I have to be honest. The 80+ changes the current administration is implementing to weaken environmental laws and regulations has really gotten me down. Each day, more regression. Each day, more species lost. But a half-day trip into the redwood forest at Samuel P. Taylor State Park relieved my anxiety and re-inspired my commitment to fight against those reversals. With 1000 Grandmothers on September 20th, I plan to support millions of youth worldwide in San Francisco in a global strike for the climate.
Why is it that the redwoods always make me feel more grounded, more connected to the Earth? It’s the quietude that reigns among the old giants; the regal stance of younger redwoods on lush hillsides; the sword, maidenhair and five-fingered ferns nourishing the ground around the roots of the trees; and the delicate light that points down through the canopy, arousing seedlings into new life. As fall begins, the beauty of the wildflowers, now held in abeyance, has been supplanted by the softly changing colors of the trees.
Despite the fact that flowers were spent, life was still thriving when I hiked the Pioneer Trail. The elk clover had already bloomed its beautiful white sprays, but its purple fruits stood out. Bright red rose-hips showed along the trail. Hundreds of shades and hues of green adorned the path on both sides. On the south side, redwoods, ferns and verdant foliage ascended the bank’s hillside. As I hiked over the small hill, oaks, bays and madrones emerged.
I saw no live mammals on this trip, even squirrels, but I did see a dead black mole lying on a fire road. I couldn’t figure out what might have made it surface, leaving its relatively safer dark home underground. Maybe a predator dragged it out and then was scared off. The mole bore the characteristic long nails that allow it to dig forwards and backwards through dirt looking for earthworms and insects. It also wore the typical shiny fur that helps dirt slide off so the animal doesn’t get matted fur. If you’re wondering if the head is there, in fact it is, but moles lack necks so the head blends into the rest of the body. In this photo, a closer look shows a carnivorous yellow jacket taking advantage of the small five-inch corpse.
Taking the Pioneer Trail allows you to see the redwoods on foot. But you can also bicycle through the redwoods via the picnic area and over the bridge to Cross Marin Trail, which lies adjacent to Lagunitas Creek. Trails on the north side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard take you to stimulating views of the Pacific Ocean as you climb up through grassy hillsides.
Lagunitas Creek flows beside the Pioneer Trail, the greater park and all the way to the sea. It numbed my feet when I unwittingly jumped in after shedding my shoes and socks on the shoreline.
Why was it so cold given that we are just ending the Summer season and its source derives from Mt. Tamalpais and not the melted snows of the Sierra? Don’t know, but I do know that it extends 20 miles through the county and provides the drinking water for Marin residents.
On the Cross Marin trail on the north side of the creek, the dominant trees are big-leaf maples and birches. A few Buckeye butterflies sailed around, along with a few skippers. They seemed to lead me down the trail to the black metamorphic chert that lies at trail’s end right before it hits the highway.