It was my last morning in San Francisco. I had been in training all week and worked in my hotel room on client issues during the night. However, the training was done, the issues were resolved. I checked out of the hotel and had a few hours before my flight home. I decided to do a little exploring and check out the Muir Woods, home of a grove of giant redwood pines.
The park was maybe fifteen miles north of the city. If it had been in Chicago, I would have been in the middle of suburban sprawl. However, the roads narrowed and grew more and more winding. The houses thinned out. I slowly ascended a long set of hills. I hit the highest point and found myself looking down at a valley of grass. Ironic; I was two thousand miles from Illinois, but found myself on familiar ground.
Once I crossed over and drove up one last hill, the difference was literally night and day. The sun shone down from a crystal blue sky over the grassland and it was already getting pretty warm. However, once I crossed into the forest, the trees eclipsed the sun. I parked then had to go back to the car for my jacket. I bought my pass and got a pedestrian map at the gate. I had about an hour, so I thought I’d take the short tour to a stand of redwoods known as The Cathedral.
The regular trees were maybe five stories tall, their trunks a few feet around. It was difficult to gauge how big the redwoods were because it was literally impossible to see the forest through the trees. I wandered down the path about a quarter of a mile and found one of the giant redwoods standing guard. At ground level it seemed more like a partition. The rough red bark was splintered and fibrous; long crevasses as deep as my hand cascaded down the sides. Whispery white strands of spider web caught drops of water from the misty air.
There were only a handful of people on the path with me. Few of them said anything aloud. The air was still like the dim moments before dawn. Occasionally there was a crackle in the shaggy green undergrowth. I caught a glimpse of a small animal, maybe a coyote. There were birds in the high canopy, but their sound seemed very far away, echoing down like a ghostly memory. Otherwise, all I could hear was the steady ripple from a nearby brook.