A Tail of Two Hikes

Two Saturdays. Two hikes. Four sets of rippling and sweaty calves pumping along two sections of the California Coastal Trail. This trail system is half complete, but when finished will stretch from Mexico to Oregon.

Last Saturday J and I scootered north up to Mt. Tam and cut across the beautiful Bolinas/Fairfax road. I slammed on the brakes and we took a detour to pursue a flock of ethereal wild turkeys. I wasn’t able to snap a picture of them before they gobbled around a hill and into the shadows. After exploring Bolinas, we parked at the end of dusty Mesa road for a five mile round trip to Bass Lake. The hike took us along coastal cliffs before cutting inland to a series of old manmade lakes. The heat was tiring, so we stopped for lunch at the edge of Bass Lake. Pond skippers were in abundance, but no bass were to be seen.

We ran into our old landlord and his big-bosomed companion on the return.

Fog City from the Bolinas/Fairfax Road.

The road up to Mt. Tam.

Returning to the scooter after stalking turkeys.

Radio towers on Mesa Road.

Inside the raptor center.

The eucalyptus grove on the coastal trail.

A scenic trail.



Into the shadows.

Bass Lake.

On the drive back, we stopped at Slide Ranch. Founded in 1970, Slide Ranch is a non-profit teaching farm located at a historic coastal dairy perched above the ocean in the Marin Headlands within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The collection of weathered, ramshackle buildings sits amongst organic gardens, goats, sheep, chickens and ducks, along with numerous coastal trails, tide-pools and pocket beaches. It’s a beautiful, tranquil spot that feels at the edge of the world.

Goats ask “Wazzup?”

A farmhouse covered in flowering vines.

Ramshackle buildings on the cliff.


This wall has shingles.

A farmy feeling.

Tea tree in full bloom.

Then, a week of largely nothing.

A man ponders his certain death at Fort Funston.

Damn, bitches everywhere.

A man hauls his crashed glider up the cliff as a successful flyer rubs it in.

The high security of Mt. Davidson Park.

The massive cross at the top of the park had a hawk on top.

A hillside of blooming oxalis.


An old couple ponders the price of real estate.

Blooms out the yin yang.

Abandonment near Candlestick Park.

Princess of the Dry Docks.

Astronaut sculptures by Bay Front Park.

Last Saturday, J and I hiked along down the Tennessee Valley Trail, up a grueling hill along the Coastal Trail and down to rocky Pirate’s Cove. It was a roller coaster in both elevation changes and metaphor potential. Birds and bees were in abundance. The birds ate the bees, and the bigger birds ate the smaller birds. At the beginning of the hike we spotted a bobcat about 30 feet from the trail. It paid no mind, acting even more aloof than the average feline.

Bobcat sitting.

Bobcat walking.

The Tennessee Valley Trail in the foreground with the Coastal Trail heading up the hill on the right.

Looking back into the valley.

Horse riders.

The ocean.

Turkey vulture circling the weak hikers.

Descending to Pirate’s Cove.

J looking down the cliff.

The dead stalk of an agave.

Climbing down to the cove.

Mussel beach.

Purple flowering brush.

Our last stop of the day was Drake’s Bay Oyster Company. This farm has a shaky partnership with the government to farm oysters in the pristine waters of Drake’s Bay. When we arrived, laborers were sorting fresh oysters on a wet conveyor belt. The whole compound was weathered and falling apart. The oysters: fresh but disgusting. We paid $10 for a half dozen on the half shell. I could tolerate them with hot sauce, but for me fresh oysters combine my least favorite parts of seafood: fishy taste and chewy texture.

Oyster housing.

The sorting line.

Piles of shells.

More shells.

Our gross half dozen.

The ropes that the oysters are grown on.

The whole compound.

Poles mark the channel out to the bay during high tide. Not pictured: high tide.

We timed the drive home perfectly. The gas tank was almost empty before the fill up by the highway, and we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. The drive was 100 miles and it consumed 1.75 gallons of premium gas.

My face might be sunburned and my athlete’s feet are festering, but a full day outside was just what I needed to get ready for going back to work as a hotshot freelancer.

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February 13th, 2011. Categories / Bay Area

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