Goose-pen in Advocate Tree
Forest Nisene, Aptos
Chapter 3:

in Redwoods
Shaped Like
Platonic Lambda Λ

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Goosepen in Redwood
Portola Redwoods, La Honda

Preface: The word "Goosepen" is not cited in the American Heritage Dictionary or Random House Unabridged Webster Dictionary. Consulted the 20 volumes Oxford English Dictionary at the Los Altos Library, and in Volume VI, page 685, found "goose-pen" under "goose". Definition: (a) a pen or enclosure for geese; (b) a quill pen. Usage: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (1601), III.ii.48: "Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou write with a goose-pen." (OED Online). Hoped OED will cite the first usage of "goosepen", but they referred to the quill pen rather than the cavity at the base of Redwoods. Interesting that Robert Van Pelt's "Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast" (2001) does not mention "Goosepen" in his book, even though photos show giant "fire scar" in the Ishi Giant, Franklin, Stagg, and Lincoln Sequoias. Since goosepens were created by forest fires, have not seen any of them in the Redwoods on streets during my neighborhood walks. Found 79 Goosepen photos during my Nature Hikes (2008-2012) and am sharing 69 of them below.

Melissa Breyer has an interesting web page (8-29-2017) "11 facts about coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world' (1) that's worth reading. Fact #6: Redwoods are so big that when scarred by fire, cavities can form that are large enough to once be used to house geese by settlers. To this day, the scar caves are called "goose-pens". Mario Vaden has a more extensive write-up "What is a Redwood Goosepen?" (2013): "Goosepens are openings or hollow areas in coast redwood trunks, typically caused by damage, decay and forest fire. Years ago, early settlers could keep geese or other fowl in these openings. These wooden caves were large enough for horses or goats. It's a good shelter for black bears also." (2). He shows a photo of the Church Redwood with a giant Goosepen near the edge of Crescent City, CA (3). He also cites Don McLellan, the Goosepen Hermit, where there's a more extensive story at Hermitary "Don McLellan, Humboldt Hermit" (2007): "Evelyn McCormick in her book Living with the Giants (1984), says "Don McLellan arrived unannounced in late 1958 or early 1959. He resided alone for about a year in a redwood goosepen... The inner circumference of the goosepen was large enough for McLellan to house a wood stove, a few shelves and necessary utensils as well as provisions. This ingenious hermit found that what his new home lacked in girth, it furnished in height. He constructed second & third stories above
his kitchen. He fashioned a mattress of straw for his second floor bedroom and kept some of his belongings on the third floor. His
stove was completed with a curved chimney which forced smoke through a wide crack & beyond the bark outdoors. His tree house
was completely within the tree itself." This sounds like the hermit in French fairy tale "Princess Rossette" lived: "The queen heard
that in a great forest near the castle there was an old hermit, who lived in a hollow tree, and that people came from far and near to consult him." Traced the author to be Madame d'Aulnoy (1651-1705). Her Les Contes des Fées (Fairy Tales) was published in 1697.
So this date may be first to mention someone living in a hollow tree, though the word "Goosepen" was not cited. In Redwood Facts (Humboldt: California's Redwood Coast), we find "Goose Pens are where the base of a redwood has been 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." (4). Arthur Conan Doyle, the Sherlock Holmes author, writes in "Our Second American Adventure" (1924) about his visit to Muir Woods: "All words are futile to describe the tremendous majesty of the great redwoods,
and mere figures such as 300 feet as their height, or the fact tht a hollow trunk can contain 36 people, leave the imagination cold.
One has to be alone to get the true impression, the deep silence of the grove, the shadowy religious light, the tremendous majesty
of red columns, the vistas between them, the solemn subconscious effect produced by their 2000 years of age. There are no insects
in their bark, and nothing, not even fire, can destroy them. We saw scars of old brushfires upon their flanks" (5). These "fire scars"
are no doubt "goosepens" Doyle witnessed in Muir Woods. In The Redwood Forest (2000), Reed F. Noss writes "redwoods are
burned out to create goose pens." (6). In Welcome to Redwood National and State Parks (2007), M.J. Cosson writes "The bark
on a redwood can be one foot thick. Fire can scar a redwood, however. The resulting hollow area is called a goose pen, because
in the past, settlers kept chickens and geese there." (7). Six citings of goosepens were found in Barbour's Coast Redwood (2001):
"The term goosepen originated with pioneers who built gates across tese tree hollows, using them as pens for geese or other small livestock. Goosepens range from small, cramped openings to large enclosures that extend more than 100 feet upward inside the bole. (One goosepen in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was able to hold 109 fourth-grade students!) Since they only develop in large, fire-scarred trees, goosepens are generally restricted to old growth stands." (p. 47) "Goosepens are highly coveted den sites, and the longevity of a redwood tree ensures they can serve as dens for many generations. Bears may pick these sites for winter cover and breeding. They may even end up sharing a goosepen with a maternity colony of bats containing hundreds of females & their young." (p.71) "On their first outing (1900) to Big Basin, Sempervirens Club members led by Andrew P. Hill, cluster in a goosepen." (p. 129).
Steve Norman's article on "Fire Cavities in Coast Redwood" (2009) classifies five types of cavities. Extensive burnouts perforating
both sides of the tree (type 5) are highly vulnerable to collapse (9).
(1) Melissa Breyer,
(2) Mario Vaden,
(3) The Webmavens,
(4) Eureka-Humboldt,
(5) Peter Johnstone, Giants in the Earth (2001), p. 221 (citing Arthur Conan Doyle)
(6) Reed F. Noss, The Redwood Forest (2000), p. 114
(7) M.J. Cosson, Welcome to Redwood National and State Parks (2007), p. 16
(8) Michael G. Barbour, et. al., Coast Redwood: A Natural & Cultural History (2001), pp. 47, 71, 149.
(9) Steve Norman, "Fire Cavities",

