Hiking Steep Ravine

Team hike: Steep Ravine

Yesterday was our toughest team hike yet, a trail very accurately called “Steep Ravine” at Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Every Saturday until the actual Grand Canyon event in May, we have early morning hikes to prepare. Each one of the hikes is longer in time and length and more difficult in terms of terrain and incline than the previous one. Steep Ravine was a 2.5-hour hike, that like the Grand Canyon will be, had us hiking down first, and then out. The loop took us down the Dipsea Trail from the Pantoll Station parking lot to Highway 101, then reversing up the Steep Ravine trail back to the starting point.

The hike down the Dipsea Trail provided amazing views south over the Marin Headlands toward San Francisco and West to the ocean. In the distance the metal skeleton of Sutro Tower atop San Francisco’s Twin Peaks was just barely visible.

The climb out of the steep ravine was gorgeous. Winter here in California means wet weather, so the waterfalls and creeks were rushing with water. The tree canopy was green and throughout the ravine was an amazing covering of vibrant blue-green and emerald green moss covering one side of every slope, tree trunk and branch. The early morning mist gave the ravine a very ephemeral and magic feeling. And the clean moist smell of the redwoods was refreshing (not to mention the crisp air – it was 40 degrees at the start of the hike, about 55 degrees when we finished.)

I proudly made it around the loop in 2 hours, but that didn’t mean a resting reward. For those of us who finished early, we continued our hike on a portion of the Coastal Trail, heading out and back to fill up our final 30 minutes. This portion of the Coastal Trail was inland, so the ocean was not visible. Though a nice ridge trail, it wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the ravine we had just climbed.

Every one of our Saturday morning hikes is a test of dedication by the sheer hour of the hike alone. Luckily Mt. Tam isn’t too far north of San Francisco, so the 8 a.m. hike only meant a 6 a.m. wake-up call. Some of our later hikes that are farther from the city will mean getting up even earlier. Needless to say, my Friday nights have become stay-at-home evenings so that I can make it out the door, fully prepared and not too grumpy when I meet up with some of my fellow hikers for the carpool ride to the hike site.

What’s up for today: The day after a big hike is thankfully an easier day. My training consists of just a 30-40 minute easy walk, which most Sunday’s I get in by heading down my hill to Safeway for groceries and then back up with the bags in tow. Then up my 3 tall flights of stairs to my apartment. It’s really quite a workout depending on what I have to buy that week!

Help the cause: If you haven’t already donated for the hike and would like to pitch in to help me reach my $3,500 minimum goal (and in turn help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in their fight against blood cancers), log on to http://www.active.com/donate/hfdsf/hfdJHoadle for more information and an online donation form. Rather donate via check? E-mail me for details.