Friday, June 18, 2021

California's Northern Coast: Big Elk and Mysterious Trees

After a sketchy overnight in Eureka, it was a relief to just drive away and head north. Giving up on the Clarion Hotel, my searching found just two accessible rooms in the area with roll-in showers that would accommodate the three of us available for the Days Inn in neighboring Arcata and at an Indian casino a few miles up into the hills. Both had two queen beds but, after our night on the coast, I thought the casino would be a better choice.

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I booked the reservation and then we continued on with our plans with just a change in destination for the night.

The farther north we go on highway 101, the more remote everything becomes. Trees, many of them giant coastal redwoods, crowd in making this major highway into a two lane mountain road.

Near the small town of Orick, my wife looks out the side on a curve, "Hey, look at all of those goats."

I glance over, "those aren't goats, they're elk."

I pull over and we take some time to enjoy the view of these magnificent animals. Roosevelt Elk are very common in this area and it's not too hard to find a herd.

It's back on the road to our ultimate destination. Just past the town of Klamath, we pull into a large parking lot guarded by giant fiberglass effigies of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe.

You'll be happy to know that Babe is anatomically correct.

We've arrived at the Trees of Mystery, a classic, kitschy roadside attraction designed to pull tourists off the highway and dollars out of their wallets. You know...the kind of place I just can't resist.

The attraction consists of a half-mile trail through the redwoods and some creative signs saying why the trees are weirder than normal (they're not but it's a way to learn about how these giants grow).

At the end of the trail, a gondola will take you to the top of the mountain, where you can access an observation deck and restrooms. The gondola, deck, and restrooms are all fully accessible for standard wheelchairs. Large, bariatric wheelchairs and most scooters will not fit in the gondolas.

At the end of it all, of course, is a giant sized souvenir shop to satisfy all your tochke needs.

The trail is not officially wheelchair accessible. It is flat, with no steps, but a bit steep at times. An accessible shuttle will take you upon request from the parking lot to the bottom of the gondola.

You can go on the trail with a wheelchair...we did with Tim's power chair with no problem...but you will be required to sign a waiver first (a very possible ADA violation but...).

It's a gorgeous walk up the mountain, full of shady trees and fern covered grottoes.

Trees that grow sideways, trees that kids can crawl under...

...and cathedrals of redwoods.

At the end of the trail, we get on the gondola.

The operator folds up a bench for Tim and he rolls right in.

It takes seven minutes to reach the top.

We go up and spend some time on the observation deck, taking pictures and enjoying the view.

Behind the restrooms, a more serious (and non-accessible trail) winds down the mountain. You are asked to inform the lift operator before you attempt this trail. Free walking sticks are provided, and you are warned about the areas more exotic inhabitants with big feet.

Taking the staff's advice, we ride the shuttle back down to the parking lot.

A few minutes in the gift shop and then we're heading back down the coast.  Let's see how our new room time.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Some photos courtesy of Letty Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Guess Minnesota can share Paul and Babe, legend says that is how Minnesota got it's 10,000 lakes - it's their footprints all over the state that filled with water thus the introduction of the State Bird - the Mesquito.