"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, June 26, 2008

6/26/08: Marin Headlands, CA-Day 2, Muir Beach

One of the more strenuous, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding days.

I got up, packed up, and took a quick hike down to the shoreline to get some pictures and realized how far I HADN'T gone! That damn bridge was still right there! As though my 5 mile hike had taken me 3/4 of a mile. Grr...

I packed up rather quickly... relatively speaking... and headed toward the visitors center in hopes of getting water and the cell phone recharged. They were beyond helpful, I think more or less because they had some company. I chatted up the volunteer while the phone charged, filled up the water and headed toward Rodeo Beach and the 2nd half of my off- road voyage to Muir Beach. I had lingered around quite a long time, and by the time I got on the trail it was 3:30. It seemed to get dark out here at about 8:30 or so, so I figured a mile an hour was enough time. I was completely full on water, so quite heavy. Maybe close to 55 or 60 #, and I'd assumed the 2nd day of hiking would resemble the first. I was wrong.

The first leg of the hike was again the worst part. It was about a 2 mile climb to the top of "Hill 88", some old WWII military instillation. Along the way there were old military bunkers to protect the coast from a supposed Japanese invasion.

My right lower calf down toward my Achilles had begun to bother me the day before, and now due to the steeper incline and full load, was starting to really bug me. I kept envisioning my Achilles popping and being stuck out there! Yeah, yeah... paranoid.

The first climb took quite a while, and was quite tiring, and I just couldn't get away from that damn bridge!. Like biking though, where there's a climb, there's a descent. I was quite proud of myself when I got to the top after getting 2nd and 3rd winds, so I squatted down in the dirt, rested, grubbed, enjoyed the view, and said goodbye to the Golden Gate Bridge... finally.

When I got ready to leave, the pack felt VERY light. I also noticed that my ass was wet. It quickly became obvious that I had set the pack down on top on the Camelback's nozzle, without closing it, thus draining all 3 liters all over the ground! That left me with about a liter and a half in Friar Chris's boca bag, the rest of my 1- liter Gatorade bottle of water, and my 1- liter Nalgene bottle. So, 3 1/2 liters. It actually pleased me a bit, because I had consumed very little water thus far, and was now about 7# lighter. The thought of seeing how little water I could get away with carrying had been decided for me, and that was strangely just fine with me!

I got going down the other side of hill #1 along a narrow and steep decline. I ran into another guy, and older Scottish gentleman who was quite interested in what I was up to. Money being a constant problem, I was crushed when he told me that he usually carried $20 in his trousers in case he ran into a respectable backpacker, but that day he had forgotten to bring it! He may have been full of shit, but I chose to believe him. He compensated the $20 with a small bottle of water, and I was on my way.

Hill #2 was actually a road. MUCH shorter than the first, but steeper. This one was almost as exhausting, but I got to the top with no real problems thinking Muir Beach would be visible from the other side.



There was yet ANOTHER descent & climb ahead of me! This one creeped me out a bit because after the decline to Pirates Cove, the climb seemed to follow the hill along a path of switchbacks with a pretty steady incline... less so than the other two hills, but pretty long.

About here I'd begun to seriously wonder rather or not I'd finish this leg today. I started to concentrate on my Mp3's, and enjoying the scenery... one step at a time... then remarkably my energy level skyrocketed. I got to the top with no real problem AGAIN thinking I'd see Muir Beach greeting me with open arms.



Ahead of me was a mesa. No sign of Muir Beach. I knew it was close from the signs, so I just kept going. About 3/4 of a mile later I began to see signs of a settlement. Big houses on a hill. Signs of civilization. Todd was happy.

Eventually I got to the end of the mesa overlooking Muir Beach. There was a steep descent directly down to the beach and when I got there I took the first place to sit I could find, on a log and exhaled dramatically. Probably too much so. The sight of a a solitary person stumbling out of the bush carrying the backpack was quite a sight, as the endless stares attested to.

There were 3 or 4 people setting up tents right there on the beach, so I asked one of them if we could do that. To my utter joy he said, "They don't say we can't!"... This was perfect!! I set up the tent, unpacked most of my stuff, snuggled into the sleeping bag, and called Laina and Chris... getting ready for a beautiful night's sleep. Perfect!!

Too perfect.

My night wasn't quite over.

At about 10:00, while I was on the phone with Friar, on popped a flashlight accompanied by a voice announcing "Park Ranger! Park Ranger!!"


He asked, stupidly, if I was camping. I mean, I had the rain fly up and everything and was wrapped up in a sleeping bag. He quickly informed me I'd be relocating. So, I started packing my stuff wondering where I was going to sleep.

The Ranger actually turned out to be pretty cool. Once he figured out I wasn't going to treat him like a fascist pig, he made it clear he was just doing his job, and actually tried to be helpful in suggesting options. Eventually he said that the mesa I'd crossed wasn't day-use, and that I'd be legal if I went back up there to 'rest', I'd be fine. We wound up having a nice little chat.

I let my fatigue convince me to try to find something that was a bit closer that didn't involve climbing, but it became obvious that was not going to be suitable. So, back up the mesa I went, via a fire- road until I found familiar ground. I scoped out a set of bushes that I could climb beneath, laid out the pad/ bag and sacked out for the night. I'm getting used to this sleeping outside stuff! MUCH easier to set up and tear down, as my experience at Muir had proved wasn't such a bad thing!

It was a foggy, damp night and my nest was situated on slanted ground and on top of an exposed root... but considering how tired I was it didn't matter much! I slept pretty well.