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Semi-Circle Hike # 10 - An Uphill March: Going Out Like A Lion (NO ROOKIES!)

  • Mar 29, 2014 · 12:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

I know what you're thinking: Didn't we already hit Stinson Beach in March?

That we did, conquering the breathtaking Dipsea/Steep Ravine/Matt Davis Loop on the 9th. Let's call that one our "Coming In Like A Lamb Hike." Now, we exit the tempestuous month on a trail just a quarter-mile away -- but worlds apart. 

With the long days here to stay, sunny weekends mean a rush to crush Mt. Tam. But one trail remains virtually unmolested by the crowds: Willow Camp. Most tourists (and more than a few locals) don't even know that it's there. And the preponderance of those who do won't want to have anything to do with it, so steeply pitched is the route.

But as we hit the home stretch for our high-altitude HIKE OF THE YEAR in South Tahoe, we're sparing no opportunity to train up -- and bear down.

* * * * * * * * * * * 

On the Wait List? Check out our Waiting Room literature!

* * * * * * * * * * * 

The Ultimate Semi-Circle takes place May 16-18 at Mount Tallac, which stands sentinel over Lake Tahoe. Only a few spots remain. RSVP.

THE STATS 

LENGTH: 7.3 miles (round trip)

VERTICAL GAIN: 2,274 feet, including the relentless 1,900-foot ascent from Stinson Beach to West Ridgecrest Blvd.

TYPE OF HIKE: Out-and-back, mostly on an exposed fire road, with forested single-track stretched in the middle at the end of the hike.

PLANNED STOPS: 15-minute stop at Cataract Falls, about 1.5 hours into hike; and a 25-minute lunch stop on our return trip to the apex of the hike, at the intersection of Willow Camp and Coastal trails. 

TIME ESTIMATE (WITH STOPS): 3.75 hours.

RESTROOMS: At Laura Dell, near Cataract Falls.

THE DRIVE

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.

THE HIKE

Climb. Descend (down the other side). Visit some cool falls. Re-climb. Descend.

That's the game plan for our 10th Semi-Circle Hike, part of the grand scheme of training for our 2014 HIKE OF THE YEAR: The Frolick on Tallac at Lake Tahoe, where we'll be ascending to a peak nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

If you were among the 37 Trustees who hiked Mt. Tam from Stinson Beach to Pan Toll on our March 9 excursion, you might have a hard time believing that you're ascending the same mountain -- especially since we start from the exact same place.

This time, however, the first half-mile of our hike is through the mean streets of Stinson Beach. If you’ve never gotten beyond the touristy part of this hamlet, you’ll dig the array of architecture and landscaping. Breathe deeply: that’s the smell of money.

We’ll quickly make our exit from town onto the trail. Here’s the short-and-sweet summary of Willow Camp: exposed, twisted (literally and figuratively) and breathtaking (literally and figuratively). All of which means you’ll get plenty of sun, plenty of sweat –- and jaw-dropping views, from top to bottom. The climb: nearly 1,900 in less than three miles -- most of it, in fact, in a nasty two-mile stretch. 

Like any Semi-Circle hike, our route has a few surprises (which, technically, won’t be surprises when I reveal them in 3 … 2 … 1): At 1,000 feet, the mountain plateaus (ever so briefly) and swings into gradient forest cover. Along the way, we’ll pass a lonely stand of redwoods, separated by just a half-mile from their plentiful brethren along the Matt Davis Trail.

As we leave the leafy canopy behind to start the vertical charge to meet up with iconic Coastal Trail, Willow Camp passes through a wonderland of wildflowers, which should be coming into bloom, right about ... then.

As we cross Coastal Tree, you’ll also notice more hikers sprouting up. They’ll become even more plentiful as we cross the aptly named Ridgecrest Boulevard (the kind of road with pavement and a yellow line down the middle). Congratulate yourself for a sweet ascent – that’s Stinson Beach’s “Vacation Row” and lake-sized tidal basin 1,900 feet below.

But don’t rest on your laurels, because we’re heading for Laurel Dell, the sunny meadow a quarter mile down on the eastern side of Mt. Tam. Actually, we’re just passing through Laurel Dell (here’s me taking the high road and not making a reference to Laura Dell being the slutty cheerleader that we all passed through in high school … oops, too late).

Just beyond the dell is our goal: multi-tiered Cataract Falls. Take a picture and text it to your snow-bound relatives back east.

After we’ve had our fill our frolicking (much like Laura Dell on prom night), we’ll make the sub-mile hike back up to Ridgecrest, cross the road and grab some hang time in the meadow (pictured above) on the western slope, above Coastal Trail. Eat, drink … and drink in the view. Your relatives will love checking out the pics while they’re chipping ice off their windshields.

THE BEER

For the first (and probably last) time in the annals of The Circle of Trust & Beer, we'll be hitting the same post-hike watering hole twice in the same month. But there's nothing like basking in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais after you've mounted her, and there's nowhere that frames the grandeur of Tam better than the Parkside Cafe

The beer's just as cold and the beach just as walkable in late March as it was earlier in the month, when we basked in the glow of an experience worth repeating. 

Who's In?


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  • A former member
    A former member

    What a gorgeous hike in the mist and rain. Loved the optional adventure of hopping over a creek semi-successfully! Great food and beer afterward, and toasty fire to dry us.

    3 · March 30, 2014

  • Drew

    Not enough photos so added a few more.

    March 30, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hard, steep and wet - but totally worth it! Great hike!

