Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have a pretty neat work schedule that gives me a couple weekdays off each month and now that I don't have a training schedule to stick to, these days are likely going to be devoted entirely to hiking.  My inaugural trip was a raucous double-Dipsea this past Friday that resulted in minor adventures and major soreness.
After work on Thursday I headed to Oakland to crash with Jessie and hitch a ride into the north bay the next morning.  She works  near Fairfax, so I dropped her off and headed to Mill Valley, knowing only to stick "old mill park" into my phone's GPS.  I parked, gathered my pack and headed to the stairs with some guidance from people who looked like they might know what they were doing.  I definitely could have done a bit more research ahead of time, I sort of assumed that the path would be fairly intuitive as it's a pretty renowned spot, but I definitely had to ask a few strangers for help in the residential area where the trail starts.  I still got lost and ended up at Mountain Home Inn.  At least from there I had a point of reference, so the PDF map on my phone was of some use.  I hit the pit toilets and changed from jeans into running shorts and headed down an alternate route that would take me to the Dipsea trail.  These first few miles were glorious, I absolutely recommend exploring the Troop 80, TCC and other trails in the area, I plan to go back and do more for sure.  The trails were nicely shaded and slightly technical, allowing for easy fast hiking and as much running as my singing mood would allow.  I hit Dipsea and enjoyed some major staircase descent, dreading the return trip all the while.  The woods opened up to the scrubby hills that are famous for shortcuts and views and I arrived in Stinson Beach right on my 3 hour estimate, despite picking up a dash of extra mileage.  I headed for the sand, kicked off my shoes and enjoyed the glorious cool water in a way that only a runner can.  I decided to wear my NB101s, which are fairly minimal.  So although my feet were nice and cool, they were definitely starting to hurt a bit at that point.
I plopped down on the sand for a tasty PBJ and some Fritos (another bonus of carrying a backpack instead of just a hydration unit, packed lunch instead of solely GU) and relaxed for a bit.  I had brought a swimsuit and considered jumping in for a quick swim but I didn't really feel that I had the time to do so.  I didn't see anyone else swimming, so I would've wanted to check in with the lifeguards on duty first and my inadvertent re-route meant that I was unfamiliar with most of the trail I planned to return on.  So, I geared back up, took a piss and headed for the hills.  Before hitting the forest I got to see a bit of Blue Angel action in the distance.  They were in SF for Fleet Week and I caught a couple of loop-de-loops as they were practicing.  As I started to trudge back up those awful stairs I started to realize just how much pain I was going to be in for the next few days.  I was using my hips and calves in a totally different way than what I am used to and my pack weight was surely magnifying the effects at each step.  The trail leveled out for a bit and crossed a fire road a few times where I ran into four other hikers that were headed to the same place in opposite directions.  I pointed them towards the beach and beers that they seemed rather excited about and gave myself a little pat on the back.
The Muir Woods visitor center was bustling with activity, so I passed through quickly, only to find a sign noting that a portion of Dipsea was closed due to slides.  A responsible adult could have detoured via highway fairly easily.  I am not a responsible adult.  I said "fuckit" and trooped on towards imminent danger anyhow.  The portion of trail that was closed was relatively small and hugged the highway, so I figured I could scramble up to the road if necessary at any point.  There was only one obstacle and it involved a bit of a climb through some mild brush and an awkward straddling of drainage pipe.  As I made it back into Mill Valley I still lost a portion of trail and ended up jogging down a busy road back towards the park.  Luckily I had cell service and was able to find the most direct route back to the old mill park, making it back in time for a light stretch, a handful of chips and hitting the road.
The timing was perfect to pick up Jessie and we headed back to the comforts of home.  I was fully exhausted the next day and still have some soreness in my right calf now, but I cannot wait to get back on the trail and plan some extended trips for the next couple of holiday weekends.