Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Muir Woods: the silent forest
My boss told me that she'd taken her son to Muir Woods because it was the place where Return of the Jedi had been filmed. I groaned inwardly, thinking, oh great - a forest full of majestic redwoods, desecrated by Ewoky marketing crap. But we went anyway. We needed some respite from the craziness of SF.
D and I braved an hour of hairpin, butt-clenching mountain roads to get there. I stepped out of the car in the parking lot and was amazed to see a puff of my breath cloud the air. The temperature in SF had hovered around 18 degrees; in Muir Woods, it was 9! On went a pair of pants under my new dress; on went the touristy San Francisco wind breaker D bought me at Fisherman's Wharf; on went my pink socks and running shoes. Only Ewoks would see me, right?
I'm happy to report that Muir woods remains blissfully Lucas-free. The only advertisement I saw was a sign strictly forbidding the feeding of baby chimpmunks ("We know they're cute, but please don't feed them.") There are dozens of trails you can take, most of which meander through the never-ending cathedral of towering redwoods or past trickling streams.
The air was crisp and pure. I felt as though I was drinking in gallons of oxygen - my city-starved lungs seemed to stretch open to twice their size.
I wish I could describe the silence of those woods to you. We felt we had to whisper most of the time. D tried speaking loudly, but the woods swallowed up his voice as though he'd spoken in a vaccum. I half expected to see something mythical coming towards me through the waist-deep ferns - a unicorn or one of those elves from LOTR. Instead, we met an assortment of hikers and tourists, all of whom greeted us in their native language. Muir woods was the only place we visited on our vacation where that happened. I don't know all redwood forests lend themselves to a sense of community and friendliness among strangers. If they do, we should all spend a couple of hours there at least once a week.
Next: oranges and avodados and cotton, oh my!