the Avenue of the Giants | Old Highway 101
We turned onto the Avenue of the Giants and I fell asleep. I wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t much going on along the side of the road. These trees weren’t that great, just your average side of the road trees and brush.
I woke up to a car door slamming. We’d stopped along the side of the road and when I looked out the window, shaking the groggy backseat sleep out of my eyes, I realized we were there: this was the real Avenue of the Giants.
Now, I know there are bigger trees out there. What is it, the General Sherman, that’s the largest living sequoia? I’m sure that one dwarfs what we were looking up at as we climbed out of the cars, but we’d never seen anything like this before.
On our way to the Avenue we stopped at Drive-Thru Tree Park where, yes, you could drive through a redwood. Sadly, we were worried our Dodge Caravan wouldn’t make it through (even though later a guy totally squeezed his through, and then got his picture taken standing on top of his car as the front stuck out of the tree) so we didn’t get to drive through. We still walked into that tree and climbed all over the others that had been cut or fallen down. There were snapshots, low angle shots, selfies, sunglass selfies, double sun-sunglass selfies, sweep panoramic shots, and super low angle shots that involved laying down and getting sap all over my back.
As cool as watching a van drive through a redwood tree is, its got nothing on the Avenue of the Giants. We like nature, my friends and I, we go outside a fair amount. No one on this trip shies away from a hike, but we’re by no means hardcore outdoorsmen. Still, we all hugged some trees. Or at least tried to.
It isn’t just trees though, which is nice. A few of us took our chances climbing down a path when we spotted water through the trees. Well, path is an exaggeration. I say path, you might say it was for runoff to the riverbed below, while Katie might say, “Don’t break your neck, you’re in Chucks!”
Maybe not optimal climbing footwear, but I made it down there in one piece. I’m not so good eyeballing distance so let’s say we were about thirty feet below the road at that point in this little river valley. The water was moving through pretty well although the riverbed was pretty exposed. Mountains bookended the valley in the distance and this unending wind gusted through. Not quite yelling but still raising our voices to hear each other over the wind, the handful of us that made it down spread out to get different views of the forest reaching up around us.
Standing on the rocks down there I realized why people go fly fishing, why they would stand out in a river all day casting back and forth. There was something about walking on the rocks of the riverbed, being at the low point of that valley with the wind racing through it after emerging from this towering forest of redwoods.
I couldn’t help but stand there, turning slowly to take it all in, a small, goofy smile on my face. It’s natural, I suppose, to have a feeling of utter insignificance when standing on a spot like that; your presence there among trees whose lifespans are measured in millennia, being so brief and unnoticeable.
Or you marvel in it. You can turn slowly and smile and breathe deep as you realize that for this small amount of time you’re walking through these giants, you are a part of something greater, that you are experiencing something of the history of the world you live in.
And like every one of us did at some point walking through the redwoods, you can stop and look up, lose yourself a little in the swaying of those tree tops hundreds of feet and thousands of years above you, and say, “Wow.”