Encounter with Redwood Goosepens on Nature Hikes (2008-2012)

  Goosepen in Old-Growth Redwood at El Corte de Madera Creek, San Mateo County, CA (9-7-2008)

Old-Growth Redwood

Redwood with Goosepen

Goosepen of Old-Growth Redwood

Standing in Front of Redwood Goosepen

On September 7, 2008, my friend drove to Skyline Boulevard by Bear Gulch Road where we went on a hike at El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. There is an Old Growth Redwood in the Timberview Trail that's so tall, its top can't be seen unless one is afar. Its circumference is 50 feet at the base. Above photo shows Platonic Λ-shaped goosepen at this Redwood's bottom. The photo of me standing in front of the Goosepen hints that it's about 7 feet tall. Just noticed my legs form the Platonic Λ much like the goosepen.

  Goosepen in Advocate Tree, Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos, CA (9-6-2009)

Advocate Tree, Marcel's Forest

Advocate Tree's Goosepen

Inside Advocate Tree Looking Out

Advocate Tree's Mandorla

Our hike on the Old Growth Loop at Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos, on Sept. 6, 2009, took almost five hours (1:55-6:45 pm). The epicenter of the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was in this park. The hike's highlight was the Advocate Tree in Marcel's Forest that's 253 feet tall, 45 feet in circumference and over a millenium years old. The Goosepen was 18 feet high. When inside the Advocate Tree's Goosepen, and looking outward, felt as if I was in a cathedral. Such is the reverence we had for this Redwood giant that we stayed 30 minutes admiring it. Wrote a poem "The Advocate Tree" when it fell during the January 16, 2017 rainstorm.

  Goosepen in Oldest Redwood at Memorial Park, San Mateo County, CA (8-16-2009, 8-30-2009, 9-13-2009)

Memorial Park's Oldest & Tallest Tree

Goosepen on Creek Trail (8-16-2009)

Goosepen on Creek Trail (8-16-2009)

Goosepen on Creek Traild (8-16-2009)

Hiked at San Mateo Memorial Park five times during the summer of 2009. Acquired by the County in 1924, this park is dedicated to the San Mateo County servicemen who died in World War I. We began hiking at Wurr Road bridge to the 1.5 mile Creek Trail that meandered along Pescadero Creek. With a constant view of the babbling creek and overlaying canopy of trees growing above, it is one of the most scenic trails I've been on. Near the Old Swimming Hole, there is the largest and oldest Tree, a towering Redwood, that is 1600 years old, 225 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter, snd 39 feet in circumference. Unfortunately, this oldest tree does not have a goosepen. Shown here are 7 Redwood Goosepens on the Creek Trail (8-16), Sequoia Trail (8-30) and Mt. Ellen Nature Trail (9-13).

