One Nighter

Brian walking in Henry Cowell State Park.

Brian walking in Henry Cowell State Park.

The "van plan" is to maximize the number of adventures on remote back roads. Sometimes life doesn't cooperate, however. Then, the challenge is finding adventure--or at least a little beauty--close to home.

A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg (DVT). Treatment has kept us close to home and me on the sofa. A week off can seem like a pleasant indulgence; a month off feels like a sentence. 

Last Friday I was awarded a slightly longer leash, and we ran with it. Booking a site at the only local campground with availability, we headed to the redwoods. We may have to postpone our climbing adventure in the Wind Rivers, but we can camp and walk along the California coast.

Henry Cowell State Park was our destination. On arriving late Saturday afternoon, we set out on a walk to Cathedral Grove. The trail, a sandy path, lead south and then west over some dunes and into a canyon dotted with second-growth redwoods.

The walk was quietly rewarding. A thick marine layer clung to the coast, reflecting the light of the sinking sun over the dunes and into the forest. Signs detailed efforts to reintroduce fire into a landscape one dependent on it. Ravens scolded us as we walked along a burn scar. 

Cathedral Grove is a circle of second-growth redwoods surrounding what must have been an enormous tree. On a downed trunk inside the ring, Brian dumped sand from his shoes. I stood inside a tree hollowed by fire to take a photograph of another tree. 

We were hungry, and darkness was approaching. The forest and dunes were empty of humans as we retraced our steps back to camp. The sound of kids racing on their bikes around the campground loop let us know we were close to camp, and the sound of traffic reminded us that we weren’t far from home. Still, it was nice to get away.