The Siskiyou Mountains stretch from southwestern Oregon into northwestern California, separating the watershed of the Rogue River (to their north) from that of the Klamath River (to their south). This morning, we drove northwest from Medford, Oregon, descending through the Rogue River Valley; after crossing the Rogue at Grants Pass, we headed southwest on Route 199, climbing back through its watershed along the Applegate and Illinois Rivers, two of its major tributaries. Passing through the Collier Tunnel, we left the Rogue River watershed and entered that of the Smith River, which drains the southwestern end of the Siskiyous.
Descending along the Middle Fork of the Smith River, we stopped at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and explored the Stout Grove, one of the more pristine and scenic stands of redwood forest in California; walking among those giants, their shade supporting a rich understory of ferns, one is both inspired and humbled. Moving on to Crescent City, we observed massive seabird colonies (mostly common murres) on Castle Rock and visited Point St. George where we encountered ospreys, black oystercatchers, whimbrels, black scoters, brown pelicans and a host of shorebirds; the highlight was provided by a peregrine falcon that swooped down at close range to snare an unwary sandpiper.
Heading south on Highway 101, we encountered herds of Roosevelt elk, drove through more stands of majestic redwoods and stopped at numerous overlooks to scan the ocean for whales, sea birds and sea lions. While we failed to observe whales on this cool, foggy day, we did find a large colony of noisy pinnipeds, crowding a sea stack near Trinidad. Tomorrow we continue our journey down the California coast.