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!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Arty and I went for a hike in Deer Park this morning. Very nice but it's awfully mountain-bikey there on the weekend. And Arty has this inconvenient characteristic where, if a mountain bike is hurtling downhill toward him and I yell "Come!" he turns and stares up the trail at the approaching mountain biker rather than coming off the trail to me. Consequently, he was on leash for the steep downhill portions of the hike.

We got on the trail a little before 8 this morning; it was still socked in with fog but very pretty. I took the Deer Park trail (off to the left once you get past the school) which climbs a steep, narrow drainage up to Worn Springs Fire Rd., which climbed Bald Hill (1141'). If I had a camera, I could have taken a comical "The view from Bald Hill" picture of the fog that was all around, but since the camera is in Alaska you'll just have to forego that wickedly clever bit of visual humor. Actually, I could see a bit off in the direction of the Bay, and I could tell that the views of the Bay and Mt. Tam must be really amazing on a clear day. Other trails lead to the top of Bald Hill as well so I'll be back again. From there I continued on down Worn Springs Rd. to Phoenix Lake, where I skirted the lake for a half-mile or so. The Phoenix Lake area was crazy busy with people, including one guy who was simultaneously fly-fishing and talking very loudly on his hands-free cell phone. His voice literally echoed across the lake, and when I say literally I literally mean literally as opposed to some folks who say literally and really mean figuratively (Wow- when you type literally that many times it starts to look really weird). Anyway, it was gross. I can't wait till I'm working part time again and can hike on weekdays. From there I continued up Shaver Grade to the Five Points Junction, where I picked up the Deer Park Fire Road back down to the trailhead. It was around a six mile hike with a good variety of habitats and some good ups and downs.

It was a nice day for good naked-eye looks at birds. I saw two horned larks on the top of the hill; I don't know if they're common around here or not but they were quite mellow. The Deer Park Trail up the canyon yielded a warbling vireo. Because the canyon was quite steep, the bird was at eye level with the trail even though he was in the treetop. And, there was a spotted towhee that just sat and sang in a shrub for around 5 minutes while I watched. This lack of a camera is becoming an issue... I could have gotten great shots of any one of these birds that I could have shown you instead of stealing other people's. Of course, Victor will have far more stirring and interesting photo ops in Alaska. But I'm seriously considering picking up a little point-n-shoot for myself that I can keep in my jacket pocket.

What else? I was thinking today about how inconvenient it is that I can't hike and blog simultaneously. I think when I'm hiking my brain is stimulated by all those good exercise endorphins and the ideas just pour forth, and I think, "Yeah! I should write about that!". But once those endorphins subside and I'm all sleepy with a bowl of pasta in me and I'm in front of the computer the stream dries up. Oh well. It's just another form of chemical alteration anyway, and wouldn't you rather have the 'real' me (because clearly the sleepy pasta-full me is much closer to my true essence than the hopped up on endorphins me)?

I just had an idea. I could get a hands-free device and blog, really loudly, as I hike. -Kelly


Blogger AphotoAday said...

Hi Kelly,
Oh yeah, Deer Park... It's been a long time since I've done the short loop, or continued on to 5 Points and beyond to the lake...
You sort of remind me of the British lady who used to live above me... She was always going off for hikes at Deer Park and Cascade Canyon, and she would always take her dog and two other neighborhood dogs with her... I would occasionally hike with her, but she could hike circles around me... Now, about 10 years later I've completely lost touch with her, but she left me with Kitty, so her legacy continues...
Oh yeah, people and cellphones... I just don't get it... I guess they might be a good idea for safety, but when I see people out in the wilds talking on one I just can't figure it out... I always wonder who in the heck they're talking to, and if what they're talking about is really all that important... Anyway, it's probably none of my business...
So, keep up reporting these great hikes, Kelly... Hearing about the birds, from an expert, is interesting too... One of my goals in life is to learn all of their names...
Best regards, Don and Kitty

9:40 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Hi Don!

I guess I should clarify my stance on cellphones... I don't really object to them in general (it would be tough, since about 70% of the people that are important to me have them, and I certainly concede that they are a convenience). I just think the cell phone has given rise to opportunities for already inconsiderate people to express their inconsiderateness on a new canvas. When I see people talking in the wilderness, my reaction is similar to yours... I don't necessarily get it, but it's none of my business either. But when I'm hiking and can hear someone's inane but lengthy conversation clear across the lake, then I get irritated. But, to be entirely fair, I recognize that Phoenix lake on a Saturday morning probably isn't the best place to seek solitude and quiet, either. If I hadn't gotten pissed off at the cell phone guy I probably would have gotten pissed off at all the damn joggers and bikers. I'm just a curmudgeon, I guess.

That's funny that I remind you of your British friend. I'm about to go have a cup of tea, too. Jolly good, then, old chap! -Kelly

3:59 PM  
Blogger Artful Monkey said...

Kelly, Your frustration with 'can't blog while hiking' is interesting I think, and maybe it relates to the cell phone dialogue above. When I was in college a creative writing teacher told me to always carry a notebook to record those fleeting thoughts that would otherwise listlessly drift out into the universe (I'm paraphrasing), otherwise forgotten, never to be used, unless they were written down in ink. Because I am a contrary person, I immediately found an argument otherwise: I reasoned that my thoughts needed a certain period of fermentation before they were worthy of recording, that there needed to be some period when the ideas and images, sights sounds and contemplations needed to blend together into kind of a stew. All this apart from the conscious ordering and listing of direct observation. To what use, I argued, could I put my immediate impressions, raw data, flowing from my head like a cash register tape? And not only to what use, but what harm might I do to the destinies of those thoughts with a premature tearing off of the tape?

Cell phones - maybe the lure for some people to use them in what we might think of as 'inappropriate' places, in the woods or on a mountain, is an attempt to connect with another person and relay the grandeur of a place. What is frustrating about describing an experience over the phone, or in any way immediately after or while it happens, I think, is that the story can never be told in a way that completely captures the experience. And maybe the real kernel of the story lies not in the listing of observation (23 prairie dogs, 3 Bonneville cutthroat trout, 1 shady Thunder Basin cottonwood, 23 degrees C), but in a complex landscape of stories that need processing time, connections, and nodes of understanding.

With that said, I now carry a notebook, just in case I'm wrong!

9:48 AM  

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