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, June 11, 2006

I'm taking a little hiking break this weekend. Was starting to feel burnt out, and as if I was obliged to hike.

I did hike on Tuesday. Solo (Arty's not allowed in Samuel P. Taylor), to the top of Mt. Barnabe at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. A 'solo ascent of Mt. Barnabe' sounds all impressive, but really it's only 1466' in elev., and it was named after a pet mule, to boot. So really it's no big deal. I took the easy way up, the hard way down. Starting from the pullout across Sir Francis Drake Blvd. from Devil's Gulch, I walked up said gulch to the bridge next to the giant redwood, which was evidently spared whenever the area was logged. The trail intersects here with both the Bill trail and the Barnabe Fire Road. The Bill trail was built to bring one most of the way up Mt. Barnabe at no greater than a 5% grade. So it was a longish (~3 miles) but very mellow climb through bay forest. Along the way you can (and I did) take in Stairstep Falls in a short side-trip. At this time of year it's a little puny, and it just so happens that a tree recently has fallen down the waterfall and become lodged there, blocking to view to a large degree. If you visualize hard enough you can see that it would be an impressive sight, at the right time of year, with no tree.

The way up was pleasantly windy (with a long 'i') and twisty and switchbacky, with the five percent grade making you work *just* enough. Nearing the top, you are unceremoniously dumped upon the Barnabe Fire Road, which has no limits set upon steepness. For the last .5 mi or so to the top of Mt. Barnabe it's a bit of a slog. But the views are worth it. On a rare, perfectly clear day, I would imagine you could simultaneously see the Ocean on one side and the Bay on the other. As it was, I could see Tomales Bay on one side and San Rafael on the other. And to the south, I could see Kent Lake and a great view of the spillway of Peters Dam. It was very windy (with a short 'i') and I hunkered in the shelter of a rock outcrop, enjoying some lunch on an impromptu board-bench that someone had rigged up. I thought about my friend Jen's cat, named Barnaby (different spelling but I always called him Barn-Barn, anyway), who died maybe about a year ago, or so. I've been feeling very tender toward the idea of pets dying. I think, with Victor gone, I lean on Arty a lot more and the thought of him dying seems especially poignant right now. I also saw 'The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill' on Friday night, which just made me think all the more about animals dying, and about animals in general as individuals with their own wills. I wish pet lifespans more closely approximated human lifespans. I saw a story, recently, about a tortoise that's 175 years old, the oldest known living animal. The tortoise may have belonged to Darwin, but this bit of legend is perhaps apocryphal (though you have to read a little ways before that's admitted in the story).

Anyway, enough of that tangent. After I finished my reflections upon Barn-Barn, I descended via the Barnabe Fire Road, from which I continued to enjoy good views much of the way down, but which was knee-poundingly steep. Maybe in the future I'll start taking the steep way up, to better preserve my knees. My friend Lisa, who coincidentally had done a hike up Mt. Barnabe just two days previous, reports that the other path to the top, the Ridge Fire Road, is similarly steep. I'll probably hike up that when it comes time to do it, and back down the gentle Bill trail.


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