Nomad Life: Going Home

Eureka, CA

They call it “Behind the Redwood Curtain”. I knew of that term growing up but I don’t think I fully understood it until now.  Full of cement, noise and warm beaches San Diego has been my home now for two years. Before that was Oahu, which is also crowded compared to my small hometown of Eureka, CA. After about 14 hours of driving with a few stops in between we approached the infamous Redwood Curtain. This was Sean’s first drive north on highway 101 and my first drive north in years. Together we peered upon the Redwoods with new eyes, taking in the greatness of the lush, dense trees that surrounded us. The air became crisp and cool, the road we followed became less traveled, less straight and I continued to be in awe. I turned to Sean and said, “Wow, I really grew up in the middle of nowhere.” In response Sean laughed, “Yes, yes you did.” Like it should have been obvious all along.

Humboldt County is known for a few things, marijuana, logging and fishing. I know it for only one thing, rain. According to my mom we would be arriving just in time to catch the abnormal sun and warm weather they had been enjoying. Her excitement was slightly convincing but, knowing better, I prepared Sean for the large possibility that it would rain every day. Turned out my mom and I were both partially right.

We woke up to sun and prepared for a scenic and relaxing hike for our first day. As we were just about to leave we heard the light drops of rain and realized our plans for the day would not succeed. Drops quickly turned into a full down pour and Sean and I regrouped. Leaving mom and the dogs behind we went on a drive through Eureka and outlying areas. The old buildings, Victorian mansions and farmland were picturesque behind the wall of water. The beauty and stillness of the surrounding areas brought back childhood memories and made me miss the small town feel Eureka had to offer.

When the rain let up the following day we collected our things, dogs and mom and headed for Moonstone Beach. My first introduction to rock climbing was at this beach about eight years ago and it was definitely life changing. I was excited to share the reason I never stopped climbing with Sean. We arrived to perfect weather and an empty beach. The dogs ran with grins on their faces.  Climbing the boulders and taking in the scenery all of us realized how lucky we were to be outside on the North Coast.

The storm came and went taking us up to Trinity Aretes with my friend Tom. I met him through the small local climbing community when I was a true newbie. I always enjoyed climbing with Tom because of the passion and patience he would bring to the crag. He was no different on this trip. It was like reuniting with family and, to me, this is one reason rock climbing continues to draw people in. As we made our way to the base of the cliff I realized my memory of this prehistoric-like feature did not do it justice. Necks bent back as far as they could go, Sean and I marveled in its grandness. We were psyched to be climbing here. The full day consisted of bee stings (which Sean, the dogs and I are still scratching), failed climbing attempts, visiting Paul Humphrey’s memorial plaque* and a whole lot of inspiration. By the end of the day, although confidence was not up, our spirits were. There was no better way to finish up a road trip to Eureka as the next storm began to show itself.

After re-exploring my childhood backyard, scenic walks with family and reminiscing about growing up in Eureka our first destination had come to an end. Although I had anticipated more rock climbing and visits with friends there was still a feeling of accomplishment. We had explored my roots. I looked at Eureka and the Redwood Curtain with an improved attitude and a new understanding of how growing up there molded me to be who I am today. Humboldt County is a small, well-known dot on the northwestern tip of California. People from around the world are attracted to the endless outdoor activities it provides, the mild climate, famous festivals that take place, the enormous and almost out of this world redwood trees, and the mystery that the vast land seems to provide. I now look forward to our future Northern California adventures.

For more North Coast rock climbing information please visit:

Are you in the Humboldt area and looking to climb but you can’t get outside?  Go climb at the sick bouldering gym in Arcata. I was fortunate enough to watch the owner, Matt DeShazo, build it from the ground up. It is a fantastic place to train and meet fellow climbers!

My favorite refueling stop on the way out of town is Wildberries Marketplace. They have everything you need including a café, juice station and salad bar.

Want an easy, family friendly, scenic hike? The Hammond Trail is just that.

Looking for an awesome reggae festival? Check out the famous Reggae on the River. I can’t imagine a better place to be for amazing music and chill people.

Breweries are not difficult to find in the redwoods. There are about five in the area but the one I always go back to is Lost Coast Brewery. Famous for its Great White and Downtown Brown beers it’s the perfect place to end a great day of activity or meet with friends.

*Paul Humphrey aka “Disaster Master” was a huge part of the North Coast climbing scene and development during his life. The climbing community lost this motivated, inspirational, wild and sweet man to cancer August 30th 2011. Tom assisted in putting up a plaque in honor of Paul at the top of his route “Visions of Impalement”. Here are a couple of blogs about his life and battle.

Please e-mail me with any questions you might have!

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