Over 500 miles of trails

Someone said that there are over 500 miles of trails in Marin County. I'm going to hike all of them. Want to hear more? Read on...

Location: Woodacre, California, United States

Well, I hike, obviously. I read, without retaining, lots of stuff but mostly classic and contemporary fiction, history, and science. I look at birds and plants. I play my guitar far less than I ought, and watch movies far more. I like to ask people questions, but only if they ask me questions in return. I aspire to honorable behavior and am mostly successful. I'm on the cusp of a career change, with bird research in my past/present and academic librarianship in my future. Occasionally I bust out and cook six course gourmet meals for my friends; for some reason it's always six and never seven or five. Enough about me. What about you? Stranger or friend, drop me a line!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I went hiking today. But I'm still not caught up on back hikes so first I'll tell you about the hike I did on Thursday, January 19, 2006. This was another Thursday afternoon shuttle hike courtesy of the magnificent Victor. He dropped me off at the Coast Trailhead near the youth hostel at Point Reyes National Seashore at 1:15pm, with the arrangement that he would pick me up at the Bear Valley trailhead at 5:30. I hiked down the Coast trail to (strangely) the coast, stopping along the way to marvel at a large group of Townsend's warblers gleaning on a newly-flowering tree in the riparian area that I was paralleling. I also encountered a great blue heron that was reluctant to leave the drainage ditch next to the trail, and so kept jumping ahead of me by a few yards until he was finally convinced of the futility of this effort and departed for more peaceful waters.

I hiked along the coast on the Coast trail for about 3.5 miles, atop bluffs of 20-50 feet overlooking the ocean. I kept my eye out for whales, since it's that time of year, but no luck. I kept encountering other solo female hikers, which made me feel good... I don't know why, exactly. Rested at a picnic area that had a large group of California quail that appeared quite used to humans, though they scattered when one of the omnipresent soaring turkey vultures imitated a falcon and briefly went into a stoop. Continuing onward, I reached the junction of the Coast and Woodward trails, and started upward. The Woodward trail is a bit steep... I think I climbed around 1200 feet in 1.8 miles, and most of that was in the first mile or so. But it's a great trail- it might be my new favorite. As you switchback across the hillside, you earn ever wider views of Chimney Rock to the northwest and Sculptured Beach to the southeast. Eventually, the trail brings you into a recently burned area... I'm not sure if it was burned at the same time as the Mt. Vision fire or not... it's not super close to the Mt. Vision area. The burned area was very picturesque, with stark black skeletons of trees standing out against burgeoning greenery. Woodward Trail dumps you out at Sky Trail. I had been on this segment of Sky Trail last week, so as far as my goal went it was a waste of a mile or so. I didn't particularly care. Took the Wittenburg trail and realized, by the sun, that once again I was way early for meeting Victor at the visitor center. So I relaxed for a bit at the junction of Wittenburg and Z Ranch trails and plotted future hikes with my book and map.

The Wittenburg trail back down to the Bear Valley trailhead was nice... nothing spectacular, just more of your good, basic, hilly Doug fir/ bay forest terrain. But this was fun... I encountered a couple having a domestic squabble coming up the trail. They were audible a good 100 yards away, or so, and didn't realize I was there until they had nearly bumped into me. The woman was screaming at the man that he never supported her, that she wanted to hike alone, and that she needed an IPod. Wheeeee! It's always gratifying to encounter evidence that supports my general impression that the rest of the world is more screwed up than myself. At least they had the grace to look embarrassed when they registered my presence.

For balance, I met a wise-seeming, calm, interesting older man as I was coming into the visitor center parking lot and we chatted briefly. He's been hiking in Marin since the early 80's and I think he was slightly amused by my notion of hiking all the trails in Marin County, but was encouraging nonetheless. Perhaps I'll see him again on some other hike.

Victor picked me up and that was the end of a quite satisfying hike. I think it was just shy of 9 miles, all told.


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