Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Muir Woods

On Sunday we had some time, so we took a trip north of San Francisco to see Muir Woods. This is a National Monument, a preserve of giant redwoods just a few miles north of the city. Because of its proximity, it is pretty crowded in the floor of the valley, but we turned east on the Oceanview Trail and pretty quickly left most of the crowds behind. You can take virtual tour online here.

The redwoods themselves are astounding and beautiful creatures. Most of the ones we viewed were between 10-20 feet in diameter and rose up out of our sight. I am told that these are small compared to the redwoods of Sequoia National Park, but they were plenty impressive to me. They grow so slowly that many of the trees we were looking at were easily 1000 years old. They tend to grow in family groupings. If one tree dies, or is killed by fire or storm, in time the root system will yield up multiple saplings rising in a ring around the central snag. We saw one very clear example of this phenomenon – a broken central stump surrounded by a ring of towering shafts rising up into the canopy. Amazing.

The Oceanview Trail moved up out of the valley onto a high ridge. As you top the ridge you can see the Pacific Ocean to the west, just over another intervening ridge. The air was just a bit hot, dry and breezy. The terrain along the ridge was grassy, marked with a few large rock formations. We followed the Sun Trail and the Dipsea Trail back down as they traced to folding contours along the ridge and back down into the valley. A beautiful walk and good heart medicine in preparation for the coming day.

Once down we drove to Stinson Beach along Route 1. Wow. That is an amazing drive! It's amazing both for the beauty of it, and for the sheer demanding nature of the driving. There is no relaxing on this drive. Relax, and you are likely to find yourself falling off into the Pacific for the last time.

At the beach we put our toes into the Pacific and had a good dinner and headed back to the hotel.

1 comment:

Nickole K said...

Route 1 ~ I drove route 1 (PCH) from Ventura County to San Fran in my Jetta pulling a U-Haul. My knuckles were white, my stomach was in knots, but WOW the views were AMAZING!! ~ Glad you had a safe drive too :)