My husband and I spent the weekend out in California’s Bay Area, and while it wasn’t his first trip to the area, it was mine. I wanted to find some things to do that would be new for him, and so I polled friends on Facebook for some suggestions. Several friends mentioned Muir Woods, and one used these words: “A few minutes north of there is Muir Woods where you can stare at the bottoms of very big trees.” I thought, “I must go.”
Another friend who lives in the Bay Area cautioned that traffic had been terrible getting to Muir Woods and that several of her out-of-town friends who tried to visit there had given up because of that. But I was determined. After all, how can someone who writes about trees miss out on this opportunity?
We tried for an early start, getting breakfast bagels to eat in the car, and that seemed to make the traffic and parking problem less of an issue. Even in the parking lot, I felt like I was entering an enchanted place.
I quickly realized my friend’s comment about staring at the bottoms of these trees was dead on. It’s hard to even imagine the scale, and I post these pictures knowing full well that even the pictures don’t do justice. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon in person instead of looking at its pictures. Pictures alone cannot convey the majesty of this place.
Muir Woods is a national monument, instead of a national park, because the landowners who were donating the land wanted it saved more quickly than national park status would have. William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thacher Kent bought the land to protect it from logging that wiped out much of the redwood growth in the area, and then they donated it to the federal government, hoping to ensure it would remain unlogged, which it has. The Kents asked that the place be named in honor of John Muir, the great conservationist who played a key role in the National Parks movement. In his letter thanking the Kents, Muir wrote of this place: “This is the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world. You have done me a great honor.” Continue reading