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Spending a Week Recording Nature Sounds around Northern California

I just got back from a week long road trip to Northern California with my girlfriend, specifically the area around Redwood National Park. While traveling around the area I managed to capture some interesting sounds and I wanted to share those findings.

Here are all different Field Recording rigs I used on this trip, I like to stick to more affordable rigs as sometimes I have to leave the rigs in the car and I don't want to be destroyed emotionally if they get stolen:

I also had my laptop and cameras with me so as a good solution for having those in the car I used a 1620 Pelican Case. Which can fit a back pack, a Field Recording bag and several other pieces of gear in it. For security I used a strong pad lock to keep the case shut and when I had to leave it in the car I used 2 thick wire cable bike locks to lock the case to the base of the driver's seat of my vehicle. It worked great as I felt more comfortable than normal having to leave it in the car for short periods of time. Mostly it stayed in the Air BnB but on some legs of our journey (on the drive out) I had to have it in the vehicle.

The following is a brief overview of the areas I found while I was down there and the nature sounds I was able to record.

The first leg of our journey began with a 10 hour drive from Redmond, WA to McKinleyville, CA where our Air BnB was.

The roads got very dicey towards the last leg of the journey as it turned into a one lane road at night with sharp winding turns. Add locals tailgating you and it is a recipe for a stressful drive. But needless to say we made it.

After sleeping off the 10 hour drive and having a hearty breakfast our recording adventures began.

Patricks Point State Park

First stop was Patricks Point State Park which has an amazing view of the ocean and a path to hike down to some rocky beaches. It was here that I almost lost my LOM Usi Pro Microphones and my Sony RX 100 camera to some rising tides and unexpected waves.

Ocean Waves on Rocks Recorded with LOM Usi Pro's and a Mix Pre 6 v2.

Fortunately the bumblebee covers that come with the Usi Pro's protected the mics from any salt water. Afterwards I left them in a bowl of rice just to be sure there was not any moisture stuck in the microphones that could damage them. You can really see the panic on my face in tat video because I love those mics for hiking and day to day use.

I also captured this recording of Ocean Waves crashing on rocks with a Wildtronics SAAM.

Ocean Waves on Rocks Recorded with Wildtronics SAAM going line in to a Mix Pre 6 v2.

After that my Girlfriend and I traveled back up the path and were greeted to this breathtaking view of the Ocean. We weren't sure but we believe we could see Whales in the distance.

Distant Ocean Waves on Rocks Recorded with Wildtronics SAAM going line in to a Mix Pre 6 v2.

After that we decided to visit an area near Trinidad, CA. Which is a bit ironic as my parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. I had no idea there was a place called Trinidad in California.

Humboldt Lagoons State Park

There we were greeted with a pleasant surprise, an empty beach with crashing Ocean Waves. You will see in more of the places we visited that the holidays is one of the best times to visit these areas, especially if you are into Field Recording as they all are pretty much empty. So you can really capture some nice nature ambiences.

Ocean Waves Crashing on a Beach Recorded with Wildtronics SAAM going line in to a Mix Pre 6 v2.

The sun was setting and the sky was pretty cloudy so it was time to end the day.

The next day was pretty rainy but we decided to soldier on and start it off with a short hike to see some Redwood Trees which are HUGE...

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

At this location I decided to try something different, I ran a pair of LOM Mikro Usi's through the sleeves of my jacket and into a Roland R07. I always wanted to try this but soon found out getting the rig ready to record in the rain was more challenging than I thought. Also the sound of the rain hitting my jacket did not make it any easier for me to capture clean sounds.

In the following video I share the recordings I got and some after thoughts about running a rig like this. I think I have some work to do to refine this a bit more to be honest. But I did get some decent sounds.

Various Water and Forest Sounds Recorded with LOM Mikro Usi's going into a Roland R07

We got absolutely drenched on this hike but it was alot of fun.

One of the best parts of this location is that there are a ton of Elk hanging out around this area. On the drive in there is an area you can stop and see some Elk just chilling eating food. I highly recommend not getting too close tho, they are pretty dangerous.

