Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trail Running in the Marin Headlands: A Fastpacking Adventure from San Francisco to Point Reyes - Part 2

The wild turkeys made me smile. I had flashbacks of staying in a hovel in Hawaii and being awoken by roosters. It boded well for my day. On a whim, I phoned the hostel in Point Reyes and they told me they had only one bed for one night. Oops. A large group had booked the place well in advance of yours truly, Ms-Flying-By-The-Seat-Of-Her-Pants. Oh well, I thought. So I unpacked most of my food and left it behind. One night it is.

The turkeys and I awoke to a beautiful day in the Headlands. After only 5 minutes, I had ditched my arm warmers by the time I reached Rodeo lagoon. However, between my re-packing and daylight savings time I had a slightly late departure time. Oh well, I thought. I'll get the extra light in the evening.

Flowers at Rodeo Lagoon

The first 5 miles of the Coastal Trail from Rodeo Lagoon to Muir Beach offer up some stunning scenery and some huge ascents and descents. The trail climbs and descends twice, but the scenery just pulls you along. I shared the trail with two mountain bikers, climbing out of Tennessee Valley. We were going the same speed and managed to chat a little as we climbed upwards. At the top of this climb we were rewarded with a long clear view of the coast and I let out a giant, "Wooooooohooo!" The boys laughed out loud and told me, "You're just happy to be out running in your running skirt."

They had me figured out already. I am a simple creature.

Outside of Muir Beach, I made my way up the Heather Cutoff and climbed upwards for almost 4 miles to the Pantoll Ranger Station. I enjoyed a hillside of pink flowers, I saw a coyote pouncing on some invisible prey, I was buzzed by hummingbirds and lazy turkey vultures and I scared a couple of deer who crashed wildly through the woods. Near the Dipsea Trail, I was joined briefly by a guy on a mountain bike who looked like Santa Claus, except the fitter California version. As we were filling our water bottles at Pantoll, Santa looked at my legs and exclaimed, "Hey girl, you're all pumped up!!" It's good to know my quads are still show stoppers. I was still laughing when I hit the Matt Davis Trail and continued on to the Coastal Trail.

The miles flew by as I cruised the 6.5 miles between Pantoll and the Bolinas Ridge Trail. This part of the trail is just so sweet. The singletrack. The colour of the earth. The views. The flowers. It's all so pretty.

Up until this point, I had no problem navigating the well marked trails. Between my maps and my memories of the Miwok 100km, I was doing well. Only one problem came up, and this was because my memory failed me and there was a gap in my maps between the Headlands and Point Reyes. I had a little detour, but figured it out and found my way on to the Bolinas RidgeTrail. I enjoyed the change of scenery as the singletrack changed to double-track and my world became dark, muddy, lush and green. I felt small running through these quiet, massive trees. I ran 5 miles on the trail, before I took a sharp detour down the Randall Trail.

When I reached Highway 1, I had been running for 8 hours and it was already 5:30. I quickly realized that I wasn't going to make it before dark. Thanks my late start, day light savings time, my propensity to take photos and the stunning scenery that kept stopping me dead in my tracks, I was going to need a Plan B. I had my headlamp, but I was nervous about the unfamiliar trails. Fortunately for me, there was a couple of hikers at the trailhead who gave me a lift to the Olema Point Reyes Information Centre. From there I enjoyed my first taste of the trails of Point Reyes and cruised the last miles into the hostel before it got dark. I was tired, happy and hungry. My energy and my legs had been great all day. I couldn't believe how good I felt after my 32ish miles!!

When I arrived at the Point Reyes Hostel, I immediately met up with the group leaders who were responsible for the 20 high school students who were the "group reservation" at the hostel. When I told them I had travelled by foot, on trail, from the city, they thought that was pretty cool. I had to repeat it a few times: Yes, I ran here. On trails. By myself. You ran 40 miles? Yes. On trails.

After that, it was my turn to be surprised. In turn, they told me it was no problem for me to stay additional nights and that they would be happy to share their food with me. Woooop! Here's to good people and good fortune. I was going to get to explore the trails of Point Reyes afterall!!


Danni said...

Yay for the big group!!! You ran a lot of miles sister.

JeffO said...

That is so cool! This is a great adventure! You're like a running-hippie or something.

Backofpack said...

How warm was it? It sounds like so much fun...

Leslie said...

Ha! I was a stinky hippie after 5 days of running in the same outfit!

It was perfect running temperature for me. Sunny, warm enough for the T-shirt but barely cracking a sweat. Comfortable in the shade, too!

Hone said...

Sweet trip. You live life tot the fullest. That is inspiring.

goSonja said...

Ohhhh, I am loving these posts. What a great running day that must have been and YEA for happy Californians! I can't wait to hear more of the story, I have pulled up Google maps and am trying to follow your route somewhat, so impressive!

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