Tuesday, October 07, 2014

mud flats, wharfs, trains, and trees

  a lot of mud

the tide level in arcata bay, which is open to the ocean, varies from about zero to about +7 feet. this picture was taken 10/1/14 at about 3 pm when the tide was about +4 feet. it is a far view to any actual water. i haven’t set foot in the mud here but i have tried the mud in the southern end of humboldt bay looking for clams. it is very slimy sticky, very black, and one sinks almost to the knees in it. we quickly gave up the clam quest.
 those little black dots out there are the remains of the arcata wharf pilings
click and enlarge to see them

 same view at high tide

early settlers built a wharf 2 miles long in 1855 to get to deep water from arcata so as to unload supplies arriving by ship and ship out gold and lumber. the wharf was later extended another 600 yards to get to deeper water. a line of the stumps of pilings is all that remains of the wharf. the arrival of the railroad to humboldt county and the development of a deep water harbor in eureka made the wharf obsolete.

arcata wharf long ago

the railroad doesn't run here anymore because a mountain collapsed on the tracks somewhere between willits and humboldt county and the line was closed in 1998. our merchandise arrives by truck now and there is a narrow place on hiway 101 through richardson grove of redwoods and the biggest trucks can't negotiate the tight turns. so there is commercial pressure to remove some old growth redwood trees to widen the road. if the trees are lucky the state will run low on funds to widen the hiway.

this picture hardly captures the feeling of being among those old growth redwood trees. we did see single trailer semis going through here. they looked big enough.

bonus pic!! tree huggers! this is how we save big trees in humboldt county.
(naked photo borrowed from the internet)


  1. For those of us who have spent time in Humboldt County, your photos do evoke the feeling of being there. Thanks so much, roger!

    It's true, though, that the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean need to be seen in person in order to truly feel the presence that they have.

    It occurs to me that the redwood trees are so much more vulnerable than the people hugging them. The trees are defenseless. Yay to the people for defending the trees with their vulnerable bodies!

  2. Thanks for the tour Roger! I couldn't pick you out in the last photo.

  3. I loved this post. Here's hoping the trees survive.

  4. It's so satisfying to see you back in your native habitat. I had no idea there were such mud flats up there. Love all the photos, especially the old wharf and the old naked people. They are priceless.

  5. I've driven through that narrow stretch of 101. I hope to see your bare bottoms out there if the state tries anything untoward!

  6. am... yes the trees are quite precious. they take a while to get that big.

    dave... third from the left

    nc.... there is considerable resistance to the plan to widen the road.

    tara.. lotsa mud. lotsa nakedness.

    scott... we're on it.

  7. A two-mile-long wharf sounds (and looks) awesome. Too bad they didn't preserve it.

    I've always wanted to visit Arcata, naked treehuggers notwithstanding. I hope you have a spare couch for unannounced guests. :)

  8. Dave-- We wish that wharf were still here. It would be so interesting to walk out that far into the bay. If you do make it to Arcata, let us know. It's a very cool little town, naked treehuggers and all!

  9. great post. the first time we drove through there I was totally speechless in the presence of the huge redwoods. I kept opening the windows wider as if that would give me a more expansive view! i recall the sense of being lost among these huge trees and how narrow the road did feel under the canopy and "squeezed in " between the huge trunks. i cannot imagine the trees being cut so i hope the plan never comes to fruition. love seeing the "naked picture" and glad there these people are there! feels like a step back into the 60s!

  10. Hard to imagine a wharf that long. Amazing.
    Also amazing are those redwoods. I hope they are spared and am sure all those naked bums got the point across.

  11. Sky-- When we are driving through these redwoods, it feels like a sanctuary, a holy place, a hushed corridor of awesome beauty. It would be outrageous to cut these down for a few long trucks. We've seen big trailers on the road here, and really the winding part is less than a mile. Yes, one of the things we love about being here is that it feels like the most alive connected era of our times, the 60s!

    Arkansas Patti-- I wish that wharf were still here. It would be so cool to walk out that far. Naked bums! I love that!

    kathy a-- It truly is.

  12. I like this post. It's interesting to see how things were before all the modern conveniences, like freight trucks. That long, long wharf really would be neat to see. I also loved the redwoods. I saw some back in the 1970's when I lived at Lake Tahoe, and I would love to go back. Maybe Leah and I can make that trip some day. I hope the trees are still there. Maybe there'll be bums there, too.

  13. Mark-- It's interesting being "behind the redwood curtain" here. It's a long drive north from San Francisco (275 miles). People really have to want to get here to make this journey. I hope you and Leah do take the trip out here. I'm sure the trees and the bums will be here!

  14. John Muir would have approved those tree huggers, I bet.

  15. Beautiful place I must say with lots of history. Untill you showed the tree huggers I did not realse how bit the trees were.

  16. isabelita-- I like about John Muir and the naked tree huggers. I bet he would have approved, and maybe even joined them.

    Bill-- The coastal redwoods are probably the tallest trees. There is a species of giant sequoias that have an even bigger girth and weight, but are not as tall. They are the biggest trees in the world. They are in the high Sierra mountains here in California. We love our redwoods!