Outdoors Archives

I like to go outdoors a lot. Primarily hiking, occasionally camping, and sometimes other fun activities.

Atypical Point Reyes

A few weekends ago, I gave myself a four-hour window to hike a 13-mile loop in Point Reyes (before racing home to return my Zipcar). Turns out four hours was a little tight. I ate my lunch in motion and jogged a few downhill sections, but I also managed to take a few photos that show a different side of this national seashore.

Forest scene from Point Reyes

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Morning on the Coastal Trail

We were still waking up early a week after returning from France, so on our first weekend back we drove out to Mt Tam State Park at 7:30 in the morning—and that was after a leisurely breakfast—to reconnect with home.

Mt Tamalpais State Park Coastal Trail

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Hiking the GR5

Day 0

When we arrived in Landry, after a long day of travel, the hotelkeepers told us that the only restaurant in town was closed. The best they could offer was a simple meat and cheese plate. “With wine?” we asked. “Of course.” Not expecting much, they brought out a platter with a healthy slab of Beaufort, a wedge of tomme, a goat camembert, a whole saucisson, some sliced salami, a loaf of crusty bread, salad greens, dressing, and of course, a bottle of wine. We were giddy at our good fortune. And we needed it. The next morning we would begin a multiday hike along the GR5+GR55 through the French Alps, attempting to cover 125 miles in nine days.

Day 1

We hiked 11 miles in fog and misty rain to reach our first refuge. Their website mentioned that we might have the possibilité de goûter le lait tiède de la traite du soir (possibility to taste the warm milk from the evening milking). Yes, please! Twice a day they milked two brown Tarentaise cows, using the fresh, raw milk for cafe au lait, hot chocolate, and homemade fromage blanc for dessert, served with jam and dulce de leche—also made from the milk. They claimed that only four people in Savoie still handmilk, two of whom work at the refuge. Of course Stephanie volunteered to help that evening.

In the forest and fog on the GR5
Forest and fog 1

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Preparing for the Alps on Mt Tam

In 3 weeks, Stephanie and I will be hiking about 125 miles of the GR5 through the French Alps over 9 days. It will be the longest (in both days and miles) that the two of us have hiked together, and it’s a day longer than I hiked with my Dad on the PCT. We’ll be staying at gîtes and mountain refuges along the way, with meals (demi-pensions) included—which means we won’t have to carry food, tents, or sleeping bags. Even so, it occurred to me that I should probably prepare for this endeavor, at least a little. That partly explains my hike last weekend, and partly explains my hike this weekend, and partly explains my hope to go hiking next weekend.

Also, Stephanie had to be in Corte Madera on Saturday to teach a cheesemaking class, so I tagged along. While she was cutting curds, I was making tracks through Mt Tamalpais State Park, covering nearly 10 miles in just under 4 hours.

Mt Tamalpais State Park trail view

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Return to Butano

This morning I had an errand to run in San Mateo. I had access to a car, and Stephanie was busy, so I decided to go hiking afterwards. I was thinking Butano State Park might be convenient, as it’s also south of San Francisco, but it turned out to be an hour from San Mateo, over the peninsula and all the way to Pescadero.

My cousin Christy introduced me to Butano only two months after I moved to California—which I think counts as my first hike in the state. Looking back over the brief blog post I wrote about that day, I was amused to discover that we hiked there exactly 10 years ago, making my return visit an anniversary of sorts.

I arrived, paid my entrance fee, and studied the map for a promising loop. They described the 9.5-mile Canyon Loop as “strenuous”—that looked like the hike for me. Besides crossing paths with a few people at the beginning and the end, I had the trail entirely to myself.

I hiked at a swift pace, stopping only to take the occasional photo. At about the halfway point I sat down and had a little lunch of cherry tomatoes, string cheese, beef jerky, and macadamia nuts. I completed the loop in a little over 3 hours, and I was quite happy to be done after the steep descent on the Año Nuevo trail.

View of the trail from the Canyon Loop at Butano State Park, near Pescadero, CA

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