Five years into producing this HikingAutism website, the majority of hike posts are about trails—popular and lesser known—in my nearby parts of San Francisco, Marin County, and San Mateo County. They are wonderful trails, but they are also easy for me to get to.
This week marks Hike Notes #190 (almost 200!). Now I have to think a little harder and drive a little farther to find new trails to photograph and write about. I don’t always have the time or energy for a longer drive to a new trail. I skim nearby areas on maps, hoping I’ve missed a great place nearby.
Once in a while a hidden treasure pops up. Last week I noticed an unnamed trail in the Marin Headlands showing as a thin line on online maps, but not appearing at all on my paper map. The faint line indicated a path that would lead across bluffs overlooking the Golden Gate, which connects the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.
A day after wildfire smoke cleared, the crystal-clear visibility made the scenery radiate. We made our way to a small parking pull-off that only showed on the satellite map. It took a minute to find the unmarked path. We started down the narrow trail, pushing past overgrown coyote brush, dodging autumn-red poison oak leaves, and stepping over coyote scat.
We walked past a patch of trees (that protected a bench facing the water!), and our breath was taken away. Here were glorious views from angles unique to this jutting bluff. We followed the path through low scrub with yellow flowers, ice plants, and more coyote brush.
The map was vague but logic dictated that the path would dead end on a cliff. I ventured ahead, but my husband kept our son back a good distance from cliff edges, as he tends to move in unexpected bursts.
There’s a point at high places where a sense of gravity kicks in, even when you’re standing on flat ground. It was a powerful feeling I remember when standing next to Niagara Falls as a kid, and I feel it now when walking along trails with steep drops. I turned back up the trail after feeling the end-of-the-trail gravity feeling.
All of us stumble onto unplanned paths in our lives. This trail offered glorious views and unexpected delight. Yet some of the unexpected turns our lives take are difficult. It takes work to find the positive aspects of the darker trails.
May we revel in the simple joys of the serendipitous happy sections of our journey. Gratitude makes the hard parts easier. Keep putting one foot forward!
This week’s Hike Notes, Battery Wallace-Marin Headlands View Path, a lesser-known spot offering stunning views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Point Bonita Lighthouse.
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Hike Notes 190: Battery Wallace-Marin Headlands View Path
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