Muir Woods, at long last! Wednesday, 4/27/16
Funny how things work out. Jimmy and I postponed our little San Francisco getaway several times because weather forecasts weren't good; in fact, they were cool and rainy. We finally settled on a few days in late April (4/26-28) to celebrate our 15-year anniversary ... and because long-term predictions showed a nice round sun. Till the week before, then Wednesday's picture evolved into raindrops! Well, nuts! Forget about it, no more canceling; we don't melt into puddles and we have rain jackets and umbrellas. So, off we went to SF and Cow Hollow Inn in our Prius, a mere three hours away.
Two things topped our want-to-do list, and the first was a visit to Muir Woods National Monument, one of the last stands of old-growth redwood forests on earth, which is maybe a half hour north of San Francisco. We love being in the natural beauty of a magnificent ancient redwood forest, but altho it's fairly close to where we live now, we'd never made it there. This is one of those places "I've always wanted to see," and hopefully today is the time, rain or shine. It'll probably be one of those awe-inspiring places we'll want to see again and again.
Sure enough, Wednesday morning was cloudy and misty and turned into full-fledged rain on our way to the woods. Phooey. Rain gear in tow, we set off.
Still dripping, but NOT pouring!
Oh yea! The sky began to clear, and soon the sun peeked through the clouds!
And while drops continued to fall on our heads from the foliage, the rain stopped altogether.
Summer fog and winter rains are what keep the redwoods growing here. Many of the trees in this forest are over 600 years old. Rotting logs support life, too.
At the VC, the ranger recommended we walk the scenic two-mile Redwood Creek/Hillside trail, which took us into three beautiful redwood groves: Founders Grove, Cathedral Grove (above) and Bohemian Grove. The trail follows meandering Redwood Creek, which originates in Mt Tamalpais and bisects the park. We were surprised to learn threatened steelhead and endangered coho salmon spawn in this small bubbling creek. Plus, of course, there's salamanders and other critters.
Above Jimmy leans against part of a redwood "root." Below is a close-up of it ... kinda gnarly.
Shade-loving undergrowth thrives below the redwood canopy in this moist climate. Sword ferns, mosses and redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) grace the forest floor. Look how green everything is! I envision a primitive age when I look at these pictures, as in the dinosaur age. Much of what we saw, horsetails, lichens, and ferns, might have been apart of that earlier time.
This is what retirement is all about for us ... to be able to spend time walking along an exquisite path such as this, relishing the quiet nature and cathedral-like beauty; how fortunate we are.
And this, too. Off the Redwood Creek trail, we hiked uphill thru lush woods to Camp Alice Eastwood, a tranquil complex (at least today) with group camping, picnic tables and restrooms. Not sure about exact trail length (1.3 mile we think), but we enjoyed the entire thing by ourselves, just walkin' along.
A temporary loss of our trail led us to this point, but we managed.
Don't like to use the word "lost."
Not too many spots of color, but Andrew's clintonia (Clintonia andrewsiana) was a standout.
The only bird we caught a brief glimpse of was a winter wren as it hopped about the ground cover.
New redwood growth is really pretty.
A different view as we travel The Hillside trail on our way back to the VC. We stopped in at the cafe for a cuppa coffee (yes, there's even a cafe!) before we left. I bought a Muir Woods sweatshirt at the gift shop that should get a lot of wear over the years.
We're so happy to have experienced even a little bit of this national monument, and plan to return in the fall. There's lots more to see and more trails to cover. Summers will be very crowded, I'm sure, but autumn should be gorgeous.
One more thing you may find as interesting as I did. From the brochure: In 1905, William and Elizabeth Kent purchased the forest and opened it as a park. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, developers sought condemnation of the area to build a reservoir. Using the nation's first preservation law, the Antiquities Act of 1906, William and Elizabeth Kent donated the land to the people of the United Sates in December 1907. On January 9, 1008, President Theodore Roosevelt designated Muir Woods a America's tenth national monument.
John Muir wrote eloquently about the Kents' gift, calling the new park "the best tree-lover's monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world." We concur.
Next up? Thing Two!