Up and Down (Muir Woods II)

What to do with a long day in Muir Woods National Monument?

Let’s begin with the Redwood Creek Trail, but then avoid the crowds by climbing up Canopy trail.

Descend along Fern Trail back to Redwood Creek Trail, and continue up up up Bootjack Trail, all the way to the antique Mountain Theater.

Connect via Old Mine Trail to Dipsea Trail, enjoy the views, and follow it all the way down to the end, closing the loop.

(There were enough water fountains on the way to keep me hydrated.)

Trillium Ovale (Muir Woods I)

At this time of the year, the monthlong Brown here in the Midwest is broken by the appearance of the first Spring wildflower, the Snow Trillium.

I have written too often about it.

At the same time of the year, the Pacific woods already burst with wildflowers.

Here we see the Trillium ovatum, whose white flowers slowly turn pink while they age.

The threefold symmetry sees the occasional exception with the appearance of a quadrillium, which has fourfold symmetry, like the four leaf clover. With astonishment I saw here a specimen with two-fold symmetry of leaves, petals, stamen and sepals. Duollium?

Patience

Our human sense of time is deeply flawed — linear, homocentric, short.

The majestic redwoods of the Pacific Northwest capture our centuries in moments of their existence – past, present and future become one.

Each year a circle, circle after circle, in perpetuity.

Time here has become space that is occupied by fragile instances of hope.

Burnt, scarred, fractured, hollowed, and yet still alive, stubbornly providing support for what is more important.

We humans have managed to reproduce the size of these trees in our cities. However, what we have missed is to also capture the organic beauty of every little detail, each sliver of bark.

We still haven’t acquired the patience and the determination to allow something to happen.

Let’s not forget that trees will remember us when we are all gone.

Birth (Ferns 7)

My first visit to Fern Canyon in summer was shear awe, with the abundance of fern and growth. In winter, time seems to be in balance.

Everything is suspended, in space and time. This is a moment of not-knowing, of anxiety.

After descending into the canyon, the intense presence of water shows how everything is in flux. Are we ready?

Curiously, the walls of the canyon give safety and comfort and embrace.

The walls move back and forth, and eventually recede and relax.

Are you there, too?

Trillium Falls Trail

After visiting Fern Canyon in Northern California, the Trillium Falls Trail offers a convenient loop to conclude a rainy day.

What do our short years matter to these trees? Having this much time, and not messing up, not failing, is not for our kind.

Even falling takes an eternity here.

The giant redwoods carry themselves with a grace that is beyond us, and create a space that is entirely their own.

Palimpsests of textured bark record stories of pain and healing. If only we had skin like that.

Or are we the ones who are blessed not to know what is contained in so much time and space, because we could never bear it?

Is seeing time pass quickly really healthier for us?

And is fragility only possible because others bear the space and time that is intolerable for us?

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Three and a Half

The first three pictures are from the summer in 2018. My daughter and I were on our way back from Northern California to San Francisco.

We stopped for a night in Mendocino, precariously perched on a cliff, the morning fog obstructing the view of the beginning day.

The last three pictures were taken this January, 3 1/2 years later, again on our way back, again in Mendocino.

This time the evening clouds leave the view open.

What happened in these 3 1/2 years? And what will happen in the next 3 1/2 years?

Humboldt Lagoons

The Humboldt Lagoons in Northern California offer plenty of exposure to the elements, even on a mild winter day.

Walking the dark sand bank that separates the ocean from the lagoon becomes a search.

Nothing could be more ostensibly temporary, but still life holds on.

Shouldn’t we live so that our life becomes a story worth telling?

This place – like each of us – is a challenge – what words, what language can contain it?

Big Sur 1993

To celebrate July 2nd, here I have some nostalgic pictures from 1993, scanned and cleaned up from old negatives.

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This is how the sun used to hover over the Pacific, seen from Highway 1, near Big Sur, where we were headed.

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It’s a day hike from the coast to the destination, so it’s good to get going in the morning and take advantage of the morning fog, until you reach the denser woods.

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Trees make bridges or block the way, like everything else.

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The destination? One of the hot springs hidden in the wilderness. I forgot the name, and I don’t have directions.

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I wonder how all this looks today.

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Despite (Across VI)

This last in the series of Across posts returns to the Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Trail in the Mojave National Preserve. Today we try a different format:

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This is the reason for the name of the trail. There are holes everywhere.

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There are also gaps. So this could be a post about negative space.

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Instead, this post has a desert-worthy theme: It’s about what is there despite the presence of everything else. We could also call it resistance.

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Besides all the holes and cracks, there is the vegetation, that somehow manages to survive, even after a long and hot summer.DSC 1756

Sometimes it helps to hide, sometimes to be invulnerable. We humans can learn. 

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Sometimes it also helps to pretend to be someone else. Or, could it be sufficient to be just oneself?

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Directions (Across V)

Next to Pogonip, there is scenic Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Santa Cruz, named after 20th century composer Henry Cowell.

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The picture above gives a decent idea about Redwood trees. The trees to the left show what trees elsewhere look like. Width has an extra dimension here.

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Because the trees are so tall, it sometimes seems that they just continue vertically forever, in either direction.

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The trees themselves become habitats for other, smaller forests, offering also a perspective inside their fractalized world.

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You can also move time-wise, go back into the past or forward into the future.

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Finally, there is a spot without directions, where time stands still. It’s called the Garden of Eden.