FOR COOL SUMMER HIKES why not visit Huddart Park snuggled on the Skyline Ridge near Woodside? Grassy meadows and numerous hiking trails make this is an ideal place to relax, picnic, and explore the redwoods -- and escape the summer heat. So -- like characters in a fairy tale -- we set off for an adventure into the woods. What surprises await there?
The blue sky disappears above us as the trees close ranks to block the sun. We meander along developed trails through ancient groves, humbled by giant redwoods while reassessing our own importance in the grand scheme of life. Time is suspended and scale is different here in the woods.
Forest wildlife ranges from lions to lizards (mountain lions to fence lizards, that is!) Personally, I prefer an encounter with the occasional lizard -- much less stressful!
Speaking of encounters, we sometimes come upon an equestrian party on the trail. After all, the Woodside paddocks and stables aren't far away. It's very clear who has the right of way here, so we just smile politely and step aside.
Passing deeper into the forest we enjoy the cool shade, the sweet pine smell, and recognize signs of nature's cycle of life: birth and growth, death and decay. In good conditions redwoods grow more than a foot per year. Coast redwoods can live incredibly long (up to 2,000 years) growing taller than any other tree in the world, only exceeded by the giant sequoias and bristlecone pines in the high Sierras. Amazing!
Of course, the survival of this giant living garden relies on sunlight and moisture from fog and rains, decaying nutrients on the forest floor, and the constant attention of bugs and critters like the lowly banana slug who process natural ingredients that redwoods can readily absorb. So we watch for and carefully avoid stepping on these brightly colored mollusks. The redwoods depend on it!