Muir Woods, oh how I love thee

Here man is no longer the center of the world, only a witness, but a witness who is also a partner in the silent life of nature, bound by secret affinities to the trees. – Dag Hammarskjold (UN Secretary General 1953-1961)

Ok, just go ahead and label me a full-fledged tree hugger! I love plants: trees, flowers, mosses, grass, you name it. Coming from someone who’s idea of a perfect day includes roaming Pike Nursery for hours on end, looking at plants, reading their tags and dreaming of a perfect yard, Muir Woods was pretty much one of the most magical places on Earth and a day I won’t soon forget.
We arrived in San Francisco very late on Friday night, so needless to say, we started Saturday off on a very relaxed schedule. We enjoyed a delicious home cooked breakfast with our dear west coast friends and their sweet little addition, Elle. This was our first time seeing their precious bundle and let me tell you, a 3-month-old with two big ol’ dimples… my heart was a puddle in my chest.

After breakfast, we packed up the car for a beautifully scenic drive to Muir Woods. We zipped through downtown San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the picturesque town of Sausalito on our way to Muir Woods. As we drove along the winding mountain roads, we let down the windows (more for a little white noise for a tired baby) and inhaled the most delicious scent imaginable! Waves of fresh pine and cedar filled the car. That smell, coupled with the crisp bay breeze made you want to bottle it up and bring it back to steamy Georgia.

We stopped off at Muir Beach for an oh-so-California picnic: delightful cheeses, crackers, pepperoni, turkey, olives and of course refreshing white wine. The quaint picnic table, the fresh ocean air, a reunion with old friends… these are what perfect days are made of.
After our finger food feast, we hopped back into the car and headed to Muir Woods National Monument. Now, a little note about these pictures: We arrived in the late afternoon when the sun was dipping lower and lower behind the hills. While this was very magical and quite enchanting, it didn’t make for the brightest photos. However, I hope you are able to sense the deep, dark beauty of the forest.
As the sun dipped down, gorgeous rays of soft golden light filtered to the ground. It was very quiet in the forest. I felt like I was miles away from civilization and for a moment I pretended that was true.
Beautiful clovers carpeted many areas of the forest floor. This gave the otherwise dark surroundings a burst of color. There were so many unique plant species along the paths. Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder especially loved these ‘chimney sweep pines’. That is not their real name, I have no idea what these whispy plants are actually called, but would love to find out.
Tucked away in the dim forest was this precious purple flower, hiding ever so sweetly behind a fallen limb. At first glance, the only thing you might notice in this forest would be the redwoods, so tall and imposing, however I love how just a little look closer reveals an entire community of blossoming variety.
There are some moments in life when you just feel so small. The soaring heights of this forest is almost impossible to depict in photos. Years upon years of growing, stretching and reaching, higher and higher.
You’re really able to get an idea of the tree’s magnitude when you see one that has crashed to the forest floor. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is hear to hear it, does it make a sound? I have to believe this one would.
These magnificent trees are often found in ‘families’ or ‘cathedrals’. Usually, this means the trees have grown up from the living remains of the stump of a fallen redwood, and since they grew out of the perimeter, they are organized in a circle. If one of the family ‘members’ should fall, the other family members will continue thriving off of the fallen tree’s established root system. 
As we walked down the wooden walkway through the canopy of trees, we came upon this beautiful, brilliant green tree. It’s leaves set the forest ablaze in green light. It was absolutely breathtaking.
With all of their peace and noble beauty, it is hard to imagine that someone could cut them down. Something so old, so wise, destroyed at the hand of man. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit guilty walking through the trees, almost like I was sending out little silent apologies as I passed.
Another adorable plant for which I do not know the name. I have nicknamed it a ‘dandelion fern’, probably couldn’t be further from the truth. Would love to know it’s real name. Its little spindle, round blossoms were so cute.
Ok, so everyone is entitled to a few corny photos while meandering through the forest. No, we weren’t playing hide-n-seek, just being silly.
That’s my man, my big burly tree-hugger of a man.
We stumbled upon this interesting plaque in the forest, the Bicentennial Tree. So bewildering to think this trees was busy growing on the west coast while the American Revolution was being fought thousands of miles away.
We loved these feathery fields of ‘chimney sweep pines’. It really added to the allure of this magical place.
Another brilliant tiny detail in this towering forest, precious curly plant tendrils. 
Check out the thickness of the bark on this fallen redwood. We were pretty impressed. We later read that the bark on some trees has been found to be more than a foot in thickness! I think the trees were laughing at us.
Oh and by the way, as if this scenery could be more serene… imagine the sounds of a beautiful babbling brook. Moss covered stones and crystal clear, ice cold water; it was truly like something out of a meditation video.
My green thumb was just too interested not to take a picture of the quaint habitat restoration display. Made me want to bust out my gardening gloves and make a permanent home here.
I have to admit, I was a little sad to leave Muir Woods. The sheer peace and serenity were beckoning to me. How can you look back at this intriguing, winding trail and be okay with heading home? When they say, “Let there be peace on Earth”, I am pretty sure they are referring to Muir Woods.

Posted 6/22/10, Topic: Blog

  • Katie Hollingsworth
    June 22, 2010 at 11:02 pm |

    General Sherman, the Giant Sequoia at Sequoia National Park is 2,500 years old!!! And its not the oldest tree, its just the biggest! Fascinating!

  • Gina
    June 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm |

    Krista, this was such a great post! Great photograpahy. Great words. It's been 26 years since I visited Muir Woods but I still remember that magical place and hope to return one day. Oh, and I can so relate to the line "a perfect day includes roaming Pike Nursery for hours on end, looking at plants, reading their tags and dreaming of a perfect yard…" Just last weekend my Guy whisked me away for an out of town date. Our first stop…a lovely little nursery in Valdosta where we lingered til they closed shop. "Give fools their gold, and knaves their power; let fortune's bubbles rise and fall; who sows a field, or trains a flower, or plants a tree, is more than all."
    -John Greenleaf Whittier

  • {BlueEyedYonder}
    June 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm |

    Gina – I absolutely love that quote. Such peace and happiness in gardening.

  • {Little Green Jar}
    August 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm |

    Hey Krista, So I got curious about your "Chimney Sweep Pines" that I started doing a bit of research….They are Giant Horsetails!

    http://www.english-country-garden.com/flowers/horsetail.htm

    Hope this helps quench your curiosity!

  • {BlueEyedYonder}
    August 18, 2010 at 8:22 am |

    Heather – You're awesome! I can't tell you how happy that makes me to finally know what those beautiful plants are actually called. Thanks a ton for doing a little research :-)

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