Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Green Green Grass of Home

I was hiking 20-some miles a week here

while living in Marin.  I'm stymied for a pseudonymous reference to my Hiking Buddy, so, for now, she'll have to live with that relatively uninspiring moniker.  I leave my hiking boots in her garage so that I'll always be ready to join her on our mountain.  For it is our mountain - there is no doubt about that fact.

We'd reserved all of Tuesday for a "show me the greenery" excursion, and, as always, Hiking Buddy was prepared for pleasure.  Maps, carabiners, snacks, ice water, a bandana to dry my feet when we crossed here

and I opted to remove socks and sandals rather than scamper and risk total immersion.  She's the perfect companion for adventures like these; it's one of the many many reasons she's in my life.

Budget cuts are affecting parks all over America, I guess, so our usual parking lot was not an option.  The weather was iffy when we began, and muddy feet weren't high on our list of priorities, so we took our self-proclaimed Mary's Awesome Hike - named in honor of the slowest walker we know.  It's the Matt Davis trail out on the edge of the headlands, with views like this one

above Stinson Beach

and this one as you leave the ocean behind and enter the forest primeval.

For a girl who was starved for greenery, I was a fool in paradise.

The rains started as we entered that grove of trees, and the smells were incredible.  It had obviously been very wet, because the mushrooms were out in full force.  Just look at these beauties:

They just sit there, perched on the sides of trees, begging to be fondled and photographed.
One of the best things about walking with this Hiking Buddy is that she always stops for photo-opportunities.  There's no whining about losing the rhythm of the walk, no pouting about stopping again, there's just "let me take one of you" and "did you see this??" 
I'm telling you, she's perfect.

 Matt Davis took us down to Cataract Falls.  We took nearly 100 shots each; I'm just sharing this one:

I didn't want to leave.  That waterfall creates a stream down to Steep Ravine, which, as its name implies, is probably not the best hike for a slippery afternoon.  Instead, we ate at the crowded picnic area, with old folks and children and moms and grandmoms and a couple from Mexico who'd managed to hike right past the falls.  After giving directions and admonishments to walk safely and stay with the grown-ups we were finished being busy-bodies. But please, don't judge us too harshly.   After all, it is our mountain, remember?   We have a responsibility to those who join us on its slopes.

There were others on the adventure as well.  Check out this guy, quietly munching and lunching as we admired his loveliness:

We thanked him for eating slowly so that we could capture his feathery bottom and slithery tentacles.  He wasn't the only slug we found.  This guy looks like someone took a bite out of his side, doesn't he?

 This turned out to be an amazing wildflower hike, too.  The foliage on this ground cover stopped me dead in my tracks.

The white outlines reflected the sunlight sneaking through the treetops.  We stood in awe.

The Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa) is native to Mt. Tam, and we were overwhelmed by the numbers we saw.  They hide along the trail, single stalks of absolute loveliness.  Look:


There was evidence of lightning strikes

and more flowers than we could name or count

  It was, all in all, a nearly perfect hike.

Nearly, you ask?  What could have been the matter?  Well, remember those raindrops?  Remember how well prepared we were?  Perhaps I should have examined my poncho more closely before I put it in my pack......

It was just a tad too small.



  1. I loved it! And you too, are the best hiking buddy I've ever had. You're still up for any adventure, always with a smile, & our mantra (we had 2) 'are you really lost if you 'know' where you are' along with 'how tough can it be.'
    Nothing has changed.
    your boots are tucked away for our next Mt Tam adventure.

  2. Ah, Hiking Buddy.... those were the days.


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