Family Nature Summits – Let the week begin

First day at Family Nature Summits.

Each day is precious since there are only five days of activities. You want to do everything.

I went on a hike in the Mitteldorf Preserve, a beautiful old growth redwood forest on the Monterey Peninsula. The lollipop hike – 12.5 miles and 2,200 feet of ascent — started in redwoods.

Even though these are not champion trees, the redwoods were huge. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with a redwood tree sticking out of their heads. Dave, our hike leader, had counted the rings on the cut logs and had stopped at about 750 rings.

As we climbed, the trail changed to open grasslands, the kind of grasses that stick to your socks and boots. From the ridge, you could see the world — a patchwork of green trees, dry woods and even the Pacific Ocean. The trails here are steep but smooth. No rocks or roots stick out of the ground.

I learned what poison oak looks like. Same ditty – Leaves of three, let it be. The vine looks like poison ivy, generally. Instead of shining leaves, poison oak has dull green leaves shaped like oak leaves. The poisonous oils are the same as the eastern pest and so are the symptoms. So I let it be and stayed away from the plant.

The area was preserved by the Big Sur Land Trust with money donated by the Mitteldorf family. A modest lodge is at the heart of the property, which is now rented out to honeymooners and vacationers. While I was climbing, huffing and puffing, Lenny was birding and adding to his life list.

Today, second day, I went on a photography hike, starting at 6 am. We climbed over and under tree roots and didn’t stay on an official trail. Meanwhile, Hannah had seen seals and sea lions and could tell the difference between the two of them.

Here she is with her girlfriends.

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