On the way out of there traffic was actually blocked by some that wandered into a nearby town.

Before we ended the day we stopped by off the 101 near the Freshwater Lagoon that had a beautiful view of the Ocean and quiet beach with intense waves.

Ocean Waves on a Beach Recorded with Wildtronics SAAM going line in to a Mix Pre 6 v2.

After that we decided to end the day and pick up recording/exploring the next day.

Avenue of the Giants

On the third day we drove through the Avenue of the Giants which is an amazing drive. There are a lot of giant Redwoods to see and areas to stop. I was actually surprised how quiet it was there so along the way we stopped to grab some Forest Ambiences.

Forest Air Recorded Recorded with Wildtronics SAAM going line in to a Mix Pre 6 v2.

This area was so quiet I stopped on the side of the road and I grabbed a couple recordings for the Field Recording Slack's upcoming Crowdsource Library: Debris. Having a 32 bit recorder helped a lot for these recordings as I had to be quick before a car (or airplane) drove by.

Rock Debris Recorded with LOM Usi Pro's and a Mix Pre 6 v2.

Wood/Branch Debris Recorded with LOM Usi Pro's and a Mix Pre 6 v2.

After the beautiful drive through the Avenue of the Giants we drove down one of the most intense road I have ever been on with a ton of potholes and washed out areas. Part of it was actually flooded but I managed to drive through it and made it to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to.

Mattole Beach

When we first got to Mattole Beach I did not know what to expect. Huge sand dunes hid the beach from the parking area and all you could hear was the intense roar of the Ocean. As we hiked over the dunes we were greeted to the most beautiful view.

The rocks along the beach made the most satisfying sound as the Ocean Waves crashed against them. I have to admit the power of the Ocean was pretty scary here. It almost felt like like the edge of the world.

The drive back was one of the most stressful drives I have ever done. Thin, narrow one lane roads with potholes that wind around tall hills and cliffs. The first half is along the Ocean and it is truly intimidating, there are random cows on the road and no lights whatsoever. I highly recommend avoiding this drive at night. By the time we made it to civilization I was so relieved, I have never been that happy to see a gas station.

The next day it was time to start our journey back, we decided to visit a few sights along the way and spend the night in Eugene, OR instead of doing the 10 hour drive straight.

Since we were traveling back and most of my gear was packed up I decided to stick to my trusty Sony D100 for this day. It made it a lot easier to pop out and grab a recording as it can take about 5 minutes to set up SAAM or my Usi Pro's with the Mix Pre 6.

Patrick J Murphy Memorial DR

Our first stop of the day was a beautiful overlook of the Ocean. When you first park you are greeted with a great view but if you hike half a mile (warning the way back has a lot of elevation and can be a trek) you can really get to a stunning view of the area.

Distant Ocean Waves Recorded with a Sony D100.

False Klamath Cove

There is a stop along the 101 where you can walk down to a great rocky beach. I was surprised I was able to get a good recording considering how close it was to the 101 but the Ocean is just that loud. and the D100 was able to capture some usable source. I had a bit of trouble with wind, even with the Rycote dead cat for the D100. But I learned from my adventures on the Oregon Coast last year that in a pinch my Toque (or Beanie for you Americans) doubles as makeshift wind protection.

Ocean Waves on a Beach Recorded with a Sony D100.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Our last stop was Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, to get there you have to drive down a fun dirt road with tons of giant Redwoods. It is like something out of a movie. At the end of the road there is a nice half mile hike to see some of the biggest trees around.

While walking there you could hear some great crows in the distance but unfortunately it was too close to a highway to get a good recording. Halfway down the path we did find a hidden trail that lead to a river. So we hiked down there and grabbed some sounds.

Rushing River recorded with Sony D100.

Well that is the end of our journey. On the way back we stopped in Portland for Lunch. I strongly recommend that if you are ever there you visit Stacked Sandwich Shop. The food was amazing.



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