We stopped at the Visitor Center where you can pick up information about the park, hiking trails, campgrounds, etc. Various displays can also be seen here of the Native Americans that inhabited the area for thousands of years as well as the flora and fauna in the park.
Shrouded in fog most of the time (especially in summer), it usually burns off by the afternoon. The temperature here is moderate year round with summer (average high of 62) and winter weather varying by only 10 degrees.
The Yurok people have lived in and around Patrick's Point for generations. They built their homes of redwood planks and dugout canoes from fallen redwoods. Salmon was a primary food source along with elk, deer and other small game. When gold was discovered in 1850 in the area, the influx of settlers nearly destroyed the Yurok people. Having made a remarkable recovery from those dark times, nearly 5,500 Yurok live in this area. They are revitalizing their ancestral language and traditions.
A replica of a small Yurok village has been built at Patrick's Point by an all-Yurok crew (1990). Named Sumeg (meaning forever in the Yurok language) Village it is used today for cultural and educational activities. Each village functioned independently without a chief, army, or courts. Laws governed interactions between private parties and were settled by transfer of wealth. The head man of a village was usually the wealthiest, and also the most virtuous, as it was not possible to accumulate wealth if it were not so.
Family houses were on a pit from planks split from fallen redwoods using elk antlers and wooden wedge tools. There was a covered skylight to let light in or let the smoke from cooking fires escape. The structure was held together by hazel saplings that were heated and then twisted into rope. There were two levels in the house: the bottom level had a continuously burning fire and the upper ledge had a ledge around the top of the pit for storage of a family's food and wealth. Note the round doors that kept out intruders and bears. The women could easily defend the house with burning sticks from the fire. Everyone slept outside except when the weather was bad the women and children would sleep on the bottom level.
A family house was dismantled and the planks used to build a dance pit for a brush dance to heal a child who had become "spiritually ill." It was a spiritual and healing event that lasted for days. The medicine woman played a key role in the ceremony making curative mixtures of herbs to help the child. It was a very elaborate affair with ceremonial dress. Dance pit would then be dismantled and the family house recreated. There are bleachers set up around the dance pit shown below as it is still in use for ceremonial occasions.
The changing houses are used by today's brush dancers of the Yurok, Kuruk, and Hoopa people. Each has their own house.
An important part of the Yurok culture were sweat houses. They were mostly underground with a separate entrance and exit. Used for bathing and ritual purification by the men of the village, it was also sometimes used by the medicine woman. In foul weather, the men and boys would sleep in the sweat lodge. When an individual felt their purification was complete, he/she would exit the sweat lodge and go into water to wash.
There are 120 campsites in three campgrounds at the park. The forested areas have numerous hiking trails that are well marked (and shown on the park's brochure). I loved the wild azaleas, here, too. They are huge and very fragrant!
The two-mile Rim Trail follows the coastline and spur trails provide views of the ocean. We took the Mussel Rocks Trail from the parking lot on Wedding Rock Road. Signs indicating tsunami zones can be seen throughout the Northern California coastal area. It's a short, but steep climb back up the trail!
Next stop was Wedding Rock. It is one of the "sea stacks" that can be seen along the coastline here. It (and others) were originally part of the mainland but have become isolated by the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean. Following the Wedding Rock Trail from the parking lot, you can climb to an overlook. We were thrilled to see a whale from this location, although it is a bit late in the year for whale watching. And this cute little rabbit on the trail was not at all interested in us (or our doggy, Sadie).
Our final stop for the day was Agate Beach. The sandy, wide beach can be seen from the overlook near the parking lot.
Dogs are not permitted on the trails in the park, so Sadie had to wait in the car while we took the Agate Beach Trail down to the water. As the name suggests, agates can be found along this beach, if you have the patience to look for them! Also, there is a small creek that flows into the ocean here. We have seen these on many beaches here in Northern California.
Cliffs, some wooded, also make this a very picturesque beach. You can see where the trail starts at the left in the second photo.
The combination of coastal scenes and lush green forests, makes this a beautiful spot to enjoy a hike, day at the beach, a picnic in a meadow, or visit to the Sumeg village. Beautiful.