Monday, July 10, 2006

Mt. Tam & Bolinas Day

The highest peak in our area is a mountain called Mt. Tamalpais. Since no one really knows how to say it, most people around here just call it Mt. Tam. She is just over 2500 feet. We'd been reading about her before we arrived and admiring her from a distance but on Sunday, we decided to give her a climb.

Cam had been in Chicago for work for a few days. We didn't have time for any nature in awhile. He wanted to do something adventuresome that day.

I had the idea we were going to drive towards the mountain, find a trail and start climbing towards the peak. Cam consulted the hiking book and we left. He drove us to a parking lot which was within .3 miles of the Eastern Peak. That made it quite attainable but a bit anti-climatic. We hadn't had to earn it. Which was probably good since it was one of the hottest days we'd had in awhile. The forecast was for high 80s and the guy volunteering at the Visitor's Center said it was going to be 90 that day. We left home around 8am hoping to beat the heat but it was hot at the top of the mountain. And I was pretty whiny about the heat. I was only happy when I was in the shade. And on top of the mountain, there weren't many trees. Cam had found a nice, easy loop trail for us but it was on asphalt and looked to be mostly in the sun. Despite the fact I hadn't looked at the hiking book, I wanted to try a different trail, one called, "Fern Creek." That sounded shady with water nearby. We looked at the map and made our best guess about which direction to go. Of course, we didn't see a trail marked "Fern Creek." We did see one that made mention of a lake. Stuck on the idea of water, (It was really hot; I might have waded into a lake had we found one.) I suggested we try this "trail." It was actually a "fire road." The surface covered by lots of jagged rocks like the trail in this picture of Cam. (He was on the way to the summit but the terrain of this fire road was much the same.) Anyway, at least the fire road was in the shade and it was going downhill which I liked but Cam was concerned about how much I'd like going back up it. I was hopeful we'd come to a lake, Cam was sure the lake the sign indicated was much farther than we were prepared to hike on this trail on this day. Eventually, we turned around and went back.

I bought a map from the visitor's center that and learned that even if we'd have found "fern creek," that the first part of it would have been pretty sunny. The volunteer working there, told me about an easy loop that was mostly shaded. Even with his verbal instructions and the mad, the entrance to that trail wasn't apparent. The moral of the story, it is a big mountain. It will take awhile to learn and become familiar with it. We think we will try it in cooler weather.

The cool thing is that if you want different weather around here, you only have to travel a few miles. Cam suggested we go to the beach to cool off. He'd been thinking Stinston Beach but I was excited when we saw a sign directing us to Bolinas. Sam and I had visited Bolinas the last time we were here at the advice of a park ranger. It is this tiny, hippie town where the locals literally tear down any signs posted on the main road directing tourists their way. So when I saw a way down the mountain that took us to that particular beach, I thought it was a great option. The road wound down the mountain for quite awhile but eventually, we made it to Bolinas. After wandering around a bit, we decided to eat our picnic lunch on the beach near where a group of people were trying to surf. Bolinas borders the bay so the waves weren't mammoth and none of the people surfing was particularly impressive but they did look like they were having fun. I've never tried surfing. It was always expensive when we were on vacation growing up and I never had anyone in my group who could teach me. But now that we live near the ocean, it seems time to give it a try. I'm hoping Sam and I can check it out this August. Surf Bolinas offers group lessons with an equipment package. Sounds like an excellent birthday present to me. (Sam turns 9 next Sunday, July 16th. We'll be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the Powell Family Reunion.) Maybe we can try surfing there?

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