Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hiking in Fern Canyon

Imagine a crevice in stone deep below the sea. It is dark and cold and scary. Then time passes, the sea level drops, the crevice drains and gains the sun. Yet it doesn't dry out. A stream meanders through the flat bottom, ferns fur the walls. Tall trees tower overhead and when they tumble down they lay there like scattered and forgotten giant's tinker toys. Beyond the mouth of the narrow canyon, sea grass and marsh run to a sandy beach and Roosevelt elk make their home here. I believe that the movie Jurrasic Park 2 was filmed partly here. There is something about the cool, green timelessness that makes seeing dinosaurs an easy feat for my imagination.

The drive in through Gold Bluffs Beach has a washboarded gravel road, the traffic had dusted the ferns and redwoods with a thick blanket of ghostly grey. For excitement there were also three places where my mini-van could easily ford the stream across the road. That was fun though and one of the teens with me said, "I have wanted to ford a river ever since I used to play Oregon Trail."

It was an $8 Day Use Fee, but it was the most fun I have had on $8 in a long time. The campground is on the sandy beach along the Pacific, but this time we were here for the hike. There are a few choices on the trails, up to the elk prairie and the park headquarters, but we walked the gravel streambed and planks placed strategically to help keep your feet dry.

In the future, when the stress of daily life seems overwhelming, I will be able to close my eyes and visualize the soothing peace of green walls and running water. I hope these pictures help share that with you.

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