We spent the first day of our bike trip in California getting out of the urban agglomeration of the San Francisco Bay Area: by Cañada bike trail along the seismic Hayward Fault Zone, and then very hilly La Honda road, we reached a small settlement of La Honda; next day, we continued by Pescadero road towards the famous California State Route 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, it’s worth noting that it has a bike lane on the side). There were some beautiful vistas on the way, forests and farmland, and we saw our first redwoods, but our first big stop was meant to be Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The spirit of Burning Man also followed us for a bit in the shape of surrealistic statues on some of the farms, like the one below.
By the way, some of my mates from Burning Man camp, which was Playa Bike Repair, knowing my tendency to spend time naked, that I might be able to bike naked in some parts of our route. I didn’t actually have much expectations for that, as most of our biking would be on the highway, but when we cycled down the small Cloverdale Rd and Gazos Creek Rd before hitting PCH, it seemed empty enough and I took my chance! There was just one car passing by and I was not sure they noticed I was naked. I had to put on my shorts when we got to PCH, but not for too long, as we decided to make a brief stop at the beach of Año Nuevo State Reserve. The beach was totally deserted, and all three of us got naked within a moment to enjoy the late afternoon sun after our first 2 days of biking.
Our rest stop was pretty active though: isn’t the best way to relax after a particular exercise, say biking, to do another exercise, say running? At least that’s what we did there for a bit, besides, some stretching too.
Then we found different kinds of brown algae scattered by waves around the beach. This one above looked like a minimalistic copy of a tropical island covered with coconut palm trees. So-called bull kelp proved to be a great toy to play with (in this light, I definitely prefer its common name over the scientific Nereocystis, which means mermaid’s bladder).
Niko found two specimens of the same length and gave the art of poi both naturist and naturalist perspective!
Tam was just swinging the longer one above his head,
which Niko then used to hit against the sand as a whip (here comes another common name of this algae, bullwhip kelp).
Not surprisingly, they both had to fight for in the tug of war game after that!
These algae can actually grow even much longer and they form underwater kelp forests along Californian coast. Too bad the water was too rough and cold to snorkel and see them, but we couldn’t stay much longer at the beach anyways, as we still had to find a campground at our next stop, Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The promise to see the forest with some of tallest and oldest trees in the world was good enough stop our frolicking in the sun. It was an easy ride after that, but we hardly managed to set up our camp before darkness. By the way, it felt rewarding to have come to the park by bicycles, as the camping fee was just $5, as opposed to $35 for those who came by cars.
Here, I need to give a preamble as to how I actually ended having the idea of hiking naked in the redwoods and choosing this forest in particular. When I went to the Spring Bash with Florida Young Naturists, I got a copy of “N, the Magazine of Naturist Living”, which featured an article about hiking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park by Bill Schroer. The article said it was possible to find some secluded trails and also mentioned Cahill policy that determined that simple nudity in State Parks was not a criminal offense. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest State Park (since 1902) and home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco. So, inspired by the article and by the magnificent redwoods themselves, we were eager to explore the forest “as nature intended”. We decided to hike Skyline-to-the-Sea trail with diversion to the Berry Creek trail, following advice of Bill Schroer.
We woke up shortly after sunrise, and the sun was reaching out from behind the surrounding mountains and tall trees, it was getting warmer.
Tam found his biking shirt to have been tried and tested by a local raccoon… Aren’t they supposed to wash things, actually? And there was a spring nearby. Well, not like we were going to wear clothes that day, anyways.
In the beginning of the hike, we were welcomed by pretty tall northern giant horsetails, a ‘living fossil’ plant, but they were not nearly as tall as their long-extinct cousins and of course nothing to compare with the giant redwoods.
Redwoods, being one of the most massive and tallest trees in the world, impressed us from the very beginning of the trail. I climbed one of the stumps to embody the strength of these giants… but still looked pretty small.
Well, there’s one natural power that may be stronger than redwoods – lightning. There were quite a few that seemed to be struck by lightning and partially burnt from inside but still withstood it, but many weren’t that lucky and fell.
But even when fallen, redwoods look majestic!
Walking on a fallen redwood gives you a good perspective of their height (and a pretty way to cross a stream)…
so as sitting under or on these fallen giants makes you appreciate their huge mass.
And yet they look prettiest when they stand tall.
Looking up in the redwood forest, it seems like green canopy and blue sky are at the same height.
If you want to celebrate the tree-hugging day with redwoods, you would need more than one person to hug a big redwoods properly…
even two would be hardly enough!
Skyline-to-the-Sea trail and its branches go along springs with clear water, so you don’t need to carry much water with you (we used a filter, however)
and can refresh on the way once in a while. Looks peaceful, doesn’t it?
Until you notice this monster hiding on top of the stream!
Another ‘monster’, a giant Pacific banana slug, seemed much less menacing. Where did it get its beautiful golden color? Maybe from this spring?
We had no clue why that spring had such a color, but given that California Gold Rush times were long gone, we were doubtful we found a source of wealth…
The trail was well-maintained and even had stairs at steep inclines. By the way, we did encounter quite a few fellow hikers and we behaved like being naked was the most natural thing in the world (isn’t it?) – and it seemed to work well – we were often greeted with smiles and witty questions.
It was sad to depart from the redwoods, but we hoped we would see them again, it was a memorable first encounter with wooden giants!