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Pilgrims at Grizzly Creek
by John Scull

oregon coast

These photographs were taken in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park in California in 2004. The pictures are unremarkable but the location has an important place in the history of the non-violent struggle for environmental justice and world peace. The visit to Grizzly Creek was a pilgrimage.

Grizzly Creek is a small park 17 miles from the main highway and there is little to distinguish it from other parks devoted to protecting the few remaining coastal redwood trees. It is beautiful and inspiring, but no more than many other locations. The park brochure says the Nongatl Indians once lived there, but were relocated by the U.S. Army. According to the brochure, “we could have learned much from a people who lived so long in peaceful coexistence with each other and in a harmonious relationship with their environment.”

moss covered redwoods

Grizzly Creek is important in more recent history. According to her autobiographical book The Legacy of Luna, Julia Butterfly Hill visited Grizzly Creek Park, probably in 1996. She was recovering from an accident, seeking “a sense of purpose,” traveling through California with friends. She felt drawn to the forest and later wrote that she crossed the road and went for a walk in the woods:

Upon entering the forest, I started walking faster and faster, and then, feeling this exhilarating energy, I broke into a run, leaping over logs as I plunged in deeper.

Among the trees, away from the road, she had one of the life-changing experiences at the core of ecopsychology or ecospirituality.

Everywhere I turned, there was life whether I could see, smell, hear, taste, or touch it or not. For the first time, I really felt what it was like to be alive, to feel the connection of all life and its inherent truth – not the truth that is taught to us by so-called scientists or politicians or other human beings, but the truth that exists within creation.

She wrote, “I walked out of the forest a different woman. I certainly felt a calling, but I had some doubts about whether or not the calling was true.” She took her doubts back to nature, hiking near the coast in the King’s Mountains and praying in this natural setting. She felt she was called to fight for the forests of California. “If I had known what was in store, I’m not sure I would have so readily agreed to follow this urgent call.”


The beginning of her story is in The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2000), Julia’s account of the 2 years and 8 days she lived in the canopy of a giant redwood tree. Since coming down from her tree, Julia has continued to devote herself to non-violent peace, ecological, and human rights activism. Information about her continuing work can be found at

Linda and I are not as courageous or committed or dynamic as Julia Butterfly Hill and Grizzly Creek did not inspire us to risk our lives to protect redwood trees. But both of us continue to work for peace and social and environmental justice and both of us continue to find our inspiration in direct contact with the natural world around us. Inspiring places like Grizzly Creek can be found everywhere if we just open ourselves to them.

Here are some of the photographic images from the trip:

high atop bamfield






another waterfall




trees in the sun






flower in the rain


flowers in the rain


spider web in the rain


John is an environmental activist and ecopsychologist in British Columbia, Canada. He is a founding member of ICE.

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