Goosepen in Left Redwood
Sequoia Flat Trail (8-30-2009)

Goosepen on Sequoia Trail
Memorial Park (8-30-2009)

Goosepen on Homestead Trail
Memorial Park (8-30-2009)

2 Goosepens on Mt. Ellen Nature Trail
Memorial Park (9-13-2009)

  Goosepen Methuselah Tree at Skyline Boulevard, CA (9-27-2009) & Goosepens at Muir Woods, San Francisco (11-21-2009)

Methuselah Goosepen (9-27-2009)

Goosepen in Muir Woods Station 9 (11-21-2009)

Goosepen Tree, Bohemian Grove, Muir Woods (11-21-2009)

Methuselah Tree Goosepen
El Corte de Madera Creek
• On September 27, 2009, my friend Connie took me to the Methuselah Tree on Skyline Boulevard. This Methuselah Tree— 14 feet wide, 225 feet tall, 1800 years old, seems larger than the other giants. Justin Garland, Redwoods Program Manager has written "The Story of An Old-Growth Redwood" on the Methuselah Tree, outlining its history from 217 AD to the present. Outside the trees in Big Basin State Park, the Methuselah is the oldest and largest living tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. • On November 21, 2009, my Columbia college friend Richard Hanauer & his wife Arlene from Furlong, PA came for a visit. They took me to Muir Woods National Monument, which I've not seen since 1976. On January 9, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared Muir Woods, named after John Muir, a National Monument. This 554 acres in Marin County is an old-growth coastal redwood forest. Since it's near to the Pacific Ocean, the forest is shrouded in a coastal marine layer fog, contributing to a wet environment that encourages vigorous growth. The tallest tree in the Muir Woods is 258 feet tall. Most of the redwoods in Muir Woods are between 500 and 800 years old. The oldest is at least 1,200 years old. Walking through Cathedral Grove on the Cathedral Trail, came to Station 9— my first sighting of Redwood Goosepen in Muir Woods. Second view of Redwood Goosepen was in the Bohemian Grove. Infoboard tells about a 70-foot high Buddha at their 1892 meeting. Modern meetings are held at 20601 Bohemian Ave, Monte Rio, CA.

  Redwood Goosepens at North Leaf Trail, CA (8-22-2010) & Purisima Creek Grabtown Gulch Trail (9-6-2010)

North Leaf Trail (8-22-2010)
El Corte de Madera, San Mateo

Goosepen Stump
Purisima Creek (9-6-2010)

Double Goosepen Trunk
Purisima Creek (9-6-2010)

Goosepen Redwood to Sky
Purisima Creek (9-6-2010)

Giant Goosepen Trunk (9-6-2010)
Purisma Creek, Grabtown Gulch Trail
• On August 22, 2010, we went hiking at El Corte de Madera via the North Leaf Trail in San Mateo. Encountered two Goosepen Redwoods during the hike. Other highlights include Platonic Lambda Redwood to the Sky, Lambda-Shaped Logs, and Platonic Lambda Redwood. • On Labor Day, September 6, 2010, my friend drove on Tunitas Creek Road, to Purisima Creek Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We walked on the Grabtown Gulch Trail and saw six Redwood Goosepens.
Double Goosepens
Purisima Creek (9-6-2010)

  Goosepens in Portola Redwoods State Park, La Honda, San Mateo County, CA (6-10-2012)

Goosepen Redwood

See-Through Goosepen Redwood

See-Through Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

This is our first hike in Portola Redwoods State Park. The Visitor Center has many stuffed birds and wildlife in glass cases. While I spent ten minutes taking photos of them and the painting of Tiptoe Falls, my friend dragged me away to see the real thing. We began our hike at 2:40 pm on the Iverson Trail so we could visit Tiptoe Falls. Passing the Amphitheatre, we descended some steep stairs downhill to Pescadero Creek. However, there was no bridge across the creek, and the currents were rapid to risk waddling through it. After some time we came to the Iverson Cabin (4:10 pm) and saw a small waterfall nearby. Another hour for us to reach Tiptoe Falls (5:20 pm). At left is photo of 3 Goosepen Redwoods on the Pescedero Creek Trail, with 8 more Goosepens seen on the hike.

Goosepen Redwood

Two Goosepen Redwoods

Three Goosepen Redwoods

Babies Guarding Goosepen

  Goosepens in Portola Redwoods State Park, La Honda, San Mateo County, CA (6-17-2012)

Lambda Λ Image in Bark

"Ghost" Inside Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen in Half Redwood

Burnt Goosepen Redwood

Our second hike in Portola Redwoods State Park. began at 1:10 pm on the Service Road and went down to Pescadero Creek (1:50 pm). The Portola Redwoods Sign (at left) was on Haul Road. The Portola Trail was quite rugged with bikers not permitted. Many logs and branches were strewn around and Portola Trail was unkempt throughout. Took two hours (2:24-4:24 pm) to trudge through this "jungle-like" area. Highlight was Fall Creek Falls during middle of the trail (3:27 pm) after crossing a small footbridge. Butano Loop Ridge Trail took an hour (4:25-5:25 pm) to Bridge Trail. Surprise photo on Bridge showed sun's rays cascading down Pescadero Creek. Hike on Pomponio Trail took an hour (6:14-7:13 pm). Left Park at 8 pm. Three Goosepen photos shown above.

