The redwood forests seem to create their own weather. As you enter a grove, you will feel the humidity increase and the temperature drop. You will notice moss and lichens and ferns growing abundantly (see this blog's title slide). The last time I was here (it was 1969, I think) I recall a slight mist and drizzle in the air as you hiked through these grand trees, but on this visit the forest was dry.
The largest cones we found at Kidder Creek were [only] about eighteen inches long. We collected a few on our picnic table. The greener ones in the picture on the left are still tacky with pine pitch and fell during our stay. The brown ones near the top of the photo fell before our arrival and are in various stages of drying and ejecting their seeds. I placed a tube of chapstick in the center of the picture to give you an idea of scale.
With a succession of snaps, and breaking pine boughs, the Sugar Pine's cone hits the ground with a determined thud. Around it crashes all the coincident debris that it has accumulated in its downward wake. The racket is as if somebody unloaded a wheel-barrow of kindling and bricks over the side of a twenty-story building! It’s not possible to ignore the ear-jarring avalanche of branches and boughs as the cracking conglomeration is ultimately halted by solid ground.
[Ken 06/30/2018] I want to be in the group who think this park's name should be changed from "...Beds" to "...Tubes." The best part of this National Monument is what is underground, in my opinion. Yea, above-ground is a landscape full of interesting volcanic cones and a half-dozen sizable lava floes that stripe the California high desert, but what is more fascinating are the hundreds of now empty lava tubes under the surface of the earth.
The pictures below seem to illustrate well-lit catacombs. Let me assure you that all of the light we had was from two small flashlights and the flash on our cameras. In real-life, once you have moved away from places where the tubes penetrated the surface of the earth, the "caves" are as dark black as pre-historic pitch.
Located in extreme northern California, this National Monument is an out-of-the-way destination, but worth the effort. Once you have been "sanitized" by the park staff (to mitigate the spread of white-nose bat disease), most of the "caves" are self-paced and self-guided -- all you need is a sweatshirt and a good flashlight (it is very dark inside!). You may also want to bring extra batteries. The National Park Service has categorized a dozen or so of the more popular "caves" by their difficulty so you can know a little about what you would be getting into before personally undertaking the steep descent into alien darkness.
Deb and I explored "caves" rated both Easy and Most Difficult and found you could see and experience quite a lot on both without having to use any special spelunking skills. The length of the "caves" vary from a few hundred feet to more than a mile long. If adventure is your thing, we saw several open, inviting crevices where knee pads would be a good idea. If you would like to go on a guided tour, the park offers a couple options (reservations required). If you are interested in a paved and lighted path, the park offers a "cave" like that, as well. In any case, "Watch Yer Head!"