In a couple of my earliest posts, I alluded to the difficulties I have sometimes had crossing the Golden Gate Bridge when a sense of vertigo kicks in. This is rarer now, perhaps since the worst incident is already few years ago, and I am not crossing the bridge quite as often as I used to. I have come across the equivalent scenario in my runs about the city, though. Not from being on the highest points, or on the steepest slopes; rather It is a similar situation to being on the bridge: at the upper end of Market, where it turns into Portola, there is a stretch of viaduct. The road rises over a bowl of land, what I assume to be a watershed, on the slopes of Twin Peaks, and is at times three storeys above the houses on adjacent Grand View – which I assume was the old route through the area. To the east, wonderful views across the steep slopes into Noe Valley, over to Bernal Heights, downtown, Mission Bay, and across the water.
The first time I did this route, there was a typically strong westerly wind blowing over the saddle that Portola follows, and I felt very panicky with such a drop just the other side of the railing. If I had fixed ideas about things, I would not have taken that route again; instead, I have allowed myself to meet each time as it comes. I have tried it downhill, and there has been no problem. I tried it after dark and found the lack of visual distraction a help. On Monday I tried it on a beautiful clear and still afternoon, and had no problem.
I take that route because it leads to the head of Glen Canyon, which is a lovely long stretch of quiet unpaved running.
On the run in the dark, since it had been raining, I paid great attention to the possibility of slipping in the mud, and hitting my head on the various tree limbs that lie across the trail alongside the creek. On the return part of the run though, I forgot another zen lesson (one that I wrote about a few years ago, from a bike ride to Green Gulch): keep paying attention in each moment. I had decided to cut across Dolores Park, and barely a few yards in, I slipped on the wet grass in a way that I imagined looked like a cartoon banana skin incident, landing flat on my back with my head taking a whack, though luckily my backside took most of the weight of my landing, and I don’t seem to have suffered any cognitive impairment this time…
The route I was on also takes me down Billy Goat Hill, which is turning into one of my favourite corners of the city.