The woods beckonJun 15th, 2009 | By editor | Category: Lifestyle, Travel
The Pacific Ocean is on our right, and the mountainous valley on the left. It’s 11 in the morning, and we take in the scenic sight of the Pacific on our way to Muir Woods National Park, and the Stinson Beach.
A Californian farmer has spread out his harvest of almond, cherry, raisins, pear, apple, grapes and apricot in attractive polythene packets on the side door of his truck. A few Americans are riding towards the Muir Woods. And, then it was time for us to head to our destination too, driving through a dense forest of red wood, douglas fir, maples, tank-bank oak and bay laurel. The topography was undulating and provided vistas of hazy mountain ranges. And, then, we caught out first glimpse of Muir. It was a down-climb thereafter.
Muir Woods National Park rests at the foot of Mount Tam and comprises 550 acres with a grove of old growth red woods (Sequoia sempervirens).
It is named after the naturalist, John Muir, who was instrumental in evolving the National Park System in 1901. Now, the Muir Woods present themselves in their pristine glory, with a paved pathway to go round and take a look at redwood trees, some of which are a thousand years old. The sun-light oozes through the dense crowns of the trees, and the jungle stream gurgles through the vegetation carrying fishes such as rainbow trout, silver salmon, cray-fish and steel-head. The pathway winds through the grove, offering a sight of the magnificent red woods. There are six miles of walking trails, and no cars are allowed in the red wood grove.
The Cathedral and Bohemian groves contain the largest red woods, up to 252 feet tall and 14 feet in circumference. Near the reception centre, in a huge glass casing, is housed the huge cross-section of a 1,000-year-old red wood tree in which the most important events in American history, such as the discovery of America by Columbus, the Declaration of American Independence and establishment of Muir woods have been inscribed along with the dates.
The forests are home to the grizzly black bear, coyote, black-tailed deer, elk and cougar, but we did not come across any of them.
Another highlight of Muir woods is that with each season, the biological activity of the forest floor triggers differently at clock-wise precision.
During Fall, which is warmest, lay bugs swarm and cray fish are active in Red wood creek. Besides, leaves of big-leaf maple turn yellow and fall.
During winter, steel-head and silver salmon migrate up Red wood creek to spawn and toyon berries turn a vibrant red. In Spring, birds nest while black tailed deer bring forth spotted fawns and wild flowers dot Red wood canyon. Summer is the season of fog, azaleas, aralias, and so on.
Stinson beach presented itself virtually at the end of the down-climb. The vast stretch of sand facing the sea and the view of Mount Tam along with a lit-up sea saw people zipping out their cameras.