Happy hump day everyone! Hope your weeks are all off to a great start. I’ve been battling a cold since last Tuesday, but it hasn’t stopped me from getting out on the trail!
Last Saturday, I left southern California around 3:00 AM to head up north to meet some friends in Marin county. My original plan was to summit Mt Tam finally, but my friend had another idea, Alamere Falls. It was about a ten mile hike, which seemed good for training my feet in my boots!
I was wary of a group hike because I’ve gotten used to going at my own pace, and logistics get complicated, but we eventually met up. It was really cool, because I got the opportunity to make two new friends that day that my friend Kelli had brought along!
It took us about an hour to get to the trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore, and once we got there, the rangers made us park over a mile away. Crowded day! At least we got a nice warm up walk!
The trail was pretty easy initially, with hard-packed dirt and wide trails, so I felt overdressed once again, but I got to teach my friends how to use trekking poles and got to tell them about my JMT plans. I got to know my new friends as well and found out some pretty awesome commonalities 🙂
Pretty soon after we started, the trail meandered along the cliff edge and the views were pretty beautiful. We took a couple side treks to have spiritual moments away from the crowds, and I chose a steep knoll to go up to test out my boots. Not too bad!
Continuing on, we entered shaded forest and the uphills started. One of the new friends I made, Hannah, started playing music and while it took me aback at first (augh, technology in nature!), but it ended up being a pleasant companion on the trip. We got to act a fool and be lighthearted with one another and people on the trail.
Speaking of people on the trail, they were not too keen on responding when we said hi to them to make pleasantries. It seemed like they all had sticks up their you-know-whats! Oh well, we reveled in being pleasant hikers to be around, happy that we were at least making an effort.
In one of the clearings of the forest, a beautiful lake appeared. It took me aback, and we stopped to admire it’s beauty. It was so still, so calm, so peaceful! A little hideaway about an hour from city life 🙂
As we continued climbing and descending, it was evident that the rains had made their mark. There were gutters along the trail where rain had eroded the dirt. Because the dirt was packed down so firmly, traction was scarce, even in boots! Also, balance was key since there were many passersby and the trail was surrounded on either side by poison oak. Having had a bad batch of poison oak before, I was extremely paranoid, but I trudged my way along the trail.
I still get confused about trail right-of-way, and apparently others do as well because people walking back to the trailhead were barreling through the narrow sections. I was courteous most of the time, but there were times where I just charged through out of frustration. I reminded myself after the fact that people going downhill wait for those coming uphill.
Eventually, we reached a trail intersection with warning signs. Oh no! The sign cautioned against even denser poison oak coverage, which freaked me out. Especially seeing that we were closer to the falls and more people were coming back. Crowds + Dense Poison Oak + Paranoid Doug = Frustration! But I made my way, and soon we were above the falls!
The descent to the base of the falls was beautiful, but sketchy. Everyone was climbing up and down the sandstone formations, and things got slippery. There was a “waiting system” implemented by the locals, but eventually we made it down! It was cool seeing my friends that didn’t hike much make it down, plus the view was pretty beautiful!
The waterfall drained right onto the beach, into the ocean. Fresh-water meets salt-water! I was enamored with its beauty, and we hung out to have lunch. Kelli and Jack played in the ocean a little bit, and once we were satisfied, we started heading back up the wall.
The ascent up the cliff wall was the most challenging part of the journey. The crowds were intense, and at one point I saw a guy helping others up, and followed suit. It was a little sketchy because the one step was taller than my body/arm reach, but the guy helped me up and I helped others 🙂 My plan was to charge up, but I followed intuition and saw where I could be of service.
Continuing the ascent, I got a fast start, straight into a foot hitting my head. No big deal, but it helped me to check myself. The walk back wasn’t too strenuous, but the crowds started getting to me and I went into “quiet Doug mode.” Sometimes, I just need to shut up, stop complaining, and let the feelings ride. I wasn’t very social for a while, but we made it back. There seemed to be more uphill on the way back, but there always does 🙂
I started picking Jack’s brain, and we discovered that we both lived in Chicago for a time (just missed each other’s ships) and knew a lot of the same people! We liked similar foods, and he was a pretty awesome guy! Crazy to see how small of a world we really live in, even with its vastness and beauty.
Overall, I enjoyed this hike, and will welcome group hikes in the future if they come naturally. Otherwise, I’ll probably be sticking to my solo ways. Me, God and the trail.
Thanks for reading, and remember: Take a hike and spice up your life!
P.S: I’ll have another hot sauce torture test ready for you guys in a couple days. Stay tuned!