Welcome to the confluence of the middle and south fork Smith River
I’m into my second week at the Smith River. First impressions have always been a reliable litmus test for me. Results are in: this area is teeming with amazing things to do outside, but when the rains come, I’ll have to dig deep for self entertainment or face up to getting wet.
It is a land of dichotomies:giant trees/clear cuts; one of the healthiest salmon rivers in CA/ tanking fishing fleet; a few buzzing shops surrounded by a cemetery of abandoned buildings. Then of course there’s the reliable rural republican and tree hugger relationship. Nothing too unfamiliar, but enough nuances to keep it interesting. People here stoutly defend their love for the place but admit that it has some tough spots.
Patty and Grant, the heart and soul of the Smith River Alliance and my new work team, make it easy for me to look past the tough spots and live for the fabulous. (By the way, the color of the water here REALLY is phenomenal!)
I spent the 4th of July with them on the Smith River. We put in from their riverside back yard and floated almost to my riverside back yard. Along the way I got lessons in rolling in the hard shell river kayak in which they outfitted me. I’ll need to work on that one. We also stopped to walk through the Stout Grove of old growth redwoods. Check out this site to read more about that fabulous spot:
Redwood Hikes guide to old growth coast redwood trails
We ID’ed by call Western Tanangers, Blackheaded Grossbeaks, and also saw this little lovely river side orchid:
You get bonus points if you can ID it.
After an afternoon of paddling we attended a potluck feast of my favorite kind: people who create wonderful food from scratch with many of the ingredients coming from their own gardens, the sea, and even intertidal algae! Yes, this is a stronghold region for salmon, and environmentalists. I met most of them at this dinner and was greeted warmly.
On to the fireworks put on by Crescent City. This show blew me away, because not only was it a great municipal show, but the locals celebrating on the beaches and cliffs with their own bonfires had a show of their own to put on too. Now I know where all the fireworks sold at the (at least) 4 firework stands went. Clear skies allowed people for miles to see the explosions and the traffic we hit going home proved that people from all over the region, especially southern Oregon, came to see what this sleepy little town had to offer. (Because traffic just doesn’t happen up here)
The river is warming up every day and so is the air. Afternoon swims in my own back yard swimming hole are filling my down time and recharging my batteries.
Today I joined a couple of teenage girls from the house across the river (shown in picture) in swimming down the riffles just out of view on the left of this photo. Like salmon, they kept coming back up stream and doing it over and over, laughing louder each time.
There are so many great swimming holes. It is one of my summer missions to find the select best.
Does anyone want to come with me?
But, it’s not all just about the river and the trees. There’s a stretch of beach long enough to need a daypack to walk it all, and it serves up one of the only nearby surfing options. The waves aren’t fabulous, but I can guarantee you’re not going to get hassled in the line up, if there is a line up.
And if you just want to dink around in tidepools and look for pretty shells and rocks there’s the north side of town:
Off for more exploring. There are yet miles of trails and hidden groves and who knows what else to explore out there.
Nice! We both spent our July 4th weekends on rivers – your was clearly a lot less crowded and chaotic that the ol’ south fork of the American… I did get to raft the North Fork this time, though – fabulous! But I can’t wait to check out those swimmin’ holes of yours!