I’m between jobs right now (purposefully) and looking to relax.  As other friends are away at the beach enjoying the sun, I decided to go camping for a weekend.  Mt. Tamalpais (Mt Tam) is a great place to walk among the historic redwoods and is the backyard of San Francisco.

The camping area is drive-in meaning you can bring as much as you want and not have to worry about over packing.  We kept it light with all our loyal REI supplies, especially my favorite which is the Quarter Dome 3 Plus tent.  It’s probably the best tent I’ve ever owned based on our criteria.  The “Plus” is not for us larger Americans but adds an additional 4 inches to the length of the tent, which really helps out for us tall people.

The first day we did a long hike, got lost, got found, and enjoyed a long day-hike in the woods.  One of the more interesting things we came across was this Newt Crossing sign.

I sometimes wonder if anyone what variety of signs exist out there.  My first thoughts were, “how will the drivers see them?”  Newts are rather small and even at 15 miles per hour I don’t see how a car driver could differentiate them from the concrete road.

None the less it was fun to peek out from the trees into this road-side view of the ocean and historic Highway-1.  We drove home over Hwy-1 and remembered why it’s important to drive slow.  The road twists and turns around the edge of the hill in such a way that there is little to no distance between the edge of the road and the cliff.  It is here that the wrong turn does not result in your car crashing into a ditch but reaching terminal velocity before splashing into the ocean.

The newt crossing was just around the bend from, I-kid-you-not-on-the-name, Steep Ravine Environmental Campground.  We didn’t stay here but by the photos you can see this is the place to stay.

I should remind you that in addition to a beautiful landscape and picturesque views, this area is very windy and thus rather cold even during the day.

Ok, back to the woods.

The redwood trees are most widely known for their gigantic size.  If you have not seen these before it’s really something of awe to stand beside a tree that is not only over 1,000 years old but also wider than the length of your car.  There is no doubt these are the king of trees, but what you may not know is that they have almost a personality about them.

Redwoods tend to grow in groups or clusters.  This helps them leverage the shade each brings and secure a more firm base.  If a tree or tree-cluster is blocking the light of another tree it simply grows around them. I’ve seen trees growing at a straight-diagonal or diagonal and then once they reach the light, straight up.

Hiking along Steep Ravine Trail you see many trees that exhibit an extreme resilience.  For example, this photo of me standing on a fallen redwood.  Although only about 25% of the root structure is still in the ground the branches of this tree are already sprouting into full-grown trees.

We saw another fallen tree where the branches had sprouted into even bigger individual trees.  All I could do is stop and think to myself how even with only partial root structure the single fallen tree was supplying water to the entire set of new trees growing out of its branches.

I can’t help but stare in amazement.

I really enjoy camping Mt Tam and will go back over and over.  A few friends have mentioned camping in Salt Lake City, UT which I would really enjoy.  Until then I’ll be camping in the beautiful backyard of San Francisco where there are plenty of new paths to hike and sites to see.  I hope you make it out this way and try some of the great camp grounds in the area.