Sunday, January 10, 2010

East Peak of Mt. Tam - No Cigar

Inspired by Lorien's New Year's Hike and Cigar festivities, I set out early (moderately) to hike the east peak of Mt. Tamapais.  I brought a dominican cigarillo and, lacking a normal lighter, a blue-flame torch.  With the lack of planning that is fairly typical of my life, I remembered to buy some water at the last stop before heading up to the national park.  I parked up by the ranger station and picked up the trail at the Pantoll trailhead. 
    Compared to some recent hikes and expeditions, the trail to the summit was very relaxed, sloping gently upwards, and allowing for some spectacular views of the Pacific Coast.  On clear days, you can see all the way to the Sierra Nevada mountains, but this was not a clear day.  It was still pretty though, and the cloud layer looked like the ocean, with taller hills breaking through the fog and resembling dark islands.
    Like a jackass, I packed the lighter at the bottom of my day pack, allowing it's tip to get broken off by the water bottle.  So, no cigar at the top.  My flask, typically reserved for Irish Whiskey or Bourbon, was contaminated with vodka...a favor for a friend, don't ask.  
    I emerged from the trail to find that a road and parking lot was present from the other side, so there were actually quite a few people huddled around the scenic area a few hundred feet from the top.  Of this large group of people who had driven all the way there, few folks pushed up the last 0.2 miles to the actual peak.  It always surprises me how short a distance people venture away from the parking lots of beautiful's almost like they want to say they have gone somewhere, without actually having the experience of doing it.  "Been there, done that, got a T-shirt" comes to mind.  It's even more disturbing in a section like Mt. Tam, which is a very mild uphill route.

*steps off soapbox*

The view from the top was pretty sweet, and even on this cloudy day, the Pacific stretched far past the capability of my vision.  I tried to take a picture of myself with the view as a backdrop, but the short arms that hinder my boxing also makes these self-portraits difficult. 
    There wasn't a whole lot of wildlife that I could see, probably because of all the people, but I did see a large hawk, quite a few squirrels, and I surprised a large bobcat on the way back.  Typically, they are very skittish and avoid people, and he was only the 2nd that I have ever seen outside of captivity.
    Overall, this was a nice hike that I would do again, and it was good to be able to find some degree of wilderness so close to the Bay Cities.

East Peak Elevation: 2,572 feet
Out & Back Mileage: 7.96 miles


Lorien said...

You should come to the Bataan Marathon! I'd be interested to see what you're like in real life. Plus, you and I seem to share the same soap box. It's amazing how far people AREN'T willing to venture. It's like they don't understand that the best things in life require a little bit of work.

Linda said...

again, you've inspired me.

I'm really a fatass stuck in a littlier girl's body. i get winded just going up the stairs to my apartment.

I remember I went on ONE 8 mile hike in 2005. We went off trail and got lost and found ourselves on a freeway and hitch hiked back. That's the extent of my hiking stories.

We have a place called Enchanted Rock close to Austin. Maybe soon, I can rally a troop to go with me. (For safety)

The fact that we went on your own and with a flask, I love. Reminds me of Walden. Very transcendalist of you.

Anonymous said...

Mt. Tam is a really pretty hike. I've done it a few times and it is nice to be reminded that nature can be found close to home.

As for the flask, drinking by yourself during the day, huh? Quality.

We should go on this hike in Pacifica (I'll have to look into the specific name.) It has a grueling uphill stretch and it's pretty exposed, but on nice day, the views can make you think you're in Hawaii. I even promise not to stay too far ahead of you!

 ALH said...

Beautiful views and I agree with your soapbox position.

Thanks for your comment, by the look of this post you had a far better day than any coffee and doughnut kind of day I had.

floreta said...

Sounds fun, and peaceful!

"With the lack of planning that is fairly typical of my life, I remembered to buy some water at the last stop before heading up to the national park."

Sounds like me, too :P

And yeah, I don't get the people who come, take photo opps then leave w/out REALLY experiencing it. But most people are unfit, no? sigh.

Actually I'd REALLY love to live in the Bay area sometime and so I should do this trail :P

Deidre said...

Sounds like a great hike! :)

Love the photos. and self protraits are great. I kind of like them better when they cut off part of your head or you miss yourself all together :)

Martin said...

Lorien - Yeah! What always gets me is that, if you dont like camping or hiking, thats fine, dont go! It just seems strange to me to go somewhere beautiful, walk 10 meters from your car, and then turn around and go home.

Linda- "Transcendentalist..." sounds so much better than alcoholic. Thanks ;)

Clara - I'm down.

ALH - Dont be so sure...there's not a whole lot better than donuts.

Floreta - Ive been pleasantly surprised by the amount of good hiking within a short drive from San Francisco. Ive been heading up to Marin mostly, but there is all sorts of stuff in the east bay that I still need to check out.

Diedre - If you like the self-portraits with half the face missing, you would have liked the first 6 attempts...

 ALH said...

Thanks for your comment on my recent post! I perused through your other blogs, great stuff! Can't wait to read more of your adventures.

And I suppose you are right, there aren't many things in this world better than doughnuts!

Angie said...

Definitely not worth it unless you're actually venturing further into the woods. Looks like a lovely place. We have a cool park out here in Ohio called Nelson Ledges. Great place to hike and climb rock formations (not brave enough to scale the actual cliffs).

sparklegreen said...

I like the pictures you posted!

Martin said...

ALH - I need to come up with more adventures so that I get some good stories. *brainstorms*

Angie - I just checked out Nelsen Ledges on google images and it looks rad. WANT.

Sparklegreen - Thanks ;)