Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Year, New Adventures, Old Trees

This year, 2013, I have vowed to myself to be more adventurous than the one prior.  This is not an unusual resolution for me.  Like any good addict, I always long for more, more, more.  But this year, I can totally see myself besting the one that preceded it.  In 2012, I bought a condo.  I had a wonderful time converting it from a beige land of blah to a multi-hued place that I now call home, but in the interim I found myself more drawn to websites devoted to decor and design than to those touting the latest hostels.

Now, I am ready to revert my old wandering self.  So where to start?  What exciting destination should I head to first? Well, let's see I have a couple of days off in Oakland.  Of course, I will be going across the bay to San Francisco, but that is terrain that I have covered often.  Yosemite?  Too far. Wine country?  Not so much fun when you are driving. How about the Muir Woods?  I have never been, it is only 45 minutes away and there are some big ass trees.
I do realize this is an odd choice in a quest for adventure, seeing as absent a news-worthy weather phenomena, trees are, by their very nature, not the most animated beings.  But this particular flora came highly recommended, as did the winding, curvy drive that leads up to it. 

First of all, there is the very antiquity of these trees.  Some of the coast redwoods found in this park are estimated to be at least 1,200 years old, with ancestors dating back over 150 million years.

Then there is the awe-inducing height of these trees whom according to the brochure handed out at the park's ticket office are the world's tallest living thing. The most vertically gifted tree in the park is over 252 feet tall (and can grow up to 380 ft).  This is something, that despite everyone's best attempts, is pretty difficult to capture on camera, so you will have to take my word for it (or you could visit here).

Admittedly, neither height or age can lead to what most would describe as an adventure.  The park leads more toward peaceful introspection, an appreciation of nature's beauty and soothing nature sounds.  That is, unless you happen to be visiting the park with someone who is darkly and unnaturally fatalistic.  Where most of us were appreciating the patterns of dappled sunlight that shone down upon us, this one fellow was constantly on the lookout for the weakling, the tree that was going to collapse and kill us all.

And sure, it does happen that through a combination of factors (ie drought, fire, wood rot), occasionally one of these giants will come toppling down.  It is just that most people do not expect it to occur during the course of their afternoon stroll.  To add to his dark fascination, there are signs detailing the circumstances leading to each individual tree's recent downfalls. Oddly enough, the last one to collapse happened on Dec. 21, 2012, the predicted end of the world.  The plaque states that the sound could be heard for miles around,  which considering the timing, must have led to some very jittery nerves in the surrounding areas.

Fortunately, gravity and extreme bad luck were both taking the day off and all trees remained erect for the duration of our stay.  The peak of adventure for us was discovering that the trail that we were on had been shut down for maintenance, meaning that we had to double back 1/4 mile and resume on another path.

Check out the branch growing at a perfect 90 degree angle.  It was a leading candidate in the "what will go boom first ?' competition

All in all, it made for a wonderful outing, proving that sometimes the quietest of adventures can be some of the most rejuvenating.

Or we could just keep going back until one of these behemoths calls it a day...

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