Redwood National and State Parks is special for many reasons but for me it is the parks' unique combination of spectacular redwoods, rivers, wildlife and coastal beauty that burns it into my memory. In this third and final revisit of my 1970s redwood summer journals I share with you three special places: Footsteps Rocks on the Coast, Nickel Creek, and the Confluence of the South Fork with the main Smith River, which is just east of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
An exceptionally blustery afternoon. The ocean is tempestuous. The seabirds are seeking shelter. Great masses of water are tossed against the glistening rocks. A young harbor seal is struggling with the heavy surf—its dark glistening head bobbing up between the waves. A flotilla of immaculate gulls soar on braced wings overhead riding the strong wind downhill. They are so beautiful against the deep blue of the sky-dome—the edges of their bodies burning with the full radiance of the overhead sun. They appear one by one over the looming brow of the northernmost of these rocks. They disappear northward closely following the forested shore.
Pigeon guillemots come reeling around the precipice with flaming-red legs dangling. The Postelsia sea palm is taking quite a beating—a sprig just went flying before a wave. The clear water trickles off the sparkling rocks as a cormorant flings itself off a rock downwind. A spray of seawater is blown across a rock in a spray rainbow.
|My 1974 Kodachrome slide of algae draped at low tide|
A few times a week I would guide a nature walk down the trail from the Crescent Beach Overlook parking lot crossing Nickel Creek to Endert's Beach to catch the low tide and give folks a chance to explore the invertebrate wonders of the intertidal world. On September 4, I walked up the creek by myself and found a quiet spot to listen and observe.
Journal Entry. Nickel Creek near Trail to Endert’s Beach, Redwood National Park
Water—running water. Flowing in rippled sheets disturbed by water-striders and tumbling leaves. Flowing though small gaps like molten glass. Relecting the sky between the filigree of branches and leaves and revealing the clarity and repose of the sorted pebbles beneath.
Large maple leaves fall to this liquid glass to drift across the pool and to be stopped before the next small cascade in a jam of leaves. Beautiful traceries of leaf skeletons are left on the bottom. Shadows flow across the rounded forms of the fissured and hollowed rock-bodies while mosses fill the cracks and spill over their brows. Silken breathing threads connect branch to branch and rock to rock.
Winged beings flit through the shafts of sunlight that move with the swaying alder canopy. Rings of darkness and light emanate from the ripples distorting the boles of the trees and mixing the deep browns of the trunks through the yellow-greens of the foliage. Ferns drape in graceful arcs above the water and cast delicate shadows on the rocks.
The air is still, cool, and serene. Leaves bow silently. The water surface is shimmering with the joy of being and sings it lulling song to me.
|My 1974 Kodachrome slide of Crescent Beach covered by logs washed down |
the rivers from upstream redwood logging
Though on U.S. Forest Service lands just to the east of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, I include this final journal entry as this confluence is quite beautiful and the encounter quite moving.
I shall become a rock- a part of this canyon, these palisades. Here I will remain- watching, waiting, listening- unhurried. Mergansers wing upstream between my walls- winging above these waters flowing together into full embrace.
I would wall off this road to better hear the dipper’s clear watery song. I would use these quiet pools as my eyes and reflect faithfully all that passes over them. My life would be the clear, rolling water—my breath the breezes moving through the overhanging grasses. The spruces and madrones will clothe my steep slopes and hold the sky.
Here I would remain— at one with myself.