“Let’s go to the Redwood Forest!” Chuck and I have said so many times in the past year. It's now managed to mold its way into a joke of ours.
The last time I went through the Redwood Forest, I was solo, and I didn’t want to stop. Mostly because I didn’t want that joke to stop either.
This time it was for reals though. The plan now was to head towards the Redwoods. We were finally going to do it.
Between leaving Crater Lake and getting towards the Redwoods, we both lost some of communication and balance with each other, and the ride was feeling a bit off. The ride is never fun when there is tension in the air.
Chuck found a trail close to the Redwoods, so he parked the van, and we both walked up to the trail head sign to get more info. We read silence, until Chuck said, “This is a trail, you can come with me, or you can stay behind, but I am going to go have some fun. It’s 2 miles to the overlook, I will be headed there.” He began to walk off slowly, camera in hand. My camera was dead, so I decided to grab the book I was almost finished with.
I admit, I was being a brat. I caught up to him half a mile in, and he was taking a few photos. I had my headphones in, trying to put myself into my own zone, and not deal with the tension.
2 miles up the trail there were a few signs. One that pointed to go onward toward the beach, and one that pointed to the overlook. I turned towards the overlook which was around the corner, and sat down on a bench; I began reading my book.
Id say an hour past and I hadn’t seen Chuck. I was done being on the edge of conflict, and probably needed to do some apologizing. I waited a few more minutes.
Where was he? Did he maybe keep going to the beach trail? I thought, No way. That was another 1.5 miles. And he wouldn’t just go ahead without telling me. Right? But, he wouldn’t go back to the van, because after all, I have the car keys right now.
I stood there, staring at both of these signs, pointed in opposite directions. I was in deep contemplation, pacing. To go back down towards the van, was 2 miles. To keep on going the beach area, was about 1.5 miles.
I decided it was best to head back down. At about at a 1 ½ miles down the trail, I saw a guy hiking inward, and I asked, “Did you happen to see a guy with a camera?” The hiker said “No, I saw a guy with a stick though.” That didn’t help, and I was kind of worried. I noticed a girl coming around the bend, assuming it must have been his lady. “Thanks” I said, as I turned back around, and started to make the climb back to the overlook. Maybe he will be at the overlook, coming back from the secluded beach area?
2 miles later I was once again, back at the overlook. Just as last time, there was nobody there but me. I started to have a slight panic. So… what do I do now?
I already had hiked 5 miles, and I guess I just had to keep going. He must have gone to the beach area. I walked past the beach sign that read "1.5 miles", with hesitation on my mind.
I was another mile further in, with no more clarity in what the hell happened to Chuck. I had no water or food that day, and all I had was a book with me, and a phone with no reception. I was beginning to feel the exhaustion.
Than that is when I panicked. I saw bear shit in the woods. BEAR SHIT! Have you ever seen bear shit? Have you ever seen bear shit, when afraid, alone, and exhausted in the woods by yourself? It’s terrifying, I promise you that.
I ran to the beach area, but remembered that it was not in my best interest to run, bears like runners. The trail was leading me down the mountain to the beach area, but all I could see was tall brush on both sides of me, around 7 feet in height.
The moment of doom hit when this tall brush ended and I was now at the middle of the beach, nothing but sand and water went in both directions, as far as you could see. Now I knew for sure, there is no way Chuck was out on this beach, roaming around somewhere further than my eye could see.
I cried like a baby on the beach. There was no help around, there were bears in the woods, and I didn’t have any water, or food to keep me going. I simply lost it.
I had a thought that popped into my head, about Chuck being eaten by a bear, and how I would be next.
At this point I had hiked 8 ½ miles, and still I had to go back. I had no water or food with me, but I still had light. The sun was only going to be around for another 3 hours. I needed to make it back before dark, because the book I was carrying couldn’t have been more useless at that moment, and my phone was dead.
I stood up, and began to find the strength to walk back into those woods, and up into that mountain. I got my big girl panties on, and went for it.
I got a mile up the steep terrain, and I just had to sit, I was so dehydrated. I was hoping the couple I saw earlier would come my way. The question was, were they going to make it to the beach area? Or were they just going to the overlook?
I wasn’t waiting long until they appeared. I was happy to see people, and happy they decided to not stop at the overlook. They didn't look so happy, they looked a bit worried, for me.
“Wait, so you didn’t find him?” the guy said, “No, I don’t know where he is still” I replied “You need water.” The girl said as she began to get out her water bottle. I said, “I don’t know where he is. I thought he might have gone to the beach, but I am so exhausted at this point. Maybe he is at the van after all?” She handed me the extra water bottle and said “Wait, there was a guy at the van, but that was well over 2 hours ago”, “A blue van by chance?” I had asked. “Definitely a blue van. The only van in the parking lot” She replied. We all kind of looked down in disappointment from that situation.
I realized my mistake. Chuck was already at the van, as I was coming down the first time. He must have had the other pair of keys. It was a relief knowing that Chuck was safe at the van, so a certain weight had been lifted off my shoulder.
I drank as much water as the couple could offer, and they gave me a bag of trail mix to keep me going. They offered their assistance in walking me back the 3 miles, but I told them I was fine. I just needed to get moving before the sun was to go down. I am not kidding when I say we all did a group hug before departing ways.
I got back to the van around 11 total miles later. I was relieved. It turns out Chuck had turned back after he realized there were no Redwoods in this forest. He was safe, hydrated, and now didn't have to think I was eaten by bears.
We then drove a bit out of town, and I was feeling so car sick, we pulled into a RV park, and took up a campsite for the night. I got water in my system, and out of a moving car, so it was really that time to make amends. I grabbed some booze from the RV store, and Chuck bought a pizza.
We laughed over this whole debacle, and now we had a new joke to tell. Wouldn’t it be fun one day to go see the Redwoods? The joke was still going strong.
The next day, we began to drive towards Santa Rosa. 15 minutes into the drive, I feel an instantaneous pull towards an exit from the passenger side. Chuck saw a sign that read. Redwood Forest, Avenue of the Giants. We were just beside ourselves.
We were going to finally get to experience the Redwoods, without turmoil between each other. Once we made up, we were surprised to find an experience and a new story to tell about the time we finally made it to the Redwoods.