Thursday, August 13, 2015

A hike through redwood forests.

Last Saturday, we decided to go on a hike to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a drive about an hour and a half away from where we live. Since I'm pretty unfit right now, I looked up the trails online and decided that we should go on a moderate hike, and steer clear of the strenuous ones.

We drove through some lovely landscapes, most of them looking straight out of an inspirational poster, and reached the headquarters of Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

This is my dream home. Except that it is not exactly a house, but so what.

I don't know whether it was a mistake or whether it was a deliberate move by S--for whom hiking ranks among the top of his favourite activities--but we chose a strenuous hike. And a long one at that.

Anyway, off we went, and--before I start, I must get this out of my system--Redwoods are some of the most magnificent, majestic, grand, awe-inspiring and beautiful creatures that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I have fallen utterly and hopelessly in love with them.

The ones in Big Basin, which btw is the oldest state park in California, are between 1000 and 2500 years old.

So we started walking on the Skyline to the Sea Trail (which goes right up to the sea). We decided to walk up to Berry Creeks waterfalls, 4 miles into the woods, and then walk back. It was an exhilarating walk. A lot of ups and downs, yes, but to walk in foliage that is entirely new is a beautiful experience. And what redwoods forests do is that since they soar high above you and the branches are way up there in the sky, the trees don't seem like they are pressing into you. Only their gorgeous huge trunks are visible all around you, giving you the feeling of walking among large pillars. So the trail continued, and four miles and two hours later, we reached Berry Creek Falls, where we sat down and had our lunch of sandwiches, nuts, trail mix cookies, energy bars and water like any self respecting hiker.

After a while, it was time to decide whether we wanted to go back the same way, or take another trail, the Sunset Trail, that loops around and reaches Park Headquarters. I was the weak link in the chain, and so everybody asked me how I was feeling and whether the ball of my foot was hurting (where I have a chronic ache). It wasn't, and I was game to take the longer looping route back (I was loopy to make that decision, but that I realized only on hindsight).

So we set off again. We walked, seeing banana slugs, and looking out for poison oak though we didn't know what exactly to look out for.

And then after an hour of walking post lunch, my body started protesting. I swear, if I had stood still, I would have heard my muscles screaming. There would be a prolonged upward incline, and then a prolonged downward slope. The former was hard on my calves and the latter was hard on my toes. I walked nevertheless, gritting my teeth, especially at the sight of Puttachi and the others skipping along as if they were in the friendly neighbourhood park.

S found a thick stick for me to use like a hiking stick. So I pretended (in my head) that I was Gandalf (the greying) from LOTR and the stick was my staff, and that helped. Off we walked.

And then, finally, at 4 pm, 6 hours after we had set off on the hike, we came back to the park headquarters. We had walked 10 miles. On one hand I was glad it was over, on the other hand, I was sad that it was over.

I sat on a bench at the headquarters, and I couldn't get up from the bench after ten minutes--it was like every muscle was cramped. If even a small part of my mind had hoped that I would escape from this ordeal lightly, then, this erased that hope from my mind.

We had dinner at downtown Saratoga. Delicious quiche at Big Basin cafĂ©. Before that, we walked around a little around the town (I hobbled). Such a pretty place, so many interesting shops to see. The highlight for me was walking past a fancy restaurant there, which had a real vine with grapes growing on the shopfront.

To cut a long story short, I couldn't walk normally for the next two and a half days. Puttachi didn't help my morale much. When we walked somewhere the next day with  my sister and brother-in-law, Puttachi told them--"You walk ahead. I'll walk with Amma while she waddles up." Well, I guess I should be grateful that she was willing to walk with me at all.

But I can't begin to explain how lovely the hike was. And how beautiful the forest. And I see that this is a total hike-friendly region. I'm all enthused to go on long hikes again. Moderate ones for a while hopefully, and meanwhile, I hope to make myself fitter, so that I'm not laid up for three days after every hike. I'm quite ashamed of myself, actually.

But I'm glad I lived to tell the tale.


Echo said...

First of all I've never heard a hike or redwoods described better; second of all, I didn't realize you were in that much pain :( But remember this, 'tis always the waddle of pride after a strenuous hike, something to be proud of :) Here's to many more (moderate) hikes! (Anu)

Anitha Rao said...

Lovely explanation Shruthi .. And the pictures too

austere said...

Lovely description. Photos awesome.
I trust the next hike will be easier on the feet.
Impressed that the lil one has that word in her vocab.

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