Our latest hike was a buddy hike: a smaller hike with our buddy group instead of the entire team. It was also a shorter hike – only 4 hours. I think they are being nice to us the weekend before our big simulation hike next weekend at Mt. Diablo – hiking down and back up the mountain for a long hike to get us a feel for what the canyon will be like.
We thankfully had a dry morning, though it was overcast and gray for most of the hike. The trails were up in Marin Headlands, north of San Francisco. We started at our usual chipper and early 8 a.m. It was a definite bonus for our chosen trails; the first trail (Tennessee Valley) is a fairly flat, very well-groomed trail that by mid-morning on the weekends is usual overwhelmingly busy with people – from runners to families to strollers and bikes and dogs, etc. It’s a popular all-purpose trail that isn’t too long and leads to a nice beach with views of the city.
Because of our early start, we caught a lot of wildlife along trail. There were dozens of the red-winged blackbirds you see above flitting around. We also throughout the day saw baby deer, wild turkey, hawks, blue jays robins and a horse named Flame (with a rider;-)
The easy grade Tennessee Valley Trail was a short lived portion of our hike. After about a mile we turned uphill to catch the Coastal Trail which runs along the coast line following up and down the hilly ridges.
Our buddy group is one of the smallest on the San Francisco Bay Area team, so there were only 6 of us total on the hike 4 from my buddy group (one person was unable to come), our mentor, and an extra from the Silicon Valley chapter that hiked with us for the day. Lois, our mentor, led the hike and decided to add a fun little mid-way point incentive. At Muir Beach, our halfway mark on the 4.5 hour hike, we stopped at a little English pub (Pelican Inn) for morning tea. Muddy and sweaty, I felt a bit out of place, but she said the pub was a popular stopping point for mountain bikers, hikers and the like on weekend afternoons. We beat that crowd ourselves though getting there right when they opened.
The hike back to the trailhead was beautiful as well. We tracked back along the Coastal Trail for a bit, then took a slightly more inland route along the Coastal Fire Road (a wide/better groomed trail, but very steep with long uphills) to the Fox Trail back to the Tennessee Valley Trail. It’s amazing after doing so many longer hikes (5+ hours) how short our hike felt. Of course the stop for a spot of tea added to our overall time, but broke up the hike in a good way.
Only two more weekends before the Canyon! 🙂 Woo hoo!