Fern Canyon

Ferns grown on the canyon wall beside a stream in Fern Canyon

I’ve seen ferns growing on canyon walls before but never where they are about the only thing on the vertical walls as in the aptly named Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Visiting the canyon had been on my list of places to visit in the redwoods, but so had many others, but it was a friend’s insistence that I go that made it a focus on this visit in June 2016. You can drive in but I hiked the James Irvine Trail from the Visitor Center down to the Fern Canyon Loop Trail.

It’s a mesmerizing place to visit, thousands of green hands waving gently in the wind, and I took some video with the old camera but hoped to return this spring with the new and better one. The road into the canyon was closed however so I decided to wait until the fall. I want to get there early in the morning so I can get some video without so many people around, the voices of people shouting was hard to avoid on my last visit, even when I couldn’t see anyone from where I was standing. It’s such a lovely and peaceful place — at least it is when the stream level is low like it was here, I can only imagine what it’s like when the water is high.

Fallen Giant

A fallen redwood runs along the shore of Prairie Creek

When I walk in a redwood forest I’m struck not just by the giants themselves but how much they impact the world around them. The canopy of living redwoods can block the light needed by smaller plants below them, dictating what can grow on the forest floor. A fallen giant like this redwood along Prairie Creek creates space for those plants to grow but can block the movement of ground creatures if it falls across their trails, or even block the flow of water, but also provides a base for other redwoods to grow. Everything here learns to live in the shadow of the giants, upright or fallen.

Layers of Green

Several layers of ferns in a redwood forest

I finally had the chance to visit Fern Canyon on this trip to the redwoods, but this picture of layer upon layer of ferns comes from a different part of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a footbridge on the Prairie Creek Trail. I have a little group of ferns in our yard that I call “Redwood Corner” to remind me of hiking in ancient forests like this one.

Where’s Boolie 2009

Rick Cameron hides inside a large redwood tree in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park

This year’s version of Where’s Boolie comes courtesy of a large redwood tree in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. This was my first morning in the park and the tree sits right off the Prairie Creek Trail with a cavity in the middle suitable for housing an entire bigfoot family.

I had to smile when I heard a distant hooting that morning, probably an unfamiliar owl or other bird, but it also reminded me of the supposed bigfoot calls from I show I watched a while back. I hoped with camera in hand to get some nice high-resolution, in focus, non-shaky bigfoot pictures but it was not to be. It would have been the perfect time to prove my theory on the true nature of bigfoot.

It is not a popular theory and has put me on the fringe of the lunatic fringe. I believe that they are not some form of ape running undiscovered in our forests — I mean seriously — but that they are in fact Wookiees.

My critics are quick to point out that Star Wars is fictional. I know it’s fictional — I’m not an idiot. I just don’t understand how it’s relevant. To Kill a Mockingbird is fictional. Are mockingbirds fictional too?