Tuesday’s are meant to be special. We all have things going on. Some of those things are quite a bit harder than other things. Some people are going through harder things than other people. Life is hard. Unfortunately, that’s the truth of the matter. Stress affects different people in different ways. Some people deal with it differently than others.

“Train roll on many miles from my home,
See, I’m riding my blues away.
Tuesday, you see, she had to be free
But somehow I’ve got to carry on.” — Lynyrd Skynyrd

I prefer to lose myself. Sometimes I get lost in writing, or reading. Some times, it’s painting. Sometimes I want to binge watch a show, or a series of movies. Sometimes, I go for a drive to nowhere and anywhere. Today, I just wanted to go outside.

I just wanted to GO.

Almost twenty years ago, when I first visited the Bay Area, I had high school friends with whom I had graduated already living here. A few of us who didn’t decided that we would have a mini-reunion. We walked and hiked Muir Woods. One of them moved to Los Angeles. Another to Tuscon. Another became a professor in Chicago. Another moved to Thailand. That weekend seems like ages ago.

So today, I came back. Muir Woods was teeming with people. This would not be a quiet, serene hike (or so I thought at the time).

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” — John Muir

Once arriving at the gate, things started becoming familiar. Had the trees grown? Very quickly walking along the boardwalk, I came upon a gargantuan redwood.

“This is the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.” — John Muir

Walking to bridge #2, I had to decide which of two trails to take — the Redwood Trail or the Hillside Trail. The Redwood Creek, Bohemian, Hillside Trails Loop was 1.7 miles, taking about an hour. It was mostly flat, with an elevation gain of only 150 feet. The average grade was 4.6%, with a maximum grade of 29.2%. The Hillside, Ben Johnson, and Dipsea Trails Loop was 3.8 miles, generally taking about three hours.The elevation gain was a sneaky 950 feet. The average grade was 10.1% with a maximum grade of 37.2%.

I chose the three-hour Hillside Trail hike. Seven plus miles later, over four hours, getting lost made for an amazing afternoon.

About an hour into my hike once I was on the Ben Johnson Trail, the incline and elevation had forced my breathing into shallow gasps for air. My hips were aching. My feet was hurting. It was time to stop. By that point, there was literally no one around me. The teems of people who were near the entrance had virtually disappeared. The only sounds to accompany the forest was my heavy breathing which soon subsided. It was late afternoon, and save for a chirp here and there as well as the slow and low rustle of a far away wind, it was deathly quiet. If I listened very intently, I could barely make out the sounds of cars driving the winding Panoramic Highway miles away.

I would hike the Hillside Trail to the Ben Johnson, at the end of which I had another choice — to turn left to get myself on the Dipsea Trail or head straight into the Stapelveldt Trail, which would alter my hike drastically. Looking at the steps and the steep incline to lead me to the Dipsea, I opted for the Stapelveldt, which led me to the TCC Trail. By this point, I had hiked four miles including the terrain outside Muir Woods. At the Bootjack Trail intersection, a couple hiking the opposite direction told me it was still another four and a half miles back to the visitor center. It was getting late, and by this point, I was getting tired. So I retraced my steps through switchbacks that were a few minutes ago going higher and higher and now instead going lower and lower. It was significantly faster and easier to get back to the Ben Johnson and Stapelveldt intersection. I was gassed going up the incline to the Dipsea, but I did it. Only 2.4 miles left.

The redwoods were simply spectacular, owning it’s place among the grandest of all trees. It’s amazing to think that redwoods have existed for 150 million years. How could you not feel small, both literally, figuratively and philosophically, in their presence? My communion with them this afternoon made for a spiritual experience. Aside from the red of its bark, the brown of the dirt trails, of course what colour dominated was green. Lots and lots of it, of varying shades because of the diversity of plant life as well as the tricks light was playing upon it.

Soon, I was out in the clearing, walking the rolling green hills of the Dipsea Trail. In the distance, I could easily see the Pacific Ocean, which I had grown to love more and more with my time here the past three years.

It was beautiful.
It was peaceful.
It was why I came here.

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