Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

 Being unemployed sometimes has its perks.  Such as mid-week trips to Muir Woods.  Before loggers put cutting implements (saws?  axes?  large machines that are possessed by the spirit of pollution, which sounds alarmingly like Tim Curry?) to trunk in California, there were two million acres of old-growth redwood forest.  Now, little remains.  The area that became Muir Woods National Monument was left alone due to its inaccessible location, and it was purchased by William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thacher Kent (who must, according to a quick Google search, be an actual Thacher).  Today, Muir Woods is a major tourist attraction, and even on a cold and foggy Thursday lunchtime visit, it was packed. 

 I snapped a quick iPhone photo of the bridge in fog as my friend Sabrina drove us over.  

The tallest tree is over 252 feet, and the widest trunk is 14 feet.  The oldest redwoods in the park are over a thousand years old, with most of the mature trees aged between five and eight hundred years. 

 It's dizzying to be among such tall living things, especially ones that feel so primeval.  Stepping back into the land of dinosaurs, or something.  It can be a very reverential experience--when you manage to escape screaming children and clamorous tourists (note: it's not just Americans who are loud...I won't name names, mais vous connaissez qui vous êtes).

Fog is an important part of a redwood's viability, since it provides moisture in the summer months, condensing on the tree's needles and falling to the forest floor.  This makes it dark and damp down where we tread.  Moss grows like muppet fur on tree trunks and strange mushrooms sprout in many colors.  Some of them looked delectable.  Others, like these blue-tinged ones, did not. 

We kept thinking about ET.  I wish I'd had some Reese's Pieces.

Yep, the trees are big. (And yep, I'm a huge dork.)

 The foliage of the deciduous trees (as opposed to the Sequoia sempervirens) was starting to turn and fall. 

When informed that the grove would be named for him, John Muir wrote: "This is the best tree-lover's monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.  You have done me great honor, and I am proud of it."

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