Monday, August 4, 2008
Forest through the trees
Wile the peaks and rugged trails of Mount Diablo are a favorite hiking spot there are mountains to explore. Sunday found Alice and I exploring the wood and wonders of Mount Tamalpais and the Bootjack Loop Trail along Muir woods.
With cool temperatures and plenty of shade this would be a nice break from the grassland hikes we have been on lately. The trailhead started at the Pantoll ranger station about 1,500 feet up the mountain. Mount Tamalpais tops out just over 2,500 feet, shorter than Mount Diablo. But what it lacks in height it makes up for beauty with its varied regions of pine and redwood trees along with waterfalls and streams.
Our hike was a nice 5-mile loop that would take us down Alpine Trail to Bootjack where we would follow it to Muir woods. We then would take Ben Johnson Trail back to Stapelveldt where we have a nice steep pull back up to the ranger station.
Bootjack is a narrow trail that skirts pine and redwood trees. Light filtering through the canopy shines spotlights on the leaves and ferns giving stark colors against the muted shade of the trail.
We made our way steadily downhill where we bumped into two exchange students, Tony from China and Eloisa from Brazil. They were lost and scared and looking for a way back to the Muir Woods visitor center where they started. We gave them a spare map and had them tag along with us. They were a quite pair, both amazed at the beauty and grandeur on the trail around us. We got them back on the right track where Alice stopped to help a group of tourists from Taiwan who also needed directions. Our hike had taken on an international flavor.
The hike was beautiful as we walked among the towering trees. We would stop for pictures of moss on a stump or the sight of a sunlit spider web glowing in the darkness. Mysterious looking plants and flowers covering a dry streambed made for good photo subjects, as did the flowing glossy bark of a tree alongside the trail.
The return trip was a steady pull uphill some portions very steep as we stopped for more pictures and to catch our breath. We found a tree hollowed out tall enough to walk through and we took turns posing inside.
It was a great hike among the giants as we took a trip through the forest on Mount Tamalpais. We are thinking about a trip from Stinson Beach to the mountain along the Dipsea Trail in the fall. That should be another beautiful hike though the trees.