When I read about the the on the Peninsula, I decided to hike into Mills Canyon wildlife area to photograph and write about the bay and oak trees there.
I entered the park from the northwest side and was greeted by two large, pink flowering bushes and a welcome sign. Just a few minutes later I was in the shade of oak and bay trees, old and young. While listening for the creek sounds, I was distracted by the birds. One sounded like it had a case of the hiccups, another repeated a lovely six-note melody and the caws of the crows echoed in the canyon.
Leaves were scattered on the soft dirt trail, and it became more quiet as I travelled farther down hill next to the creek. I heard a faint gurgle and dripping sounds. Looking closely, I saw trickles of clear running water moving around rocks and roots. Spots of blue sky reflected back to me from the water. Beautiful!
This trail through the woods and along the creek is simply magical, encouraging and inspiring. The trees have created a community with interwoven branches in the sky. An example is the picture of the big leaf maple leaves overlapping and shadowing a young bay tree below. Then, add in all the bushes, wild flowers, ferns and fungi to fill the spaces between the trees and rocks.
A large bay tree on the trail stood tall and straight, but the top of the trunk was broken off about ten feet up. Miraculously two branches grew from the side, wrapping around each other and stretching upward to the light. Filled with leaves, they became the replacement trunk and limbs so the tree could survive.
Internal fortitude was the message I felt from that bay tree. Determination and persistence are the character traits giving strength to turn near death into a full life.
One elder oak supported a still-living fallen tree within its strong branched trunk. Noticing this support, I felt encouraged, knowing I have elders who support me with their wisdom and touch.
Creekside was a moss covered bay with an extensive root system partially exposed. With not enough soil below to support the tree, the trunk curved up over the bank, branched and stretched snake-like on the dirt. Out of the resting trunk, new shoots sprouted with bright green leaves. Here’s an example of making the most out of a potentially life-threatening situation.
The trail curved around bends, some so steep, steps were provided. Then there was the series of serious steps rising out of the gully to the grassy hillside. Breathless from the climb, I stopped to look around. Tree tops fringed the distant San Francisco Bay.
Walking through grassy fields and fragrant sage, I soon arrived at Lookout Point. An inspiring view with an inspiring oak with outstretched arms. From that knoll I was looking down on the canopy of trees I had just experienced and learned from. I breathed in the fresh air and with new strength internal and external I walked confidently back to my car.
I’ll be back there soon, and I encourage others to explore the magical peace in Mills Canyon, too. Another way to enjoy this area is joining a free nature program sponsored by The Friends of Mills Canyon.