Saturday, May 8, 2021

Day 8: Wild and Scenic: the Smith River


If there is a paradise, I hope it looks a lot like the Smith River area of Northern California… green and wild. The Smith, the only undammed river in California, is home to Chinook salmon, Steelhead and friendly people. Finally, I found a rhythm that let me truly savor this day.

My day began early on the coast in Crescent City. By mid-afternoon, I had progressed 35 miles. A CalTrans guy mowing weeds with a weed-wacker talked about fears for the coming fire season and recommended a river road which sported a covered bridge and a tiny but charming waterfall. He mentioned Gasquet (locals say GASkey) and there I met a man who told me how to find Stoney Creek Trail, a short hike dotted with rhododendrons, sweet peas, and irises. 

Tiny waterfall with tiny flowers

A short video of the waterfall

One of my goals for the day was to find Darlingtonia Trail to see the pitcher plants. My GPS led me astray, but fortunately, more CalTrans guys helped me find it. These bog-loving plants have adapted to the serpentine soil and its lack of nutrients by foraging on insects. The fun find was an odd plant that turned out to be bear grass. Fortunately no bear. 

When I finally decided it was time to be on my way, I plotted a course for Happy Camp … seemed like a nice place to spend the night even if it did require a jaunt into Oregon. I love Oregon, my birth state, however there are parts of it that remind me of Deliverance. I was in that part of it when I got lost and GPS wasn’t helping. Fortunately a pretty young blond in a pickup truck told me that the road I was looking for was closed due to last year’s fires and that what I thought would be a 45 minute trip was going to take three hours. Plan changed ... decided to stay in Yreka.

The day ended on a beautiful note as I was coming down I-5 and saw this view of Mount Shasta. 



  1. Thanks for sharing your exploration. What a beautiful adventure. Topped with Mount Shasta? It doesn't get much better than that.

  2. Becky ... thanks for coming along on the journey. The song that is now playing through my head ... "What's it all about, Alfie?"