1 miles of hiking • 0' elevation gain •
It's 10pm Friday night. I've been in the car for 15 hours so far, on the way back to where we started after heading down to California. My legs are cramped, but it's from sitting in the car instead of hiking. I hate the Redwoods and am never going back.
It's Thursday night and we have the perfect hiking plan for the coming great weather weekend. We're going to park at Opal Creek and hike the 15 miles and 4300' to Bagby Hot Springs, set up camp and ease our sore muscles in the bath tubs. All told, it'll be a tough hike with a great reward at the end, taking advantage of the excellent weather forecasted. We get to bed reasonably early and wake up at 4am Friday to get our plan underway. Checking the weather one last time, it seems it has drastically changed, with clouds and colder temperatures for Friday, and a wall of rain entering the Pacific Northwest overnight. Shit! We start looking at alternative plans, and looking at the forecasted precipitation pattern, it is planned to rain the entire state of Oregon on Saturday. We look south and notice that Redwood National Park is barely missing the pattern and has good weather planned both days.
After a vote, we scrap our initial plan and head to the Redwoods, a 7-hour drive south. So the four of us (Shane, Kevin, Kevin's dog Meko, and I) head out the door and drive south, our eyes set on the highest rated hike on http://redwoodhikes.com, called THE MINERS' RIDGE AND JAMES IRVINE LOOP.
After seven hours, we pull in to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and pop into the bookstore for any permits we'd need. The woman tells us the "environmental camp" we want to stay at along the beach is closed to budgetary constraints with park maintenance. I dig a little deeper with the woman, her nose spidered red with blood vessels and the scent of Marlboros hanging from her clothes, as to how exactly a backcountry camp gets closed. She replies, "I don't get what you're asking". So much for a wink and a nod. Despite the closure, the entirety of the Redwoods don't allow dogs on the trails, so even if we wanted to stay at the camp anyway, we'd likely get ticketed for having Meko with us.
Fuck, time for another change of plans. We stop at the Merriman Grove Interpretive Trail, a brutal quarter mile out-and-back, to stretch our legs while we think of what to do. While beautiful, we ultimately decide to head back north to Oregon and find a place to camp along the Oregon Coast. The interpretive trail would be the only hiking we did the entire trip.
We're driving north along US101, now back in Oregon, and I find an easy hike into the Grassy Knob Wilderness in Siskiyou National Forest on my iPhone. We can at least camp on a mountain-top overlooking the ocean and try to salvage what's left of our trip. Unfortunately, we've driven north back into the approaching weather. We stop in Port Orford, OR for some surprisingly delicious fish and chips, the sky dark gray with clouds and fog, and ultimately decide to head back that night instead of camping in the rain.
So here I am in the car Friday night at 10pm in the pouring rain. I call my wife Christy to let her know we're an hour away, only to find it's been beautiful in Portland all day, and it's a beautiful night as well. The Redwoods, a huge multi-organization operation guarding some of the most beautiful and massive living things in the world, turned us away without a single place for us to camp due to budgetary constraints and arbitrary rules and process.
What a waste.