While I was at Muir Woods National Monument this past Wednesday, I sidled up to a ranger giving a talk, hoping to learn more about the Coast Redwoods. At that moment, I noticed a young boy watching me. He was maybe four years old, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He looked at the ranger, looked back at me. His eyes were wide and curious. "You look like the lady [ranger]. Do you talk about trees, too?"
Bending down, I said, "No, but I write about trees." He responded with, "I saw lots of big trees." I nodded, asking him if he liked the park. He walked back to his parents.
I smiled, loving his earnestness. The ranger was wearing a walkie-talkie on her shoulder, a thick belt, and paraphernalia on her shirt. My camera was latched onto my shoulder and my GPS was dangling from a buckle around my waist. We must have looked similar in his eyes.
I listened to the ranger for a few minutes, then trailed away to take notes and pictures. Being among groups of tourists was a new experience for me, and a big difference between hiking the Bay Area (nine counties, 7+ million people) and the Seattle metro area (3 counties, 3.5+ million people). At first I found it unnerving, but then I realized I could learn a lot.
I listened to people's reasons for choosing one trail over another. I heard when they were confused (an unclear trail sign), what they were looking for in a trail (the view, of course), and what they wanted to do when they were done (stop at the cafe for a coffee and snack). And I got to have a sweet interaction with a young boy, which made my day. I realized I could get first-hand information about what people were looking for on a trail, which in turn has the potential to improve my write-ups.
I'm really excited to share with you what I learned about the history and Coast Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. It's a fascinating story and a very special experience. Right now I'm making several trips there to research trails for Modern Hiker, and I'll keep you posted when they're published!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support. :)
Have a great weekend. :)