Before they lower me in a box, I'd like to see the end of two archaic remnants from yesteryear: the Electoral College; and Daylight Standard Time.
But let's take joy where we can, shall we? Daylight Savings Time begins on March 9, when the sun doesn't set until 7:10 p.m. And we'll be drinking beer on the deck of the Parkside Cafe, in the shadow of awe-inspiring Mt. Tam, when it does.
It's our first Sunday hike since Oct. 27 ... with many more to follow as the psychological burden of the short days fades to black.
And, for what it's worth, nobody will be lowering me in a box. I'm going out in a cloud of ashes ... scattered over Mt. Tam.
Wow. This hike took just 26 minutes to reach its 33-Trustee max -- shaving a minute off our previous-fastest time. If you find yourself on our Waiting List, read this to pass the time
LENGTH: 7.0 miles (round trip)
VERTICAL GAIN: 1,419 feet.
TYPE OF HIKE: Loop, entirely on single-track trails.
PLANNED STOPS: 25-minute lunch stop at Pan Toll Ranger Station picnic area after 3-mile ascent; short stop at Table Rock, overhanging Stinson Beach, in final half-hour of hike.
TIME ESTIMATE (WITH STOPS): 4 hours.
RESTROOMS: At Pan Toll.
Take Highway 1/Stinson Beach exit off 101 and -- you guessed it -- follow Highway 1 to Stinson Beach. The Fire Station is the very first thing you'll see, on the right, when you get into town. Park on Belvedere Ave. if you can -- but anywhere in town will do. Give yourself 45 minutes from the 101 exit -- Highway 1 to Stinson Beach is a crowded, serpentine route on weekends. And parking is a ... beach.
If we took a poll of everybody's favorite hike among the first 33 in Circle history, I'd bet the farm that we'd have a neck-and-neck race between the Steep Ravine-Matt Davis loop on Mt. Tamalpais and the slopes of Purisma Creek Redwoods above Half Moon Bay.
From the Dipsea Trail's origin at Highway 1, we'll climb quickly through the woods to an altitude of 500 feet and a stellar view of crescent-shaped Stinson Beach floating between the ocean and a tidal basin.
A few rolling hills later, we'll move into the foliage and come upon The Bridge of Decisions, where we'll whip out the playing cards and let fate dictate your route.
A red card sends you across the bridge to continue on Dipsea, where you'll be greeted by a series of lung-expanding stairs leading into a tranquility-inducing forest of pines and redwoods. The trail flattens out for a sunny stroll overlooking a picturesque valley. At the Coastal Fire Road, Dipsea continues onward toward Mill Valley, but we'll veer onto Old Mine Trail for the final surge uphill.
A black card means you'll be heading up Steep Ravine, where the terrain starts to look like a Spielberg movie set: primordial fronds; steps etched into the sides of cliffs; and fallen redwoods spanning creek gulches. Halfway up is Steep Ravine's signature entity: a ladder rising beside Webb Creek's waterfall. The uphill trek concludes in a series of fenced switchbacks, one piled atop the other.
Our two groups will only be separated for about an hour -- we'll re-connect at Pan Toll, where Panoramic Highway tops out and a half-dozen trails converge around a ranger station. Pat yourself on the back (or wherever you like to pat yourself) -- the climb is over!
After a lunch break, we'll jump across Panoramic Highway and pick up Matt Davis Trail. The next two miles are a relatively flat trek that alternatives between forests and meadows, one of which offers a stirring view of downtown San Francisco and Ocean Beach (unless fog dictates otherwise). From up here, you can often see the Farallon islands, 23 miles to the west.
Virtually all of the downhill takes place in the final two miles of the hike, when the trail dips into a forest of Douglas fir, laurel, buckeye, and oak while edging closer to Table Rock Creek. As the sounds of the ocean begin to filter through, we'll come to Table Rock (pictured above). Check out the ant-sized humans scrambling over Stinson Beach, 600 feet below.
The trail deposits us back on Belvedere Ave., just up the street from our meetup spot at the firehouse.
Then it's on to ...
Wedged between Highway 1 and the ocean, the cleverly named Parkside Cafe (it's beside a park!) doesn't even both with a web site. So here's their Yelp Page. There's a solid selection of beer, decent grub and a deck with an awesome view of the mountain that we just dominated.