Copyright 2010 - 2017 by Mario Vaden
For a time it was my hope to look for New Hope redwood which some of you may have read about in The Wild Trees. This search was different at the time because the proximity was already supplied by M. Taylor while landmarktrees.net was still functional. Thankfully, a friend from Germany came to the redwood coast and was more than willing to explore near Clarks Creek. Getting together on his vacations has almost become a tradition for us, most recently in 2014 overlapping some new discoveries. But Thomas never posts photos online, so most people never know where he's been to or returned, including our visit to Helios in RNP
October 2010. we set out to find New Hope in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park with two compass and Garmin GPS. Our purpose was also exploring new areas among the redwood forest. Clarks Creek watershed was not fully explored and we realized potential for new discoveries. Due to certain things we found more recently, I removed the map from this page marking our path in 2010. The map did not show where we went in 2014, but it's better that others go up there from scratch without knowing where we've been, or haven't been. Continue reading following image ...
Image: Thomas looks toward a grove where New Hope should soar above all others
2010 became one of the most unique redwood explorations. I've been to a lot of places in Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith and no other valley or grove felt like being in this area between Highway 199 and New Hope redwood.
We started with breakfast about 7:30 am at the Fisherman's restaurant across from the Curly Redwood Lodge in Crescent City. Scrambled eggs for Thomas - omelette and biscuits & gravy for me. By 8:30 am we entered Jedediah Smith redwoods along highway 199. Similar to the Day of Discovery described by author Preston, we parked near Clarks Creek where it meets Hy. 199. From beginning to end, I got disoriented more often on this bushwhack than any other, even with the GPS operating. The readings were dancing all over the place, but eventually zeroed-in. We agreed that without GPS or compass, there may be no coming out of there for a long time. I literally paused every 5 minutes on our way out to check our direction.
There were groves of huckleberry more extensive than I've ever seen. As rugged as bushwhacking became, I remember commenting that only God could make something so beautiful like this. Eventually, about half way into the day we found New Hope. The top reaching into a mist, remnants of subsiding morning rain. It stood 108.65 meters or 356.65 feet tall, with a trunk almost 16 feet wide. But that's not all we found nor all we explored for. On our way out, we took an entirely different route, doubling the territory covered.
One of the most interesting redwoods was 68 feet circumference / 21.6 feet diameter which we named Caveman. This redwood has about 10 to 12 feet difference in grade between the upslope and downslope. On the low side, we discovered a huge cave under the trunk with about 150 sq. ft. floorspace and 2 tiny windows for daylight. The photo shows part. But you can also see the page for Caveman redwood with larger photos.
Considering that the basic location of New Hope was described by Richard Preston in the book, it's surprising that virtually nobody ever searches this part of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for New Hope or anything else we have found.
Considering new discoveries that's good news and we expect this trend or lack thereof to continue. There's probably several reasons this area remains desolate of seekers for 10 years straight. The parking is minimal, but that's not too difficult to contend with. But the watershed is huge, with no roads or trails. In a chapter Day of Discovery, author Preston spoke of "virtually impassable thickets" of huckleberry in Jedediah Smith. I don't think Preston ever went up to New Hope, but the thickets in this watershed most closely resemble that. And that chapter probably made up a lot of minds about skipping this place. The way the story unfolds, the excursion experienced by Sillett & Taylor sounds intimidating. I think fear and uncertainty is what keeps the people out, and keeps the mysteries hidden.
We went into this exploration ready to handle whatever was encountered, because we had heard some interesting descriptions about a few inpenetrable areas. It was probably the most labor-intensive 2 miles I remember exploring in the redwoods, particularly the end of the day. But we both came out smiling. We expect most people will give up the first attempt and several redwoods are totally obscured behind incredibly thick tangles of huckleberry stems.
The south end of this park is basically where Sillett and Taylor entered Jedediah Smith redwoods, May 1998. The same day they discovered the Grove of Titans: Lost Monarch, Screaming Titans, Del Norte Titan, El Viejo del Norte and a few others like Neptune.
Finally, Thomas and I capped-off our day with Fish & Chips at the Chart Room in Crescent City. A few street machines still remained in town after the Sea Cruise auto show, and the atmosphere in the city was still lively. It was a nice evening to recap all the fun and adventure, over a couple of brews.