Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hike No. 15 - Zen-Walking in Russian Gulch State Park

May 24, 2012
6.5 Miles

Our mix of sunny and gray days here on the Mendocino Coast delivered an overcast one this morning, perfect for photography in the woods, and a re-visit to the lovely waterfall in Russian Gulch State Park. This park is one of the little jewels near the town of Mendocino, and extends inland from a narrow beach in a deep cove bordered by cliffs and a sea stack with a wave-cut cave. Headland trails lead to a giant collapsed blow hole, and vistas of waves surging against cliffs and rocks. But today my trek took my up the trail along a creek into the redwood forest. I was carrying my hiking outfit - a Lumix GH2 with 14-45mm and 45-200mm lenses and a light tripod. New in my pack was a 20mm f1.7 Lumix lens. It is referred to as a "pancake" lens for its squat profile, but to me it's more of an Oreo lens. Whatever, it is nearly weightless and sizeless, so a nice addition to my hiking setup. Especially useful this day because of the dim light in the woods under overcast skies. 

The goal of the outing was to re-photograph the falls, which tumbles about 40 feet alongside a redwood log deposited there by a flood long ago. Spray nurtures a vigorous growth of ferns on the old log, and provided me with a fine photo way back in the film days a few decades ago.

My new little "Oreo" lens was a great help in gathering the dim light, and the large aperture also enabled the use of shallow depth of field. An added benefit of the lens is its close-focus ability. The images were processed in Lightroom 4, with occasional help from Nik Color Efex 4 to enhance - or reduce - detail in keeping with my interpretation of the lovely woods.

Lovely in the sense of a Japanese garden, with carefully placed mossy stones, and just the right amount of water cascading into pools to create the perfect effect. These woods were completely logged over, of course, in the 1800's. I can only imagine these canyons prior to the loss of the huge trees, and devastation resulting from dragging them down to the cove. The trail passes huge stumps, notched for the stout boards the loggers used to climb up to the 10 to 20-foot height above the ground where they perched with the huge 2-man saws to fell the trees. Vintage photographs show proud-looking men posing on these rickety scaffolds, but one imagines that some must have had a twinge of remorse for the destruction of the lovely glades and ponds, not to mention the magnificent 1,000-year-old trees.

Redwood Sorrel


Zen Garden

Buggy iris

No redwood hike is complete without an encounter with a banana slug, here having its lunch


Five-Fingered ferns