How is everything in Northern California so cool? Really, every new place I visit turns out to be absolutely amazing. It's an awesome streak indeed, and I have every reason to think it'll just keep going.
This past Sunday, Paul and I visited Fern Canyon in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Even after getting to the park, it took a long drive down a tiny winding dirt road (and through some streams that were worryingly deep for my little car) before we arrived at the trailhead for the canyon. It was worth it:
Oh boy, was it ever worth it:
Yes, that's a footbridge in the bottom right of the above picture. Here's another picture with Paul for scale:
I mean, seriously, what is this place? We wandered along the gurgling stream and scrambled over giant fallen tree trunks that have been so worn by weather and peoples' feet that they felt like stone. All while vertical walls of ferns towered on either side:
Most of the ferns were these gorgeously dainty Five-finger (or Western Maidenhair) Ferns (Adiantum aleuticum):
Thick carpets of moss covered the walls where little waterfalls trickled down (looking very cool from below):
What look to be some rather large liverworts were growing among the moss in some spots:
Here's one more picture looking up at that waterfall, because I just love how these ferns look from below:
Birds flitted around -- mostly at the top of the canyon -- but we came across very few other creatures while we wandered and marveled at our surroundings. Except for a few of these big yellow monsters... Banana Slugs!
And we met several cool creatures on our way to and from Fern Canyon. Just before we crossed into the park, we saw my second (Paul's first) herd of Roosevelt Elk, looking majestic and peaceful in a meadow right along the highway:
(The elk in the middle left actually looks pretty skinny; I hope she's OK.)
A few stocky babies were hanging out in this herd. I love those faint spots and that extra-fuzzy neck:
One fawn took the time for some very vigorous feeding (Mom seemed unfazed at the punching-bag treatment):
Then, coming out of Fern Canyon and walking briefly onto the neighboring beach (because of course amazing woods and beaches are right next to each other here), we found some smaller creatures to admire, including this (probably) Mylitta Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes mylitta):
A brilliant red (I think) Cardinal Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum illotum) patrolled near a small stream:
This intricately patterned moth (unknown species) was remarkably well hidden in the vanishing shade of a tiny piece of driftwood:
I still have so many new places I want to visit, and old places I want to visit again. I guess I'll just have to get outside as much as I can!