    1 · March 29, 2014

    • Ed W

      Randy needs to suggest options for movie night, no? ;p

      March 30, 2014

    • Drew

      Coulda used a pair of REI Steep-Ass pants...

      March 30, 2014

  • Tom M

    Yes, it was moist at times (thanks for the beer Rebecca), but the weather was dynamic as the great photos show. Loved the long jump creek crossing & the impressive cataract falls.

    1 · March 30, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great hike with amazing views.

    1 · March 29, 2014

  • Rebecca

    I just got Brian's prehike email, "No stern warnings to dress for weather or steep inclines/declines." How do you dress for steep inclines/declines? Should I have worn my REI High-Performance Hill-Tex Steep-Ass Pants? Dammit Brian, you gotta tell us these things!!

    1 · March 29, 2014

  • Ed W

    Great workout for the calves, and some great views of the beach. Very cool it did not rain much. Those that missed out, -missed out-.

    1 · March 29, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey I got here early but not sure where everyone's meeting. [masked] thanks! Johnno

    March 29, 2014

  • Brian Patrick H.

    Hell yes it's ON!!! LET'S GET MOIST!

    March 29, 2014

  • Franz

    Carpool with Rebecca from Richmond Bart station, 2 spots free. Use the Bart train that arrives at 10:46 at Richmond Bart Station. Mobile: (510)[masked]

    March 28, 2014

  • Piper

    It looks like rain on Saturday so I think we need another rain warning from Brian to ensure blue skies. What say you Brian?

    March 27, 2014

    • Brian Patrick H.

      Fire and brimstone!

      March 28, 2014

    • Piper

      Good to know. I'll bring my fireproof jacket.

      March 28, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Last carpool folks (Dan, John, Tulin) - should we do it again?

    March 26, 2014

    • Dan

      OK, I'll pick up Tulin in Menlo Park at 10:15, and we'll stop at park and ride in rwc for Susan at 10:25. Does that work?

      March 28, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sounds good Dan, thanks. I'll see you at the park and ride at Whipple and Veterans at 10:25.

      March 28, 2014

  • Emily B.

    Brian- So sorry that Charlie and I have to drop out at this late date. I am presenting an offer on a condo on Saturday afternoon. Wish me luck!!! - Emily

    March 27, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I want to come!

    March 28, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Looking forward to seeing everyone!

      March 28, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Going out of the country in a couple of days. Underestimated how much stuff I need to do before. Have fun!

    March 28, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anyone carpooling from east bay? I could use a ride.

    March 27, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Got room for one more

      March 28, 2014

    • Christopher

      Great, then count me in! What time?

      March 28, 2014

  • Andrea

    Sorry to more miss out on this one. Still in SLO area for work and we now have one more meeting tonight. Need you stay down one more day.

    March 28, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Argh! No empty nester here: I have some kid fun on Saturday. Enjoy the hike without me.

    March 27, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to miss it, but I'm signed up for a much shorter, but steeper hike that day. Indoors. Up the stairs in what I still think of as the Bank of America building.

    March 11, 2014

    • Brian Patrick H.

      Which floor is the beer on, Mike?

      March 11, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      The second, actually. After the climb. Speakeasy and Lagunitas are the providers. And then at 2pm a few blocks away at the Ratebeer Gallery III event (yes, I'll shower first). It's going to be a great day.

      1 · March 27, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was my favorite place so far to hike but I have to take a law and ethics seminar so i will be bailing.

    March 25, 2014

  • Eva-Maria

    +1

    March 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    plans changed, taking advantage of the long weekend to take a trip to the lost coast!

    March 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    @Teresa - helping you get a little closer to your 2nd hike.
    Sister just told me she's visiting; gotta get time in with the fam. :)

    March 18, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      It won't be the same without you

      March 18, 2014

  • Proncho R.

    Nice shirt Brian.

    March 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Full already? It's going to take me a year to get my second hike in :-(

    March 12, 2014

    • Drew

      3rd on waitlist w/2.5 wks to go - you're as good as in :)

      March 12, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Drew for giving me hope :-)

      March 12, 2014

  • Ed W

    I'm getting old and slow. The other 30 of you that just reserved, there is a place at high noon for folks fast on the draw...

    1 · March 11, 2014

25 went

  • Brian Patrick H.
    116-HIKE VETERAN/39 Semi-Circles, Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Laura A.
    16-HIKE VETERAN/5 Semi-Circles (AUGUST PBR: 37)
  • MJ
    15-HIKE VETERAN/4 SEMI-CIRCLES (Top 100 PBR)-2016: 2/1
  • Franz
    11-HIKE VETERAN/5 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Piper
    22-HIKE VETERAN/6 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • John R.
    17-HIKE VETERAN/6 Semi-Circles (AUGUST PBR: 33)
  • Merle
    25-HIKE VETERAN/9 Semi-Circles
  • Rebecca
    12-HIKE VETERAN/3 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Jen
    SEVEN-UPPER/3 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Dan
    20-HIKE VETERAN/11 Semi-Circles
  • Christophe­r
    TWO-TIMER (1 Semi-Circle)
  • Proncho R.
    12-HIKE VETERAN/1 Semi-Circle (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Tom M
    25-HIKE VETERAN/15 Semi-Circles
  • Drew
    42-HIKE VETERAN/14 Semi-Circles
  • Ben
    *CLUB 66* 56-HIKE VETERAN /22 Semi-Circles (Top 100 PBR)
  • Tim N.
    14-HIKE VETERAN/3 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Ed W
    THREE-PEATER/1 Semi-Circle
  • A former member
  • A former member
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  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
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