Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rocks and Redwoods

Our goal yesterday was to see Castle Rocks State Park. The story we heard is that John Steinbeck and his sister Mary liked to play among the rocks in that park. There is also a rock column there which was the source of inspiration for Steinbeck's Camelot Castle in his book Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. While driving to this park we went past the town of Gilroy. Phew! We have driven past this town a few times now and we always get hit with the strong smell of garlic. It is the garlic capitol of the world, and we are not sure whether the smell comes from the fields of garlic surrounding the area or from the processing plants. Castle Rock Park is located in the Santa Clara Mountains. Monday was supposed to have been one of the better days weather wise to be outside.However we did not take into account that at Castle Rock we would be at a higher elevation. It was cool and damp with low-lying clouds, in other words, wet up there. We took a  short trail which was labeled as "Castle Rock Trail". On that trail we found some rather large boulders but not the tall columns seen by Steinbeck. The picture below gives you an idea of what we did see. The mossy trees and rocks combined with the mist in the air produced a rather eerie effect. It seemed like a perfect setting for Halloween!
And how about this tree which also added to the weird ambiance?
 Anyway, we did not find the particular set of rocks which inspired Steinbeck. We were too wet and cold to pursue another trail which probably would have taken us there. We then drove on to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. There was no further moisture in the air at that lower elevation so it was enjoyable there hiking among the redwoods. California's coast redwood can reach over 300 feet in height and can live more than 2,000 years. We have the Sempervirens Club (California's oldest non-profit land trust) to thank for their protection of the magnificent Big Basin redwoods!
Coast redwoods are experts at survival. One of the trees on the trail is hollow from base to top and yet is still living and growing. The tree pictured below is not that particular tree but it still shows the durability of the redwood.

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