A long wonderful hike

the starting out pointYesterday was fine hiking weather, indeed it was. Starting out from Muir Woods parking lot, Matt and Kay and I struck out on the Hillside trail where the shade of the redwoods offered a respite from the bright mid-day sun. We turned onto Ben Johnson and began our step ascent out of the valley of redwoods, passing over creeks, in and out of the light and shade, inhaling scents of pine and forest. A turn onto Stapelveldt and soon we found ourselves in the shade of the Pantoll parking lot for a snack break of nuts and granola bars.

snack break After some water and rest, it was on to the Matt Davis trail hugging the west side of Mt. Tam, weaving in and out of shady groves of laurel and fir. The Pacific shimmered off to our left with a cooling breeze which kept us from overheating, and we turned onto the Coastal Trail as Matt Davis continued west towards Stinson Beach. We passed the rusted out remains of a car that long ago drove off the road above us (East Ridgecrest Blvd.) and crashed down the hillside. It didn't look like the driver could have survived. A cool shady spot soon after yielded the sap-covered rocks upon which we sat to enjoy our lunch and rest our wearying feet. But not for long…

heading home, finallyContinuing along the narrow dusty trail lined with shimmering golden grasses, we intersected the Willow Camp fire road and turned east, beginning the trip back towards home. Climbing the hill, we passed the shedded skin of a rattlesnake baking in the sun. Up over and then down the other side onto the Cataract Trail, again weaving in and out of oak and laurel and crossing over creeks, until we arrived at the Mountain Home theatre. We crossed over to Bootjack and made our final push towards home. Down down down, across streams and brooks, back into the shady comfort of Redwoods, down the stairs of Bootjack, we ambled. Legs aching, toes blistering, vision focusing on the end of the long loop, we followed Bootjack back into Muir Woods and out to the parking lot. 10+ miles of pure California hiking splendor. [pop-up map of the whole long route]