Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Visit Muir Woods?

Don't mind if I do!

Sarah and took the day for a hike in beautiful Muir Woods National Monument, just a bit south of her old San Rafael stomping grounds. I don't have any Wednesday classes, and we both needed to blow off some steam. Seriously.

We started in the old growth at the trailhead--really crowded for a Wednesday. We had to park in the overflow lot, and I've heard it's incredibly zooey on the weekends. For what it's worth. We were feeling saucy, so we hiked to the end of the paved main loop, and crossed a bridge over the river to the Ben Johnson trail. It was a gorgeous, slightly hazy day, but we still got a lot of sun (so cloudy and rainy the last few days--really lucky to get nice weather when we could enjoy it). When we started out, it was chilly enough for longsleeves, and we could see our breath. Steam rose off the trail and the trunks of the trees at the occasional patch of sunshine. Every cranny and gully seemed to have a stream running through it, and the whole countryside is much greener than I've seen it before. The clean smell of the air, the breeze and the little spots of sun, and the sound of the running water were such a contrast to all the city noises in Oakland, the dry dusty air, the traffic and stress. I feel like I've had the same low-grade cold/allergies for months, the same wheezy feeling in my chest. Yuck.

The trail met up with the Dipsea trail at the top of the ridge, and the forest cleared out so we could see Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond on the far side of the bay; Angel Island and all the shi-shi burbs huddled at the feet of the Marin Headlands; past the headlands we could see San Francisco itself, and then the Pacific off to the west. We could see it all, and it was really stunning. After a half-mile through the scrub the trail dipped back down into mixed Redwood, Doug Fir, and California Bay Laurel (whose leaves make the most incredible spicy, gummy, sweet smell between your fingers). We walked down hundreds of steps into the canyon, alongside small waterfalls and through soggy patches of trail. In an open area above Stinson Beach we saw a Kestrel kiting, or trying to--it was really gusty out, and the kestrel seemed to be having trouble figuring out where the wind was coming from. The trail was dotted with coyote scat, gray and fuzzy with fur. Some of the fumets had broken apart a little, and you could see the jumbled architecture of tiny mouse bones poking out.

We were going to eat lunch on the beach, but the wind was getting stronger and the clouds rolling in, so we retreated to a picnic bench. Simple lunch: bread and cheese. It's nice not to eat fancy when you're out and about.

On the way back we saw two guys up the hill from us, clambering to the top of a outcropping carrying what looked like small red surfboards. Getting closer we realized they were each toting a radio controlled sailplane. Before we hiked past their aerodrome we got to watch one of 'em try his luck in the bluster: I really thought he was going to eat it at one point, but he pulled it out at the last second. He landed it during the next pause of the wind--didn't want to press his luck, I guess.

The hike back seemed a lot quicker--similar scenery, but in reverse and cloudier. We got really chilled coming back into the Redwoods, but were soon in our car and up and over the nauseatingly winding headlands road and into traffic on highway 101. {sigh}.

Sarah is washing dishes at PSR tonight, and I will go over to retrieve her soon. Then the two of us, Zsolt, and KT are going to get blastoid, Transylvanian-style, somewhere in San Francisco. Wish me luck!

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