Stopping by Muir Woods on a Friday Morning


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 20070427 150329grassland 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.

20070427160000There 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.

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One comment

  1. Your piece accurately describes what I felt when I first saw the ancient trees at Sequoia National Park. There are only 3 places in the world where these ancient lifeforms have survived: two are in California–Sequoia Park and John Muir Woods. The third is somewhere in China.

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