Big Basin

Monday, September 22, 1997

I awoke in the middle of the night to find it nearly freezing in the tent. In an effort to limit our luggage size, we had only brought one sleeping bag for the trip, which served as our mattress. We brought along a heavy quilt for our cover, but we didn't realize until after we were there that the quilt only covered about one and a half of us. It was cold, but not nearly as bad as an April camping trip we had once made in southeast Ohio. So I eventually managed to fall back to sleep.

It wasn't much warmer when we got up later that morning. The sun was shining but the huge redwoods blocked out most of the light and warmth. It was great to be in a nice forested campsite. The scratchy calls of a dozen or so Steller's Jays livened up the otherwise quiet campground. I was excited to see these birds, since you can't find them in Ohio. I figured that if I couldn't find a jay during our hikes, I would surely be able to get one at the campsite. I dug the cooler out of the trunk where I had diligently stored it to keep the bears away (I found out later that bears haven't been in Big Basin for something like fifty years).

Our first stop was the showers, where we discovered that they were not free like they are back in Ohio. Since we don't usually carry a roll of quarters around, one of the luxuries of our post-college days, we had to wait for the park office to open. We drove over to the office and waited, and eventually came back stocked with firewood, matches, and enough quarters for a couple showers.

Big Basin is California's first state park, and it's big and beautiful, but after the travelling and excitement of the past couple days, we were pretty content to take it easy here. We wanted to get to know the area a little, of course, so we did walk a couple trails. So we began with the Redwood Trail, a nice flat walk that wandered through a stand of giant Redwood trees. Each tree had a sign telling us about the particulars of each tree.

After lunch we started on the huge Skyline-to-the-Sea trail, which would take you across most of the park if you walked it all. We didn't have the time or energy for this, so we walked only a few miles of it. The trail goes past the site where one of the first area settlers had built an entire cabin for his family out of one Redwood tree. Today there's nothing left of the Maddock cabin, but a sign lets you know you're in the right place. It was definitely a densely wooded area, and I wondered if these people ever saw any sunlight. Every once in a while you could see it streaming through, but most of the time you were in the shade. By noon though, the cumulative effect of the sunlight had taken its toll and it was now hot to be hiking in jeans and flannel shirts.

It was a lazy day, not typical of our normal Mondays, so it felt great to get back to the campsite and just lay around for the warm afternoon.

Three meals of peanut butter and jelly and we were ready for a hot meal. I wasn't sure if that was possible, but we looked at our map and found we weren't far from a little town called Boulder Creek. We had no idea what we'd find there, but we were hungry, so we hopped in the car and headed down the mountain a ways. We found a nice place called the Boulder Creek Brewery and Cafe. It was virtually empty inside as it was only 6 o'clock and a bit early for the dinner crowd. I experienced a small bit of culture shock when I saw Monday Night Football playing on the big screen TV. I still wasn't completely used to the time change. We feasted on hearty meals of chicken and pork barbecue and drank some pretty good local beer. Our waitress informed us that the previous night had been the coldest in a long time. Just our luck to be in a tent at the time. Fortunately, the night ahead wasn't supposed to be as cold.

Pleasantly stuffed, we drove back up the mountain to our campsite for a nice campfire before sacking out.

Click next to continue. Or go to the index.

Last Updated: June 4, 1998