, and offered to give us a ride; she just needed a little gas money. We accepted and climbed in her SUV.

As we drove along, Norene shared so many interesting stories of her life with us. One thing I do recall is that she is half Yurok/half Kurak, and she does security for the Yurok and Hoopa Reservations. It was difficult to hear her soft, gentle voice from the backseat, but I do vaguely remember her talking about jumping out of a helicopter! She was such an interesting person to listen to, what I could hear anyway. Norene drove us through the Yurok Reservation. First we stopped at the gas station and watched her chat with all the locals who know and love her. Then, hearing that we were thirsty, she dropped us off out of her way on the edge of the Hoopa Reservation, at what she called "the best spring around." All the residents of the Reservation go there to replenish their water.

After filling up at the spring, we walked over a bridge to look down at the Klamath.
 Then we went back to the spring to pick some blackberries and to continue hitching.

I don't know what these berries are, but I think they're so lovely.
Not many cars drove by, but everyone stopped. Such is the caring nature of the natives on the Reservation. A few people checked on us, even though they weren't heading in our direction. Soon, a Hoopa woman named Heather picked us up. She was driving the back road back to Brookings, Oregon to return to work and to be with her two children. She used to live on the Hoopa Reservation and hopes to move back soon, to be with her family there.

This road Heather was taking leads into the back door of Redwood National Park.

We drove up, up, up through a winding tunnel of forests that all of a sudden opened into this vast panorama of golden prairies and black oak trees. We've arrived in Redwood National Park, after a two-day series of hitches!

We've sure come a long way from the Pacific Crest Trail! From here, no more forest fires were to be seen. We feel such gratitude for all the people who cared for us along the way, opened up to us, and made it possible for us to reach the boundary of the national park. Once again, God has provided us so much. We said goodbye to Heather and camped here for the night, where we could see the sun setting in the Pacific Ocean in the distance. It felt so unbelievable that we were here already.

Well for now, a "see you later" to the Pacific Crest Trail. Here we come, Pacific Ocean.....

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