North of Arcata: Sumêg Village and Fern Canyon


The past couple of days were beautiful, with some rain and some sun. We set out from Michael’s place in late afternoon on the 30th, after a day of rain, and the views on the road out of town glistened. After dark, the roads turned very twisty and turny, but with some good tunes on the stereo, it was an enjoyable 4-5 hour trek westward.

The next morning we ventured out to a place Michael had wanted to show me: Patrick’s Point/Sumêg Village. The signage had just been updated within the past month or so, to better reflect/respect the native people’s heritage in the place. Sumêg Village is a recreation of what a typical Yurok village would have looked like, before colonization. (Michael also told me something I hadn’t known, but which seems obvious in hindsight: Christopher Columbus’ name in the Spanish language was Cristóbal Colón. Thus, the word “colonization” comes directly from his name.)

There were a variety of structures in this village, including houses (with those round openings—see pic—to keep in heat and keep out large animals such as bears) and a sweat lodge and a sort of amphitheater area. Dugout canoes as well. I was struck by the fact that these folks had no access to metal, so everything they did (felling trees, emptying out logs to make canoes, joining boards to build houses) had to be done via natural means, such as strategically using fire and coals, or tying things with natural vines.

After the village, we briefly stopped at the overlook of nearby Agate Beach, just to get a glimpse of the incredible ocean view.

Then we headed north to Fern Canyon, because someone earlier on my travels had raved to me about it. Our time there was short since Michael needed to get back home, so the hike was very brief, but the drive to get to the hike was breathtaking and, at times, rugged!

After Fern Canyon, we headed back down to Arcata, and Michael dropped me off at the local co-op, where I rested for a bit before continuing to my Warmshowers hosts for the night in nearby Bayside.

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