Riding the Redwood Coast

October 22nd, 2011


Crossing into California, we turned briefly inland to visit Jedediah Smith State Park, a stunning area of old growth Redwood forest.

The size of these trees, up to 370 feet is incredible, but for me it was their age that was the most awe inspiring – some of them have been standing in the same spot for the last 2,200 years.

Straight out of Crescent City California, we present Mike Redbeard and the Redwoods. Inspired by the location, our new hitcher friend Mike finally overcame his nerves to serenade us with his mandolin. Buen viaje y hasta Patagonia che…

Unfortunately we couldn’t fit Mike in a pannier (the beard was just too big), but this little guy got a free ride down the road – in stark contrast to Bedders’ nemesis…

…the banana slug – a killer combination of overipe banana and super size slug rolled into one. The Redwoods were literally crawling with them. Sensing Bedders’ fear, they targeted her mercilessly – crawling across the tent, onto clothes and best of all, into her shoe one night while she was asleep. Rather the slug than me…

The US and Americans continue to both delight and bemuse me, often at the same time. Why waste time visiting some of the last surviving Redwood forest in the world when 300 slot machines await at “Elk Valley”? (apparently it’s where all the Elk go for their poker fix)

At Prairie Creek we took a welcome detour off the 101 onto a great network of abandoned roads which ran along the clifftops with waves crashing below…

..before turning onto some great singletrack which cut down through giant stands of Redwoods, over fallen trees and across streams…

…before finally emerging onto deserted dunes at Carruthers Cove. We pitched our tent for the night in the dunes and in the morning had breakfast on the beach, watching seals just offshore and a flock of pelicans diving for their morning fish. An amazing spot.

“This county used to thrive on fishing and logging…now it’s all gone to pot”. Cannabis production is now the mainstay of the economy in northern California, and we hit the so called ‘Emerald Triangle’ at harvest time. Sleepy Arcata was definitely the first place I’ve ever been to where the smell of weed hangs over the town like a haze. We had a great stay thanks to Robert, Marissa and Sean, who cooked us up a feast and gave good tips for the road ahead – thanks guys!

Back into the Redwoods, we rode the 32 mile Avenue of the Giants, stunning in the early morning light. However, this preserved ‘beauty strip’ of forest for tourists, just a few hundred metres wide in places, highlighted for me how little actually remains. Only 4% of the North Coast’s original two million acres of Redwoods is left today.

Finally we left the logging trucks and RVs of Highway 101 behind, and emerged into the sunshine and mist of beautiful Highway 1, which would lead us all the way down to San Francisco.

Another great camping spot at Mackerricher State Park and yet another stunning Pacific sunset.

Lunch stop at the lighthouse at Point Cabrillo, just north of Mendocino

Highway 1 is a rollercoaster of a road: tiptoe your way along the cliff tops, plunge down into steep gorges, keep your speed through the tight switchbacks, and sweat your way back up to the cliff tops – then repeat all day. Awesome fun…

…but all very calorie consuming of course – cue a milkshake stop (note very serious milkshake face)…

…to celebrate 2,500 miles pedalled from Anchorage – spelled out in our daily lunch regime.

San Francisco didn’t disappoint with an eerily foggy crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge and an amazing welcome from Liz, our hostess with the mostest. We’re here for a while and looking forward to the arrival of our London Support Crew for a low mileage week of ‘R&R ’ and social re-integration. The vineyards of the Sonoma Valley and the Santa Cruz coast are beckoning – time for some drinking, cycling, wineries and… err did I mention drinking?



10 Responses to “Riding the Redwood Coast”

  1. Ma and Pa Says:

    Wow! The pictures give such a great feel for the places you are seeing. The trees look amazing! What a pity so many of them are gone.
    Hope you have a great time with the visitors and don’t wear them out! Best love to all and many thanks to all those who are taking such good care of you.
    Love you millions.


  2. Sam Wyld Says:

    Hard to believe you’re in San Fran already!!! These photos are fabulous… I am honestly looking forward to a slide show of the entire trip upon your return xxx


  3. Gayle & Mark Says:

    Stunning photos guys, and incredible to have hit the 2500 mile mark already! James not sure about the serious milk shake face…hee hee.
    Enjoy San Fran. (We figured you didn’t get a chance to hook up with Berenice and Bernie then or are they further south?)Take care of each other and enjoy!
    G&M xxx


  4. Penny Pulfrey Says:

    I am so jelous we did a holiday on the west coast and visited the redwoods in Yosemite! Love San Fransisco :-)


  5. Sr B Says:

    What a fabulous set of photos – again. It sounds like you’re having a fab time. Wouldn’t want it any other way for you. You are meeting some great people and they are meeting some great people too. Keep on with the sharing. It’s really valuable. Much love and God bless,
    Sr B xxx


  6. Kris Says:

    Great photos, great camp spots, great journey. Enjoy SF!


  7. Jane Frank Says:

    Hi, today is the first time I’ve seen your blog and I really enjoyed reading it and seeing the pictures. Sounds like you’re having a great adventure!

    Exactly a year ago we were in San Fransisco – love that place! Might not love it so much if I’d come across any banana slugs. Not a fan of slugs at the best of time but they look to be the stuff of nightmares…

    Hope you have many more exciting encounters to come.


  8. Margy Says:

    Hi Both, What a beautiful place Redwood forest is I’m sure it was fantastic as you say!! Agree with you about the slug, awful!!!!
    Glad to hear the calorie intake is as high as ever and the break now will give you time to rest awhile and enjoy some drinking time!!
    All well here, I spent a few days last week with Aunty Molly, she was very interested in your trip & sent love to you both.
    Take care & lots of love
    Margy xx


  9. Phil Says:

    Great photos, remind me of taking John there a long time ago, try to get to SF Cathedral it is an amazing earthquake proof building. Enjoy the wine, it is very good, take a well earned break. Take care and loads of love,
    Phil xxx


  10. Chlo Says:

    Hello Auntie Sarah and Uncle James,
    Glad to see your doing well!! Loved the Pic of Aunty Sarah with the Banana slug!! Hope your Both ok Love to you both from us all!! miss you lots keep drinking those milkshakes !!! LOVE YOUU XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Chlo x


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