Monday, July 19, 2010

Buzzard's Roost: Big Basin Redwoods SP

The Buzzards Roost

The hike up to Buzzards Roost is a pleasant 5.2 mile out and back hike that covers redwood forests, crosses beautiful bubbling creeks and ends in the desolate sand hill terrain near the rocky top. From the summit the effort of 1,100 feet of climbing is rewarded with dazling views of expansive redwood forests, mountain tops, and extends all the way out to the sea. The trail is quite cool and shady near the bottom but becomes quite hot and exposed near the top.

Beylah in the redwoods near the trailhead

The trail begins at Park HQ. Follow the Redwood Trail for only a few hundred feet before crossing Opal Creek at a bridge. Just after the bridge make a left on the skyline-to-the-sea trail and hike deeper into the redwoods while following Opal Creek. The redwood forest in this area is especially dense and remarkably dry for the area. At the next trail junction, about a quarter mile along veer off skyline-to-the sea and on to the East Ridge Trail continuing to follow Opal Creek. This short stretch probably is less popular than other redwood trails and has a more intimate and peaceful feel especially with the constant sound of rushing water from nearby Opal Creek.

Towering Redwoods near Opal Creek

The East Ridge Trail crosses Opal Creek again over a heavy duty bridge and eventually Bloom Creek across a quaint wood bridge before meeting the Pine Mountain Trail. Make a right on to the Pine Mountain Trail. The trail suddenly begins climbing steeply wasting no time getting up the mountain. Beautiful groves of redwoods line the trail for the next two miles, they are not the towering giants found in the valleys near rivers and creeks though.

Trail snaking through redwood stands on the Pine Mountain Trail.

After crossing Pine Mountain Road (don't turn off on to this) the scenery begins to slowly change over from redwoods to a dry Sierra'esque pine forest. The exposure to the sun begins to get cranked up around this area and on a hot day could be pretty toasty. Carrying sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat or sun screen are mandatory if the sun is out. Beylah and I were somewhat dismayed to hear two large groups crashing through the forest, not lost but hiking well off the trails. One group passed us even was even carrying speakers to play music, a compulsion I still just can not grasp.

The trail switches back and forth a few times and in the last mile or so it is obvious the top is near. Rocky Outcroppings block the trail at points making some easy scrambling (think Pinnacles National Monument in terms of difficulty) necessary to negotiate the trail. These sorts of obstacles are always welcome to me as they make the hike far more memorable. The trees become very short, and sweeping views of the mountains and redwood valleys enter into the mix.

Beylah navigating some rough terrain.

Finally the trail forks, a use trail leads to the tree covered summit of pine mountain and the main trail wraps around leading to a steep rocky section. At the top of the rocky slope sits the visually striking rock spire which marks the Buzzard's Roost. After taking a couple minutes or so to carefully climb the last hundred feet Beylah and I unpacked our lunches on the windy summit. A fellow hiker remarked how glad he was there were no bugs around thanks the wind.

Clouds passing over the rocky summit.

Flowers in bloom mean bee's are busy pollinating.

After lunch we descended back down the way we came through the pine forest and then into the redwoods again. Though we got through all the tough sections with tricky footwork just fine, on an open stretch of trail back in the thick redwoods near the bottom Beylah twisted her ankle on an exposed root. We sat for a few minutes and let her nurse the ankle before popping some Advil and carefully heading down. Fortunately Beylah was able to keep walking down on her own. Near the bottom we stopped briefly at Blooms Creek choosing to check out the campground there on the way back to the car.

Blooms Creek

I went off to chase a photo and followed a use trail down to the waters edge. While navigating some slick rocks both of my feet gave out under me. Almost in slow motion I grabbed my camera in one hand to protect it from damage while trying to gain control of my slip. I ended up thigh deep in Blooms Creek, water pouring over the top of my boots and soaking my socks. Just as quickly as I fell in, I scrambled my way back out. Shortly thereafter I gave up on photographing the creek and just focused on getting my soaking feet back to the car. Squishing sounds made every step a disgusting proposition. Roughly half a mile later though we made it back, more or less in one piece.

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