Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Midweek Redwood

West Ridge-Stream-Canyon-East Ridge
(8.37 miles)

I'm just getting to know Redwood, I must confess. I have only hiked here a couple of times, but the past three weeks, this has been the Wednesday rendez-vous, and I'm definitely becoming a fan. The only problem is coming here after work and not taking Neko, because Redwood's trails are very dog-friendly. You can have your dog off leash! Yay Redwood!

Redwood's trails alternate between exposed ridge and shady, um, well, redwoods that line the stream running along the floor of the canyon. This means that it is impossible to run in Redwood without doing some hills. Fortunately, the hills are almost entirely runnable. The French trail definitely gets steep in sections, but the steepness is short--this is no Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, the parking lot is at the top of the ridge. This means that every trail in Redwood ends with uphill of some sort. The East Ridge trail never gets steep enough that you would feel truly justified in walking, but every time I run it, I spend the last 3/4 of a mile thinking, "Where is the f*****ng parking lot??"

The West Ridge trail heads right from the Skyline Gate parking lot and gently winds downhill for 3 1/2 miles or so, at which point it drops into the canyon. Having read a discussion on techniques for running downhill today, I was practicing my technique for Ohlone. Look ahead, stay relaxed, lean forward and not back, let yourself go, pick your feet up behind you, be light on your feet-- it was
a little overwhelming and I do not feel anyone would have mistaken me for a mountain goat today. (Honestly, I hope that
I would never be mistaken for a mountain goat-- I like to
flatter myself that I am cuter and I smell better... except for maybe after Ohlone...)

West Ridge ends at Stream in the bottom of the canyon, where the shade keeps the flora green all year; springtime is even more extreme, and small blue flowers illuminate the shade from the trees.

We even saw some fauna today-- a deer and this rather large banana slug. (Does a slug count as fauna?)
We took Canyon trail up to East Ridge. Canyon has become a quiet time for Alex and me. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Canyon is a no-talking time for Alex and me, because the sound of us sucking air is anything but quiet.
Anyway, this is a great midweek run, and will probably make me even more sad when daylight savings time ends and I cannot run in Redwood after work.

I will end with a picture of one of my favorite plants. This is sticky monkey flower,
and it grows all over California. It reminds me of hiking with my parents in Santa Barbara and backpacking when I was growing up. I learned today that the Miwok used the roots to treat fever and dysentery, and the leaves to treat sores and burns. Great example of form meeting function...

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