Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pt. Reyes: Sky Trail!

          At Pt. Reyes National Seashore we go up Sky Trail into deep fog, oaks, and Bishop pine covered with moss and lichen,  boughs like some great shaggy beasts. The path turns terra-cotta and winds through the intense alwaysgreen of a temperate rain forest. Then the march of the magnificent Douglas Firs, trunks upright and straight as Bill's Presbyterian ancestors.

     Fog is mystery as sun is clarity? Or so you think. SOMETHING could loom up out of the swirl, couldn’t it?  There are so many gray mornings where I live. An iron lid of cloud clamped down and soundless, not mythfog but overcast, and not a word from the faithful dawn chorus of birds.  And if fog is more menacing, why have I only seen bear and bobcat in bright light, and that bull charged on a sparkling morning.    

      Out here it is always remembrance vs pioneer. Shall we take a new trail or one we know?  I remember when we took the Ostero trail at midnight with Wally & Julie, to see the owls, Bill refusing to hoot at bare pines. And the time we crossed a bridge over a pond filled with croaking, mating frogs. And the time we walked out the Pierce Point trail with Stan & Nancy. Where it narrows Ocean is on one side, Bay on the other, both visible at once  - one wave-strewn, the other wind-whipped to white cap - but the fog was so deep both were hidden. The visitors had to be told - Bay is there, Ocean there, eyes on trail to keep direction - and it wasn't a dream - though if life were a film this is where the director would have done it - elk emerged, crossed the trail, antlers pierced our recognition. When Stan & Nancy returned to their eastern city, would they tell that tale as if Northern California were the Serengeti? Might the elk become rhinos? Or elegant loping giraffes so close you could see the Sally Rand fans of their eyelashes?    
But this is a new trail. Would it ever stop climbing? How high does it go ?Should we take a side path to Mt. Wittenberg? A swath of fogsilk slinks in from deep in the Pacific and where the hell is Mt. Wittenberg? North? South? 

      It's actually dripping, dropping, drizzling, hair wet, then it swiftly lifts - and the green, the intense green. Chartreuse and lime and jade and pine, especially fine because the California hills have turned to summer-drought straw, beige and tan. I am not Rapunzel, and I have given up trying to spin straw into gold; those hills are not golden, just beige and tan. 

      I grew up in the thunderstruck summer-downpour-greenness of the Midwest, and I stand here in sudden sunlight, at home among the ferns, Bishop pines, bay laurel and Douglas fir that once appeared in a child's dreams of an unknown future.




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