Fern Canyon

Trip Start May 24, 2008
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Trip End Jun 01, 2008


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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, May 26, 2008

Next up, I decided we'd best hit the trail for Fern Canyon if we were going to do it.  I almost decided against it in favor of more Redwood groves, but went on since we *had* seen one grove there around the Corkscrew Tree, one huge Redwood, and were going to Stout Grove on the way out the next day.

Boy am I glad I went to Fern Canyon.  Even though there was a fee to get down Davidson Road (and there were no elk in the meadow at the head of the road this time), it was well worth it.  The drive was a bit surreal, with the road almost turning sepia-toned.  Not because of shade or lack of light, but because of all the dust that was kicked up by the cars driving by and collecting on every possible surface.

Not far after the guard station, we came across a group of 4 bull elk, their antlers already to 4+ points and still covered in velvet that practically glowed in the early afternoon light.  They were grazing in a field of blue-violet lupine and green grass, and close enough to the car that I really didn't even need the telephoto (though I used it anyway).

After that, we continued on toward the campground, and I pulled over to try and get Ian to drive.  Just for a mile or two.  But he refused, and rather than stand there all day (besides, he's better at winning the staring-contest game than I am), I gave in and continued.  I did begin to wonder about these two guys, though.  Here I was in an H3, one of THE ideal 4x4 vehicles, with two guys who had no interest driving.  Or at least so they claimed.  (Ian went on to say "dirt road, sport vehicle, 19 year old with the keys.... Bad combination".  Not sure if I believe him or not, though)

When we passed through the fee station, the ranger asked us about the H3 and said we'd have no trouble at all with the creek crossings.  My reaction: Cool!  Ian's: Sweet!  Michael's: "Creek crossing??"  Sure enough, we got a little farther down the road and there was the first crossing, and Michael's reaction was a very brief "you have -got- to be kidding me" as I eased right on through.

It wasn't far from there to the parking lot for Fern Canyon, and I loaded up with all the camera gear and my stick, then we headed out along the trail.  Ian and I appear to have similar interests in photos, as we were both stopping fairly often to get them (though whether that was partially his idea, or if he was just taking pictures while I was stopped, I don't know).

When we got to the canyon, we discovered they hadn't put the crossing platforms out yet.  I'd been forewarned about this, thanks to a guide for photographing the Redwoods that I'd read.  In that guide, it said that if the platforms aren't out and the creek's not too high, don't be afraid to get your feet wet.  So I took shoes old enough to be no problem wading with.  Michael and Ian did not.

Michael, once again, got ahead of us picture takers, at least until he got to one last wobbly log that was the only way across the stream.  I grinned at him, said "oh, that's easy", sat down and took my socks off, then waded right in.

Ian and Michael both laughed in disbelief as I stood in the ankle-deep water and grinned at them, then I waited on the other side of the crossing to see if anyone would follow.

Watching those two try to figure out how to get across without getting their feet wet (in Michael's case) or with minimal wetting (Ian's) was very amusing.  Ian made it, Michael gave up.  And since he only brought one pair of shoes, he waited for us while Ian and I continued.

Indeed, the view farther down the canyon was well worth some wet feet and shoes.  It just kept getting better.  The photos I'd seen of the canyon weren't too awfully impressive, but there were enough people raving about it, I wanted to try.  I see why it's so well known.  It was beautiful, and extremely peaceful.  I could almost imagine gnomes or water sprites hiding in the ferns along the walls watching us traipse through their magical realm.

Finally, though, we were gone long enough I decided we'd best turn back. It looked like the canyon was starting to narrow down anyway, so we backtracked to rejoin Michael and return to the car.  There, I switched to (ironically) my wading shoes.  Don't ask why I left the wading shoes in the car and wore my walking shoes in the water...
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