Journey: 52 Hikes and more

Archive for the month “December, 2009”

Hike 17 – Under Cupid’s Spell in San Francisco, November 29, 2009

Early in the morning on the last Sunday of November, I was driving over the Bay Bridge heading towards San Francisco.  The world looked like it was encased in crystal, and I thought how fortunate I was to have picked this day for a friendly saunter through the city.  The sky was blue and the air clear as far as my eyes could see.  Oh yeah, this would be a great hike.

Not surprisingly, my happy and smiling face pulled into the Battery East parking lot near the Golden Gate Bridge.  The time was 8:00 AM and temperature 57 degrees.  Perfect!  My plan today was to walk from the Golden Gate Bridge down to Cupid’s Span along the Embarcadero, and back.  The icing on the cake was that I was only 30 minutes late instead of 2.5 hours late, like the day before when I had hiked the Coastal Trail to Alamere Falls and the “Lake District” in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

Stepping out of the car I noticed the high winds and as a precautionary measure, tightened my hat to prevent it from blowing off.  I also wrapped a jacket over myself because the bridge could get windy and cold.  Now I was ready to re-experience one of my favorite walks in San Francisco.  To keep it interesting, I had made two changes this time around:
1.  Reversed the starting and ending points, and
2.  I was walking on a weekend.  I have done this section on weekdays only.

I was not sure how it would all work out, as crossing the Golden Gate Bridge has always been the highlight of this walk for me, and this time I was covering it first.

The Bridge Cafe

The Bridge Cafe

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Hike 16 – Alamere Falls and the “Lake District,” November 28, 2009

As I gritted my teeth and cut the steering wheel once again harshly to the right, I thought, “Man, if this drive doesn’t end soon, I am going to be in no position to hike today.”  It was a long dizzying ride heading up Highway 1 in Marin County.  With each passing mile, my desire to explore a new trail slipped a notch lower.

I quickly looked at the clock on the radio and calculated how late I was.  On most days, I would be well into the return section of my hike by now, but today I was still experiencing g-forces in a car speeding towards the trailhead.  At 10:45 AM, I pulled into the Palomarin Trailhead parking lot of Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  With regret, I noted that I should have been here at least two and a half hours earlier.

After cutting the engine, I sat in the car for a minute to clear my head and think.  I could call it a lost day, head for a coffee shop and then go home.  The National Weather Service had issued a high wind and high surf advisory for the area and placed it on flood-watch too.  I could always use safety as an excuse and weasel out of the hike.  Or I could continue to sit here until the next course of action calmly came to me.

Suddenly, four cars noisily sped into the lot searching for parking spaces closest to the trailhead.  Yikes!  More company!  Instinctively, I grabbed my daypack and slung it over my shoulders and hit the trail.  A decision had been forced on me.

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Hike 15 – Thanksgiving at Black Diamond Mines, November 26, 2009

On Thanksgiving Day, at 8:40 AM I pulled into the Mt. Diablo To Black Diamond Trail parking lot along Marsh Creek Road in Clayton.  I got here more than an hour later than I wanted to.  But here I was and it looked like a good day to hike.  The thermometer read 49 degrees and the sun was out.  No breeze, just pleasant settings for an appetite-building walk to be followed by a monstrous Thanksgiving meal-of-a-lifetime.

Along the trail

Along the trail

Even before I stepped out of the car, I heard the swish of finely crafted aerodynamic golf clubs slicing through the air, followed by the metallic ping of golf balls struck long distances.  I was near the driving range of the Oakhurst Country Club.  I had hiked here earlier this Spring when the grass was lush and green.  Today it would no doubt look different but I was still looking forward to this trek.

Cows and trees

Cows and trees

My goal was to use the Mt. Diablo To Black Diamond Regional Trail to get to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and make a loop there.  Total distance attempted would be about 12 miles with about 2,000 ft. elevation change.  And if the weather cooperated, the creek didn’t rise, and other positive things happened in my life, I was hoping to hike three of the next four days to make up for lost hikes and the Thanksgiving excess planned for later in the day.

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Hike 14 – Traipsing Around Tennessee Valley, November 21, 2009

Tennessee Beach

Tennessee Beach

After a long drive that involved crossing two bridges and two tunnels, at 10:25 AM I pulled into a very crowded parking lot at the end of Tennessee Valley Road in Marin County.  After some difficulty, I found a spot along the side of the road.  The temperature was 47 degrees and the sky was picture-perfect blue.  A few clouds adorned the sky.

My first destination was the Tennessee Valley Trail to the beach.  From there I would backtrack a bit to pick up the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach.  Then I would turn back and retrace my steps to the car.  For weeks I had been looking forward to this hike.  A few guidebooks had raved about it and mentioned that the Tennessee Valley Trail was very popular with bikers, joggers, horse riders and families.

Tennessee Valley Trail and Beach

Tennessee Valley Trail and Beach

Since it had been a long drive to get here and I was starting the hike late in the morning, I was already feeling hungry.  So, before setting foot on the trail, I had a quick snack and then got going.  Even though guidebooks had mentioned the popularity of this trail, I was surprised by the crowds.  While it was too early to form an opinion, I was not enjoying the congestion.  It had me feeling mobbed and rushed.

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