Saturday, February 11, 2017

Change of Plans

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I guess it's safe to say that the days are over where I am the only one waiting at the Pantoll Gate for the 7 a.m. opening time. I arrived way too early this morning, but there were already a couple of cars ahead of me. Instead of getting in line I pulled into the Pantoll parking lot and took my coffee for a short stroll along the Matt Davis Trail. Opening time came and went, and a ranger finally came by and said there'd been a mud slide, so the park gate was closed for the duration.

We all drove a short way down toward Bootjack and parked along the side of the road. I headed up toward Rock Spring to do the hike I'd originally planned for the day. I'm not that familiar with the south side of the mountain, but I figured I couldn't go wrong simply by heading up. And up. And up!

No complaints though. It was a beautiful morning.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the Rock Spring parking lot, still empty on a sunny Saturday morning. That doesn't happen very often.

I hiked out the Simmons Trail toward Barth's Retreat, then detoured onto unmapped trails to reverse a hike I did not too long ago. The throne rock is still there. I'd planned to have a relaxing sit on the throne to take in the view, but the seat was still in cold shade and looked downright uncomfortable, being made of rocks.

I was quite disappointed in the afungular nature of the woods. Today is collecting day for tomorrow's Fungus Fair out in Pt. Reyes, and I can only hope the woods up there are looking a lot more lively than Tam's.

It wasn't too hard to backtrack my last hike. I did veer off the wrong way at one point, but I soon corrected myself and in short order I was in recognizable territory. There was the little meadow in which I'd briefly been snowed on. There were the mossy rocks where I took a rest stop. The big tipi sculpture is still there.

I thought I had the whole mountain to myself until I saw, way off in the distance, a couple of bicyclists riding along Bolinas Ridge. They must have been loving the day with no cars to worry about.

As I began my descent toward Cataract Creek I was surprised to hear human voices. Sure enough, there was some kind of huge hiking group heading toward Laurel Dell. I saw a few more people on the trail as I circled back toward Rock Spring and figured the rangers must have finally opened the gate. 

Nope! The parking lot was still empty, but there were a few hikers here and there, and I ran into some trail runners who'd just cruised up the Old Mine Trail. Besides great lungs and strong thighs, I figure they must have knees of steel, as I was feeling some wear and tear even while descending at a walk.

With another sunny day forecast for tomorrow, I'm thinking another southside hike might be in order. Maybe loop out around West Point Inn or something. Get it while it lasts.

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