Hike: Portola Redwoods State Park
La Honda, San Mateo County

Hike along Old Tree Trail,
Slate Creek Trail, Camp Trail
Sunday, July 1, 2012

By Peter Y. Chou

Preface: Thanks to a $100,000 donation, Portola Redwoods State Park that was set to close on July 1, 2012 will be open for another year (San Jose Mercury News). My friend and I hiked here on June 10 (Iverson Trail to Tiptoe Falls and Sequoia Nature Trail) and June 17 (Service Road, Iverson Trail, Portola Trail to Fall Creek Falls, Butano Loop Ridge, Pomponio Trail). Today, we ventured on the Old Tree Trail with its abundance of giant redwoods. There were many redwoods with goosepens at their base, hollowed out by fire, but the top of the tree is still thriving. These openings are so large that, in earlier days, settlers in the West could corral their livestock in them, thus giving the goosepens their name. Because the goosepen is shaped like an upside-down "V", it resembles the Greek letter Λ, that Plato described as "Soul of the Universe" (Platonic Lambda) in his book on cosmology (Timaeus 35b). We began our hike at 2:15 pm and spent two hours along the Old Tree Trail taking 55 photos. At the end of trail was the Old Tree standing 280 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 1200 years old (Coast Redwoods Info). At 4:15 pm, we ascended the steep hill to the narrow Slate Creek Trail. The highlight on this trail, was a giant redwood Burl that looked like a monster's head near the base. These are wart-like protuberances from which redwood shoots may be sprouting. Around 5 pm, we met Steve and Zane Moore (father and son) who had hiked since 5:30 am around Portola Redwoods State Park. They had a laser beam instrument to measure the tall coastal redwoods, and informed us that the Old Tree is now 305.38 feet tall and 14.61 feet wide. It grew two feet since two years ago. Zane had a Nisene Marks State Park T-shirt on, and told us the Advocate Tree there was 254 feet tall and 12.4 feet wide. I recalled the visit there on September 6, 2009 of that gigantic redwood (photo). We chatted for 20 minutes and exchanged emails. My friend said it's too late to complete the Slate Creek Trail Loop, so we headed back on the Camp Trail. We met Audrey Stapleton, an Interpreter at Portola Redwoods near the Parking Lot. She tells stories to children at the Camp Sites, and we told her the new data on the Old Tree that Steve and Zane Moore measured recently. We left the park at 6:30 pm driving under heavy fog. Some memorable scenes on the road include Vista of Fog Sea, Fog Banks, and Sunflare & Foggy Snow Hills. On the trip to the Park, we saw a jack rabbit running and a coyote walking slowly by, but it was too late to snap photos of them. On the trip home, I was lucky to photograph four wild turkeys (photos 1, 2) as well as a deer on and off the road (photos 1, 2). Below are 124 photos of our adventure.

View of Mindego Hill from Car

View of Hills from Car

Sculpture Trunk in Parking Lot

Road Entering Portola Redwoods

"Face Cloud" Over Trees

Splinted Tree to the Sky

Goosepen Tree near Entrance

Goosepen Tree near Entrance

"Platonic Lambda" Redwood

Inside Goosepen View

Tree Outside of Goosepen

Peter in Goosepen Redwood

Top of Goosepen Redwood

Old Tree Trail Sign

Graceful Tan Oak Tree

Bottom of Twin Redwoods

Top of Twin Redwoods

"Tuning Fork" Tan Oak

Towering Redwoods to Clouds

Redwood Community Info Board

Fallen Giant Redwood by Trail

Root of Fallen Redwood by Trail

Giant Redwoods to the Sky

Goosepen Redwood Tree

Goosepen Between Trees

Side View of Goosepen

Secrets of Survival Info Board

Footbridge Over Dried Creek

"X Marks the Spot" Trees

Mystery of Moisture Info Board

Arch Tree on Old Tree Trail

Tall Redwoods to the Sky

Peter at Goosepen Redwood

Base of Goosepen Redwood

Top of Goosepen Redwood

Old Tree Trail

Radical Reproduction Info Board

Goosepen Redwood Tree

Bottom of Giant Redwood

"Head" Image in Trunk

Moss in Dried Creek

View Down Dried Creek

"Three Witches" Redwoods

"Regal" Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood Tree

Goosepen Redwood to Sky

Three Redwoods in One

Cluster of Giant Redwoods

Root of Fallen Redwood

Root of Fallen Redwood

Bottom of Giant Redwood

Middle of Giant Redwood

Top of Giant Redwood

Giant Redwoods Linked

"Giant Bird Beak" Trunk

"Bird Beak" Trunk Amidst Logs

Bottom of 1200 Years Old Tree

"Giant Bird Beak" Trunk

Bottom of Old Tree

Middle of Old Tree

Top of Old Tree (305 feet)

Coast Redwoods Info Board

Seat in Old Tree

"Cave" Behind Old Tree

Backside of Old Tree

Sign to Slate Creek Trail

Uphill to Slate Creek Trail

Stairs Up Slate Creek Trail

Otto & Herta Kornei Memorial Grove

Samuel & Edith Coombs Grove

Goosepen on Slate Creek Trail

Hole in Trunk on Trail

Downhill Descent Left of Trail

Harold & Beatrice Putnam Memorial Grove

Narrow Slate Creek Trail (1)

Stepping Stones Slate Creek Trail

Fence on Slate Creek Trail

Arch Tree Downhill

Arch Tree on Slate Creek Trail

Cutaway Log on Slate Creek Trail

Redwood Slice on Slate Creek Trail

Sloping Hill Slate Creek Trail

"Figure 10" Logs at Trail Bend

Goosepen Redwood

Twin Redwoods Midsection

Cut Logs near Trail Bend

Twin Redwoods to Sky

Burl Head Frontal Closeup

Goosepen Redwood on Trail

Burl Head on Redwood

Burl Head Closeup

Burl Redwood to the Sky

Fallen Redwood Splints

Goosepen Redwood

Trail Camp Sign

Many Arms Tan Oak

Burl Head Through the Trees

"Throne" Redwood Stump

Giant Fallen Redwood

Many Holes at Redwood Base

Many Holes Redwood to Sky

Three Goosepens To Sky

Many Holes Redwood

Bent Tree Entering Trail Camp

Three Goosepen Exits

Two Roads to Trail Camp

Wild Turkeys from Car

Three Wild Turkeys on Roadside

Fog & Flowers on Portola State Park Road

Fog on Portola State Park Road

Foggy Road from Car Window

Misty Tree in Fog on Alpine Road

Fog at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Monte Bello Fog & Sun (1)

Lizard on Monte Bello Fence

Monte Bello Sun & Fog

Fence and Sea of Fog (1)

Fog Cloud at Road Bend

Sun, Fog, Trees, Fence (1)

Vista Sea of Fog

Fog Bank from Page Mill Road

Sunflare & Fog Bank on Road (1, 2)

Deer on Page Mill Road

Deer off Page Mill Road

— Photographs by Peter Y. Chou, July 1, 2012

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