My sweetheart and I went on a guided hike put on by the Greenbelt Alliance and the Sierra Club through Muir Woods last weekend. Our guide was Mia Monroe, a gifted storyteller who also happens to be a park ranger well versed in both the history and the ecology of the park.
We learned a lot about redwoods — the picture above is of burls that carry the genetic material of the parent tree. If the tree should be damaged, a clone of it may sprout. These particular burls have put out four trees on the site of the parent tree.
We also learned that redwoods get most of their water from fog, which is why they grow so well along the very foggy northern California coast. They also soak up a lot of carbon, so encouraging them is of benefit to us all as 2016 sets another record for global temperature.
Muir Woods is known for its old growth redwoods, but it’s actually a mixed forest, with lots of younger trees coming along. Here’s one of those:
Mia described the various projects underway to work with the creatures who live in the forest. Misguided efforts in the past to tame Redwood Creek has led to problems for the coho salmon who spawn in it, so volunteers are building “coho cabanas” — a den of sticks that protects the young — for them.
Spotted owls live in Muir Woods, despite efforts by another species of owl to drive them out. The rangers are keeping a close watch on this situation. Monarch butterflies also spend time on the nearby beach every year, though we didn’t get to see any of them.
One thing that I found interesting is that the National Park Service is working together with state and local officials to combine resources along Redwood Creek, which runs through the forest but is also on non-federal land. Given the likelihood that the Park Service will continue to get less-than-adequate funding, it is good that they’ve figured out how to work with the other entities to protect this crucial area.
As we reached the end of our hike, a couple asked us to take their picture. After we did so, it suddenly occurred to Jim and me that we’d like a picture of ourselves in the woods as well. So here we are in front of a nice old redwood:
Bathing in the redwoods was a good salve for our souls, given all the stress of the world of late. But it’s impossible not to worry about the future of our national treasures in the face of climate change and efforts to curtail our public lands.
Sometimes I feel like all my outdoor activities are an effort to see what we have before it disappears. I hope I’m wrong about that.