In the cloud forests of Monteverde in Costa Rica, I love watching the swirling ballet of clouds dance in the wind from the bay window of our rental house. The rain drops making staccato rhythms on the windows and the roof. Roaring gusts of wind throwing out handfuls of leaves like rice at a wedding. Each crescendo moves the waves of clouds forward to collide into the clouds surging in the opposite direction. The winds from the Caribbean and the Pacific recreate their tossing waves in the clouds. I love exploring the forest as we make our way through a network of suspended bridges.An ancient tree that looked like a giant has braided it with slender ficus plants. This tree has fallen victim to the famed strangler ficus. The strangler ficus wraps around the host tree, slowly smothering it until the tree inside dies, creating a hollow interior. This tree had been fitted with footholds and a rope creating a natural ladder to the canopy bridge above. We climb the tree ladder one at a time to emerge above the forest. The view from the top is “pure vida.”
When I miss the beautiful lush cloud forests of Costa Rica, I head to Mount Sutro Forest, a cloud forest located in the heart of San Francisco. On a foggy day, Mount Sutro Forest gives its best cloud forest impression wrapping the tops of its 100 foot high trees in wispy white mist and coating its green foliage in thick dew. This dense green forest of tranquility is just blocks above the hippy haven of Haight Ashbury. You can find the trail head at the corner of 17th Street and Stanyan Street.You may be in the heart of San Francisco, but as you hike the switch backs, you will feel like you have been transported to paradise. Bring waterproof shoes and rain gear as it does get wet.