  Goosepens in Portola Redwoods State Park, La Honda, San Mateo County, CA (7-1-2012)

Goosepen at Entrance

Goosepen at Entrance

Platonic Lambda Redwood

Inside Goosepen View

Our third hike at Portola Redwoods was on July 1, 2012, where we saw 19 Goosepen Redwoods.
At end of Old Tree Trail was the Old Tree standing 280 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 1200 years old. Its backside resembled a perfect Platonic Lambda Λ that inspired the poem "Coast Redwood" four months later. (Left: Goosepen on Slate Creek Trail). At 5 pm, we met Steve & Zane Moore (father & son) who had hiked in this Park since 5:30 am. They had a laser beam instrument to measure tall coastal redwoods, and informed us that the Old Tree is now 305.38 feet tall & 14.61 feet wide. It had grown two feet since two years ago. (Right: Three Goosepen Redwood Exits at Trail Camp).

Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwoods

Regal Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

  Goosepens in Portola Redwoods State Park, La Honda, San Mateo County, CA (7-4-2012)

Giant Goosepen Redwood

Platonic Lambda Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

Our fourth hike at Portola Redwoods was on Independence Day, July 4, 2012, where we saw 22 Goosepen Redwoods. Our hike began at 1:30 pm on the Camp Ground Trail to Slate Creek Trail (2:15 pm) and Summit Trail (4:20 pm). After taking 20 goosepens photos on Sunday, added 22 more on today's hike for my Platonic Lambda Λ collection (Trail Between Two Goosepens, Pair of Goosepens, Family of Four Goosepens). There was even a Tan Oak Goosepen on the Summit Trail. (Left Photo: Small Goosepen on Slate Creek Trail).(Right Photo: Two Goosepen Redwoods at Bolton Memorial Grove).

Pair of Goosepen Redwoods

Old Goosepen Redwood

Small Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

Rare Tan Oak Goosepen

Four Goosepen Redwoods on Summit Trail

  Goosepens in Portola Redwoods State Park, La Honda, San Mateo County, CA (7-29-2012)

Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood

Goosepen Redwood Closeup

Goosepen Redwood Closeup

This is our fifth hike in Portola Redwoods State Park. My friend told me to speed up our hike since I need not photograph more Goosepen Redwoods (20 on July 1 and 22 on July 4 for my Platonic Λ collection). Among 12 goosepen photos today, found some Lambda-shaped trunks (left), log, and trees. Near end of our hike, we came
by a Shriners Pyramid near the Amphitheatre. Islam Temple Shrine of San Francisco owned this land & built
the Pyramid & recreation hall in 1924. They sold the 1640 acres forest to California in 1945. The Arabic words inscribed on the Pyramid "Es Selamu Aleikum" mean "Peace Be With You". This is a great blessing for those
who hike here amidst these majestic Portola Redwoods. We left the park at 7 pm with no fog on the road.

Goosepen on Trail

Trail Between Two Goosepen Redwood

Four Goosepen Redwoods on Summit Trail

Lambda Λ Log

While the top of Coast Redwood soars to heaven, the Redwood Goosepen is anchored to Earth. That both shapes resemble the Platonic Lambda Λ— "Soul of the Universe", tells us that even fire cannot destroy the Redwood. No wonder it's called Sequoia Sempervirens— "ever living". Unlike the body that decays and dies, our Soul is eternal. Plato had this insight writing about
the Platonic Lambda (Timaeus 35b). In A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5:1:12 (1595), William Shakespeare writes "The poet's eye... doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven... the poet's pen turns them to shape." As we contemplate on the shape of the Platonic Lambda, during our walks in a Redwood forest, we may glance the Coast Redwood from top to bottom, and experience heaven on earth. Such is the miracle of Nature that we could see here and now.

| Top of Page | Redwoods | Redwoods Hikes | Mountains | Platonic Lambda | Platonic Λ Contents |
| Walks 2018 | Poems 2018 | Haikus 2018 | CPITS | Books | Numbers | Enlightenment |
| Interesting News | Enlightenment News | Poetry News | A-Z Portals | Home |

© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (9-10-2018)