Monday, April 23, 2012

SF - Redwood Regional Park

The Bay Area is a megalopolis, but one that is surrounded by a lot of nature.  There seem to be beautiful national and regional parks ringing the entire area and especially in the hills above Oakland and Berkeley.   I've definitely been to all of them as a kid and sometimes more recently for xmas walks with the family, but I can't really remember them all or differentiate them in my head.  Since I've gotten so into walking Mont-Royal, I thought I should make an effort to do some nice hikes while I'm here and get to know better these parks.

I started this weekend with Redwood Regional Park, which is in the hills above Oakland.  It was recommended by a work colleague as well as my parents.  It has a cool history.  It was originally part of the massive redwood forest that went from Oregon down to central California (which itself was part of a much bigger forest that covered the west but much of which died off due to a climate shift).  These redwood were frickin' huge!  Two of them were so tall that they were used as navigation guides for boats coming into the Golden Gate.  The hills behind Oakland became sources of lumber for the development of the area in the 19th century.  It was basically clear cut.  There are stories of stumps that were 30 feet in diameter (to compare, the widest tree in the Redwood National Forest, which has the tallest trees in the world is about 20 feet in diameter).  Even, those stumps got devoured by humans, used up as firewood over the decades.

Ring of adolescent redwoods
In the beginning of the 20th century, the area was closed off and protected because it was a water source. The saplings of the felled redwoods were allowed to grow and today over 100 years later, we have a lovely park of adolescent redwoods.  What's really cool is that many of today's redwood are clustered in these ring formations, growing out of the saplings that fell around the original trees.  So the ring represents the rough circumference of the original tree that was felled.  You can kind of imagine what the forest looked like then, which must have been just insane, truly prehistoric, where a single tree would have been as wide as a house and going to incredible heights, without a lot of ground coverage.  It really makes me want to go to Redwood National Forest, where there still are some redwoods of that size left.

All in all, it was a beautiful hike.  I stayed off the biggest trails and at first saw only a few joggers.  As the day went on, I ran into a lot of people walking their dogs. I saw the tail end of a good-sized doe crashing away from me in the woods and an osprey flying above the trees.

Spring Forget-me-nots as identified by my mother

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