Those of you who know me and/or who read my blog, know that I live on the frontier of Wyoming and that I LOVE Wyoming and my “back yard”, the beloved Wind River Range.
But, I am also falling in love with the San Francisco area — specifically the Marin Headlands.
What helps me love this place are days like the one I experienced Thursday.
Because it can be, well, difficult, to get this girl out of the frontier and often travel doesn’t go as planned, I build a buffer day into these trips. I depart out of Riverton, WY, on Wednesday afternoon and arrive here Wednesday night. Thursday is a free day to allow for travel if plane doesn’t show up on Wednesday afternoon to take me out of the frontier.
Fortunately, I was able to get out and arrived here Wednesday night, which meant Thursday was all mine and I wanted to further experience the outdoor beauty of this area.
Last month, I hiked from surf to summit. Read more about that amazing hike from Stinson Beach to top of Mt. Tamalpais.
The adventure started at Muir Beach, and it was cold! I quickly learned that 41 degrees and windy, at sea level, is colder than same conditions in my high and dry Wyoming. Fortunately, I had packed some “Wyoming winter clothing.”
I hiked from Muir Beach, along the Coastal Trail, to Pirates’ Cove, to Tennessee Valley, up to Coyote Ridge and then to and through Green Gulch organic farm and Zen Center back to Muir Beach. All told, it was about seven or eight miles and 1,600′ or so of elevation gain.
It was a spectacular hike. By my standards, which are high due to the beauty and ruggedness of the Wind River Range, I rate this hike as “epic” for many reasons, which I’ll share with you here.
Despite the cold start, there was blue sky as I hiked the “shore-hugging” Coastal Trail. This stretch provided awe-inspiring scenery, with the Pacific Ocean surf “crashing” against the shore below and a trail that provided just enough lung-busting to keep me warm. The wind was howling but invigorating all the same.
About 1.5 miles into the hike, after a short downhill hike to the shore, is Pirates’ Cove. From my understanding, this is a location where people would bootleg liquor during the Prohibition. (As far I could tell, today there no is hooch to be had.) I stood for a few minutes just to listen to and feel — to fully experience — the ocean’s power and sounds and smells. This is a great little cove and worth the side trip.
From there, I continued toward Tennessee Valley, a lush, rolling valley that is home to some big raptors and other wildlife. This part of the hike was surreal, as I hiked in and out of low clouds and mist.
Next, I left the Tennessee Valley Trail and headed up to Coyote Ridge. From top of the ridge, I had panoramic views that were a little tempered by low moving clouds and fog. This was a long, sustained, pretty steep uphill, which suited me just fine. I hiked pretty steadily up for 20 or so minutes before reaching an intersection of trails.
Once up the hill, I continued toward Middle Green Gulch before finding the Green Gulch Trail. I had a tip from a friend, Chad, who is a local, who described the Green Gulch Farm, home also to a Zen Center, as “well…very…Zen…very, very special!!!”
After hiking up and around some ridge-tops and hills and through a string of Eucalyptus trees, I arrived at the Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center. Here, I won’t lie, I felt a little lost and like I was trespassing, not sure if I was “on the right trail,” but was greeted by a nice gentleman who provided some great interpretation for me.
I learned that Green Gulch is an organic farm and Zen Center, that among other things, hosts about 70 Zen students at a time. I stopped in the small store where a nice woman and man were working. I bought some tea and before continuing on my way, I asked, “Well I’m from Wyoming and I’m trying to fully experience this area today. Is there anything you can offer me in terms of Zen enlightenment or tips to take with me?”
This was great! One told me to “breathe.” The other suggested, “Don’t believe everything you think.” Wow, glad I asked! One of these would have been enough to think around, so I was particularly grateful.
Next, I stopped into the Zen Temple. Unfortunately there was no meditation until later in the day so I couldn’t experience that, which I’m sure would have been an amazing experience. But I talked briefly to an Asian monk there. He didn’t speak English but after trying my best to communicate what I was doing and that I was “sorta lost… I’m from Wyoming and hiking through here … do you have any thoughts for me?” he said, in a very friendly way, to “Just Be.”
What a perfect way to end an amazing hike. I hiked through the farm fields and was soon back to the start, Muir Beach.
To cap the hike, again on a tip from a friend, Sean (also known as S.O.S.), who’s a local, I stopped by the historic and wonderfully quaint Pelican Inn, a bed and breakfast, complete with dining room and pub, that is right near Muir Beach. Capturing the spirit of 16th Century England west country, this place is incredible and should be a must-see for anyone who visits the Muir Beach area. Here, I had a wonderful salad of organic greens and a cup of spearmint tea.
It was a perfect day that included new and awesome scenery, some great exercise, invigorating, fresh, coastal air, solitude, Zen and culture!
But wait, still not over. The day was capped when I visited some friends for dinner, which included delicious fresh salmon (a real treat for this Wyoming girl!), and other great eats, completed by some great conversation.
The only thing that could have made this day better would have been to have my husband, Jerry, and our three sons, Wolf, Hayden and Fin, with us. So, I’ll be working on reliving this day with them the next time…
But, like I said, I’m starting to fall in love with this place.
MUIR BEACH TO PIRATES’ COVE:
TENNESSEE VALLEY TO COYOTE RIDGE:
GREEN GULCH FARM & ZEN CENTER:
Thank you Josh Steinitz, Chad Herst, Doug Peck and Sean O’Sullivan for providing tips that helped me have this amazing experience while visiting your neck of the woods.