Posted by: kerryl29 | October 23, 2017

California Day 13: Discovery of the Mother Lode

Day 13 was the final full day I would spend on this two-week photo journey to California.  I would have one more morning, but the bulk of Day 14 would be spent making the long drive back to the Bay Area in preparation for the following day’s flight back to Chicago.  There was a possibility of fog on this morning but it never materialized, though this was still the strongest single-day impact of the marine layer that I’d seen on this trip.  It was present at first light and, along the coast line, remained there all day long.  This meant even light in the redwood groves, so I spent much of the morning–until the breeze picked up–at Del Norte Redwoods State Park, in my usual haunts along the Damnation Creek and Coastal Trails.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I spent most, but not all, of my time in search of clusters of rhododendron, more specimens of which were popping up with each passing day.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

As usual, the ground cover in the lush understory captured my attention.

Coastal Trail Intimate, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Sorrel and Ferns Black & White, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I made another pass through the rhododendron growth late in the morning, with the focus primarily on long lens captures.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

When I left the grove, I thought I was probably done on this stretch of forest, barring another round of atmospheric fog.  I felt as though I’d shot everything I could at this stage and, truth be told, I was a tiny bit disappointed.  Oh, sure, I’d seen far more rhododendron blooms on this trip than I had during my time in the area two years previous, but I hadn’t quite come across the massive unfurling of blooms that I had envisioned.

I decided to take a ride south, to seek out the Klamath River Overlook in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  It took about 45 minutes to make the drive and it was early afternoon when I arrived.  From the parking area, there’s a trail that leads down the slope to a raised platform of an overlook above the water and I decided, in lieu of anything better to do, to make the hike.  It ended up being on an essentially unmaintained trail that looped through towering stands of wild grasses and other plants the entire way, but I persevered and reached the platform, which I had entirely to myself.

Klamath River Overlook Black & White, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I could see the occasional sea lion swimming in the waters below.  There was also an offshore rock that served as a perch for brown pelicans and cormorants.

Brown Pelicans and Cormorants, Klamath River Overlook, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

But my main interest was the rocky coastline.

Rocky Shoreline Black & White, Klamath River Overlook, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I took a tour of the Klamath Beach Road after I returned to the parking area.  Some of the overlooks might have been interesting had the conditions been different, but given the sullen, featureless skies I didn’t find them appealing enough to photograph.  I was, however, interested in some of the mossy trees I found on the forested interior of the road.

 

Moss-Covered Trees, Klamath Beach Road, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I drove back toward Crescent City and gradually made my way toward Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, just east of town, but the park is several miles off the coast and up on a hill and as I approached the northern park entrance on Howland Hill Road I emerged from the marine layer into bright sunshine, the product of a cloudless sky.  Just a few miles to the west it was completely overcast; here, bluebird skies prevailed.  So much for photographing in the park.

Somewhat reluctantly, I made my back toward Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  After another brief walk along the Damnation Creek Trail–where, unsurprisingly, things looked exactly as they had when I’d been there just hours earlier–I got in the car with the intention of heading back toward Crescent City.  There would be no sunset along the coast this day, given the omnipresence of the marine layer.  I planned to call it a day.  I pulled onto the Redwood Highway and made my way about a half-mile north when I caught a glimpse of something to my left, alongside a lengthy stretch of shoulder.  With no traffic present, I crossed the road and parked on the long, wide shoulder.  And then I saw what had caught my eye–the thickest, broadest spread of rhododendron blooms I’d seen to date…by miles.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The access here, without even having to leave the paved shoulder, was so good that I spent the next hour-plus–until it was dark–photographing along this stretch of roadside.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The compositional options here were nearly limitless.  I went wide; I went tight.  I included foreground elements; I omitted them.  Vertical; horizontal.  I placed emphasis on the rhododendrons; I used them as complementary elements.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

During the time that I was there, a number of passing motorists noticed me along the roadside, stopped themselves, invariably saw what had captured my attention and hastened to photograph the scene themselves.  There was plenty of room here, so no one got in anyone’s way.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

In the encroaching darkness I packed up my gear with a feeling of satisfaction; I’d finally found a truly thick stand of accessible rhododendron, with a very nice backdrop of redwoods trunks.  The only thing missing was fog.  But I had one more morning and hoped that this one would include the atmospherics…


Responses

  1. I’m so glad you got the big spread of rhododendrons you were seeking. The images are lovely and worth the time to really explore the variety of compositions.

    • Thanks, Ellen!

  2. The mother lode indeed! And you captured it so beautifully. I’m happy to see you found the opportunity.

    • Thanks, Gunta!

  3. Beautiful photos. How did your trip here to CO go?

    • Thanks!

      Short answer to the CO trip question is, it went pretty well. I’ll fill in the blanks when I start blogging on the trip in the coming weeks.

  4. Isn’t that just the way it happens. We search and search, and then, at the end, what we’re searching for comes to us. You captured it all beautifully, and I’m so happy that you found these at the end for your delight as well as ours.

    • Thanks very much!

      There’s still one more post from this trip to come.

  5. […] last day of my trip to California this past spring, it was pretty close.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I discovered the proverbial mother lode of rhododendron blossoms in Del Norte Redwoods State Park, […]

  6. Those rhododendrons and Redwoods are beautiful!


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