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, July 08, 2006

Two Saturdays ago Arty and I went on an eight-mile-or-so hike from Deer Park in Fairfax, only three-or-so miles of which I actually enjoyed, unfortunately, due to various annoyances, my own bad 'headspace', and Arty's discomfort. Started out earlyish, at around 8:30 or so, and hiked up the Ridge Trail, which is a secondary trail heading southwest out of Deer Park, marked on the map but not signed. Annoyance number one was that this trail, as a consequence of its infrequent use and maintenance, has a lot of vegetation crowding it, which spiders apparently find convenient to string webs across. At face level. Combine this with the fact that the trail starts with a rather steep climb, and that it was already promising to be quite hot out that day, and the result is a cobwebby, nasty, sweaty mess, not to mention the insistent notion that there were spiders crawling around in my hair (I'd call it paranoia but I don't think the notion was at all an unreasonable one). Ugggh.

My route started getting a bit convoluted after that, a result of taking a non-direct path to stay on hiking trails I've never hiked before. Let's see... took a short spur off Ridge to the Canyon Trail, which hooked into the Concrete Pipeline Fire Road after .2 miles. Was informed by a sign that Concrete Pipeline Road was closed for repair, which was annoyance number 2, but this turned out not to be the case, so the annoyance was short-lived. Ever increasing crowds of people (no more Deer Park on the weekend for me- I think I've made this resolution before, but maybe this time I'll stick to it) rapidly took their place as annoyance number 3 and remained as such for most of the rest of the hike. Point six miles on Concrete Pipeline to the Five Corners Junction, where we picked up Shaver Grade. Stuck with that for .4 miles to the Logging Trail, another unsigned, unmaintained trail that was nonetheless marked on the map. Annoyance number 4 took the form of an invasive species of plant called French Broom, which was over-growing the trail to the point that I felt like I was swimming in the stuff at times. Fortunately the Logging Trail was another short spell: .4 miles and I was out of the jungle to rejoin Concrete Pipeline Fire Road. Stayed on that for a whopping .7 miles and then picked up Madrone Trail for .2 to Fish Gulch for .3 to wind up at Phoenix Junction on the westernmost point of Phoenix Lake.

Taking the mysteriously named "Phoenix Ord Trail" (or so it is called on my map), Arty and I hiked around the south side of the lake, which is shaped like a crescent with the concave side pointing southwest, and back around the east side of the lake. Despite the continuing onslaught of masses of people, I was finally starting to relax into the hike, and the lake is certainly pleasant, picturesque, and replete with bathing opportunities for Arty. We picked up the Yolanda Trail in the middle of the convex, northeastern side of the crescent. This is where the hike started becoming a trial for Arty, as the Yolanda trail climbed a relatively exposed ridge and by this time it was pretty much high noon, an uncomfortable, shadeless time for a black dog. We found some remnant pools of water in dried-up stream beds for him to refresh himself in, but overall he was not having a great time. When we reached Six Points junction after about 1.5 miles, I took the shortest path back to the trailhead rather than the more roundabout route that would have taken in Mt. Baldy, as I had previously planned. Both Arty and I were happy to finally reach the truck at the end of the hike. Bummer.


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