Last weekend, I took a little trip with two of my closest friends to go see Fern Canyon. For those of you who don’t know, Fern Canyon is this absolutely stunning little pocket of natural wonder hidden away in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and was actually the film location of Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.
Two of us had visited the canyon before, so it seemed like the ideal place to visit on a day when nothing much was going on (which, admittedly, is almost every day in a small town). The day was overcast but still warm enough to be comfortable without a coat, rather typical for this time of year. The hike is actually a loop, but the first part is the section actually in the canyon. The trail threads in, out, and often through a creek, so getting wet is unavoidable. During the summer months, they have little bridges over the deeper parts of the creek to keep you somewhat dry, but they take them away during the winter.
The trip was so much fun, and I’m so glad we decided to make the trek out. I’d been having some mental health troubles, and the trip was just what I needed to remember how to relax and smile again.
That being said, I learned a few lessons for my next trip out to the canyon. I figured somebody else might find them useful, too.
1. Four-wheel drive is your friend.
The road to Fern Canyon is unpaved, riddled with potholes to the point where there’s more holes than road, and more than once passes through a stream. While it brought back fond memories of driving to my worksite in Rosarito, scraping the bottom of the car isn’t good from a mechanic’s perspective. The car we took was built low to the ground and didn’t have four-wheel drive, and made the trip just fine (though there were a few tense moments), but if you do have access to a car built for this sort of thing, you’re gonna want to use it.
2. Waterproof everything you love.
You will get wet. You’ll try your hardest not to get wet, and then fall face-first into the stream. Then you’ll have a mini anxiety attack as you desperately search for your phone, questioning why you even brought it with you when it doesn’t even have service. Do yourself a favor and bring waterproof electronics, and only waterproof electronics. Wear shoes designed to go in water, and bring a second pair of shoes and socks to change into once you leave.
3. Don’t get cocky. Nature’s not into that.
I’ll be honest: I like exploring. Every trip we go on, I’m usually first in the group, prancing along the path, climbing half-fallen trees and exploring every splinter in the trail. And it’s usually this tendency to half-run along the trail that gets me into trouble. So while it should go without saying that you probably shouldn’t run over slippery logs half-submerged in water, if you’re anything like me, and get overexcited being in nature, maybe take a deep breath or two and save yourself from nearly spraining your ankle exactly five minutes into the hike.
4. I don’t really have a four, but I felt like I needed another point. So… I dunno, thank your friend for letting you drag him out to the middle of unpaved nowhere?
I have no idea what I'm doing.