When camping on Gold Bluff Beach, CA you may be terrified by the signs of dangerous wild elk and abrupt tsunami warnings, but you will likely feel a deep sense of nurturing from the proximity to ancient redwoods and thick sounds of Mother Ocean waves. Two miles up the dirt road parallel the beach leads you to one of my favorite places on Earth, Fern Canyon. Carved out by an ancient river, this 50+-foot-high canyon full of five species of ferns and thick moss is tucked away from the beach, a contrast of environment from our ocean front campsite. Home Creek runs through the canyon, providing a pristine and calming, cooling atmosphere for a stroll back in time. A slight breeze plays through the dancing ferns, some species hundreds of millions of years old. So prehistoric and lush is this spot right off the beach that parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here. A mile hike through the canyon leads you to the entrance of trails through the old growth forest named Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and Murrelet State Wilderness.
The 14 plus miles we hiked on Saturday were through these old growth redwoods, some 18 feet in diameter and hundreds of feet tall. Parts of the trail were fern covered, shaded by the canopy of hundred-year-old or older redwoods, not prone to disease or parasitic disasters, while other parts were exposed to the sunlight and fog along chilled creeks and banana slug territories. At any moment, you would expect to stumble upon a brontosaurus grazing on foliage. I breathed in and breathed out as deep and full as possible. The flora and fauna are absolutely fabulous, with Deer ferns, Sword ferns, huckleberries, vibrant orange tiger lilies, and spruce all thriving among the towering redwood. Even the earth below feels cushioned as you step cautiously to avoid the nubs of redwood roots. I could have sat among these friends until the end of time.
If I am ever missing and you cannot find me, on the Miner’s Ridge trail is where I’ll be, listening to the whispers of the ferns and shouts of the waves, all relaying the secret timeless mysteries of life.