In an attempt to discover pieces of myself that may have been hidden, I decided in the spring of 2014 to explore the obscure destinations of a nearby city, Oakland. Oakland has this reputation of being urban, industrial, and sometimes lifelessly gray, but I knew that the city had more than that to offer. So, after a quick search on the internet and a few consultations with some local officials, I was informed that past the brick walls and cracked sidewalks of the East Bay city existed a mystical escape: a forest of redwoods.
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Despite the forecast of heavy rain predicted for that April morning, I grabbed a waterproof jacket and my brother and headed out to the Redwood Regional Park. Several times during the forty-five minute drive in the almost-blinding downpour I questioned whether the trip would be worth it. Once I passed the urban buildings and navigated through the narrow, windy path, finally arriving at the entrance of the park, my doubts were lifted to the tops of the redwood trees. Even at the start of the trail, the view and atmosphere was breathtaking.
We trekked down a slightly muddy trail and passed neon beds of clover and began our hike up the redwood trail. While I may have cursed the rain when it caused my car to hydroplane an hour earlier, the fresh, misty residue it donated to the forest definitely made up for it. A group of women and their dogs passed by and pointed us toward the most scenic trail; they must have been experts of the forest because I had never seen such ethereal beauty in my life. The dark, earthy tones of the redwoods flirted with the wispy white overlay of fog to create a surreal appearance. At one point in the hike, we were surrounded from all directions by towering trees. A post in the middle of the area outlined the different trails that branched out from that zone. Slightly soaked and out of breath, my brother and I decided to balance across a fallen trunk and make our way back to the entrance.
With our hike almost at its conclusion, we just focused on taking in as much as the environment into our senses. This was when my brother pointed out a small, white mushroom sprouting from the soil. The feeling of awe and wonder already established in us, the little fungus seemed magical at the moment. Small and white, the mushroom juxtaposed with the dark and towering forest in a way that made it seem to glow. I could not help but to take a picture of the dainty but memorable specimen.
Again, I was reminded from this soul-searching adventure of the many layers that comprise all things of the world. Hidden in the industrial city of Oakland was a sanctuary of nature. And among the tall, overpowering redwoods sprouted one lone mushroom. I can only hope to find all of the little mushrooms within myself.
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