National Park Series 3: Muir Woods, Northern California


A Walk in the Woods with Keats

The last time I visited Muir Woods, I hiked the Dipsea towards the summit and descended the equivalent of 680 steps to Stinson Beach. I also complained about not being able to take pictures with my phone camera. Click on the link for the story: http://www.greencaviartravelblog.com/search/label/Dipsea

On a recent visit,  I wanted to  retrace my steps from that Dipsea hike, but few minutes after our ascent, I was gasping for breath.   I was not in shape, perhaps from months of continued traveling and not having a daily workout routine. When my lungs finally calmed I saw the place, literally and figuratively, in a new light. The hike became a meandering in the woods.  We took lots of pictures and completed a five-mile hike looping from Dipsea Trail to Ben Johnson Trail to Muir Woods visitor entrance.
Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
Thee must I praise above all other glories
That smile us on to tell delightful stories.
For what has made the sage or poet write
But the fair paradise of Nature's light?

There was wide wand'ring for the greediest eye,
To peer about upon variety;
Far round the horizon's crystal air to skim,
And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;
To picture out the quaint, and curious bending
Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;
The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping
Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.

A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:
For not the faintest motion could be seen
Of all the shades that slanted o'er the green.

Full of sweet desolation--balmy pain.
What first inspired a bard of old to sing
Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
For great Apollo bids
That in these days your praises should be sung
On many harps, which he has lately strung;
And when again your dewiness he kisses,
Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:

A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;
And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,
And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them
Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,
That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.

A filbert hedge with
wild briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine
taking the soft wind



Upon their summer thrones; there too should be
The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,
That with a score of light green brethen shoots
From the quaint mossiness of aged roots
What next? A tuft of evening primroses,
O'er which the mind may hover till it dozes;
O'er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
But that 'tis ever startled by the leap
Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting
Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;

So I straightway began to pluck a posey
Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

Was there a Poet born?--but now no more,
My wand'ring spirit must no further soar.--

NOTES:
  • Photos by Nancy O. De la Cruz
  • Photo Captions:  Excerpt from "I Stood Tip-Toe Upon a Little Hill" by John Keats.
  •  Muir Woods National Monument is a part of the National Park Service on the Pacific coast of southwestern Marin County, California, 12 miles north of San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.   For additional info check out their website: http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm  

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