There's this place on the northern coast called Fern Canyon. Everyone else in the family has been there, several times each, on the biology field trips that our local high school sponsors. Somehow I was always the one that stayed home or back at camp cooking during these excursions. Everyone talked about it in awed tones, so I decided to take the opportunity to visit it on my trip last week.
I wasn't sure if it would work out as I was going through the area with only about three hours of daylight left and I knew the kids got there by walking a five mile hiking trail from the edge of the state park. Turns out, alternately, you can drive down to near the beach camping area and there's a trail head just a few tenths of a mile from the beginning of the canyon. Being on my own, I chose that route.
Join me? Maybe you should go refill your tea or coffee cup first. I couldn't resist sharing a LOT of photos. Ready? Let's go -
We start out walking through salt marsh. Hello Mr. Roosevelt Elk. I know from previous camping experiences to stay my distance.
It's late in the day at the peak of summer, so even though the shadows look long as we head into woodland, there are almost two hours of light left.
Hello to you too Crow. He was singing. Loudly. When he sang, he drowned out the sound of the surf in the background.
It's so pretty here. I see some ferns? Is this the canyon?
Not quite. Here, it almost looks like a portal to another.....
..... reality. Truly, it is.
Look at the people to get a sense of the scale of things. Although, even then, I can't explain how it feels to have the canyon all around you.
The walls are moss and ferns and water whispering, laughing, rustling, splashing.
In rare spaces the layers of earth are laid bare. The plant lover in me wants to name all these tiny greenies. Do you see the wee caterpillar?
Time, water, and winter storms have brought trees down, a giant sculpture garden everywhere you look.
It goes on. Deeper. Higher. Narrower.
And on. Eventually the canyon rises to meet the slope of the hill that is climbing down towards the ocean. Trailheads offer choices to wander through the giant trees - redwoods, alders, douglas fir. But we'll turn around for today and walk back through the heart of the canyon.
There is water everywhere, splashing and sparkling in places like falling diamonds.
Or looking like a veil of ghostly mist.
Tree trunks like scoured bones of long ago giants.
Nature calling it all back to itself in this green wedge of fecundity.
It's opening up again, the light is slanted high up in the tree branches.
At the coast the sun skims all the way down to the true horizon and then, almost between breaths, dark flows over. As beautiful as it is, I'm thinking it would be more than a little spooky here by myself after sunset.
Almost out of the woods.
Until my next visit. I know I will want to come visit again, in the morning sun, when the sun is high above me, when the gray and fog swirls along for company. I'm already looking forward to the possibilities.