After 5 days in San Fran we were ready for a change. Originally we had planned to visit Yosemite, but after it was closed down we altered our very loose plans and took the buses an hour North to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County.
Although relatively close to the hustle and bustle, as soon we headed over Golden Gate bridge we were transported to a place where life was slower, people knew everyone in the village, and bus drivers discussed world events such as if the wooden bridge should be repaired over some non-descript marshland. I liked it.
As Jerry our bus driver dropped us off on the early sunny Sunday morning at our campground up in the state park of Mount Tam, we quickly found a spot to call home, got a cup of brew on the go, and set out the map the ranger had given us to plan the next few days events.
With no car and being situated around 5km from the nearest civilization, hiking, fresh air, star gazing, some trail running and lazing around were the order of the trip. Luckily for us the trails and paths were not only amazingly well marked and well trod, they went through a diverse range of fauna and geology, with either breath-taking views overlooking hilly golden autumnal slopes, or vista of the Pacific Ocean hazily lazily splashing its waves.
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The first day we headed down to the beach, mindlessly ignoring that it was an hour downhill that had to be traversed later on the day uphill; we were camping at around 7000ft, so everything apart from the mountain tops were downhill, and as Han fell asleep on the warming soft sands, I read and juggled and enjoyed a couple of hours of peace and quiet.
Later that evening, as we headed back to camp, got our campfire going and started on dinner, an amazing sunset sprayed us with a multitude of colours and contours, which we gratefully took in as we sat on a hillside with our equally warming dinners watching natures colour show unfold and disappear.
The next day we decided to head out on a trail run over some of the amazing trails in the area, and planned to go around 20-25km up to the peak of Mount Tam before taking a circuitous route back in time for a later lunch. Surprisingly we didn’t get lost once, and we soon found ourselves chatting with the park ranger atop the peak, watching turkey vultures fly by with San Fran hazily in the distance.
The route back proved to be equally successful, and with a good distance under our belt in some form of prep for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim that we were planning to attempt a couple of weeks later, we gorged on some bread and cheese back at camp (a staple of any backpackers diet), Han fell to sleep again, I washed up, cleaned up, sorted out everything and prepped dinner, before another amazing sunset enveloped the camp. These grand sunsets were soon becoming ten to the dozen, and I soon had to stop myself taking another photo of another sunset.
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With another day in the area we first headed down to the closed down National Redwood Muir Forest. Named after the famous Scottish born American naturalist this small forest set as an island in the middle of Mount Tamalpais state park is home to some of the largest trees on earth, which towered over and above us like great sentinels guarding their habitat. After grabbing a lift with a Swedish couple we headed to a local town before deciding to take ‘the hardest and steepest trail out of the area’, visited an alpine lake and took a dose of some very average waterfall action (it was dry season afterall), before gently drifting off to sleep back at camp as the night and its sounds took over from the days heat and adventure.
A small epilogue to our tale of hiking and sleeping; as were making our way back to San Fran via a couple of buses, the final city-bus wouldn’t take us with all our gear (and evidently no idea on the rules). As Han headed to Starbucks to get a taxi number a Russian guy came up to me.
It transpired that his girlfriend got on the bus just after we had been denied access, and rang up her boyfriend who she knew was heading into town in 30mins or so. He approached us and asked if we wanted a lift – which we gratefully took. An hour later and we were no longer stranded at some bus juncture, but sitting down at our hostel in San Fran realising that there are some truly generous people out there.
Mount Tamalpais had been a wonderfully rejuvenating experience where we stretched our legs over 50km of trails, took our time and appreciated life, and recharged the life batteries which the cities, buses, taxis and bustle require.
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