If we go somewhere on foot, we know the way perfectly, whereas if we go by motor car or airplane we are hardly there at all, it becomes merely a dream – Chögyam Trungpa
I couldn’t ask for a better quote to sum up Roaming Zen!
Now I have only one date scheduled for the summer:
September 23rd: Every now and again Roaming Zen trades in hiking shoes for two wheels. On Saturday September 23rd, at 2pm, we will meet at the Cupid’s Bow sculpture on the Embarcadero between the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge, and take a leisurely pedal south along the Embarcadero and Mission Bay, taking in San Francisco’s industrial maritime heritage alongside its newest developments, and stopping at a beautiful and little-visited nature reserve on the way. This is a very flat route, almost entirely
on quiet and car-free roads, with a short distance of gravel paths.
The view from Heron’s Head.
After that, since I will be in England for a month, roams will be more or less spontaneous depending on the weather.
There are still many routes I want to try. The recent lovely loop from Mountain Lake around the Presidio via Lobos Creek, Baker Beach, the National Cemetery and the Spire reminded me that it would be worth repeating the tour of all four Goldsworthy installations in the Presidio. Twin Peaks and the Sutro woods always beckon, and I have in mind another longer one-way roam, along the lines of the New Year’s Day jaunt from the Embarcadero to Baker Beach and the Solstice roam from Crissy Field to Land’s End. This would be a green trek north from Glen Canyon to Crissy Field. Stay tuned for emails about these.
On top of Kite Hill, visited in July.
Along the Golden Gate from the Land’s End trail, which featured in the solstice roam.
The view north from Twin Peaks, which we climbed on May 21st.
Everyone spread along Marshall’s beach for an ocean-side sit at the roam on March 11th.
The genesis for Roaming Zen was perhaps my shuso practice period at Tassajara, where I noticed that I derived as much energy from being on the trails or up the road, among the trees and by the creek, as I did from the hours in the zendo. It was perhaps crystallised by a visit to Tassajara with Young Urban Zen a year or two later: after the days of work, a group of us set off for a hike along the Horse Pasture trail, and at one stage, hearing all the talk of people’s pre-occupations and mundane affairs, someone in the group asked if we could all hike in silence for a while and properly take in the surroundings. Afterwards, the agreed verdict was that the silence had transformed the hike.
And so, having tried versions of it at City Center, Green Gulch and Tassajara, one of my main teachings since leaving Zen Center a year ago has been to gather a small group of people, sit with them, introduce a little quote or theme, and lead them around a chosen route, cultivating mindful presence through walking and sitting quietly in the midst of city life.
There are so many little corners of San Francisco that lend themselves to the activity, surrounded by beauty, views, and sometimes quiet. We have discovered hills and canyons, creeks and beaches, staircases and alleys; we have listened to birds and waves, watched butterflies and bees, smelled flowers and ocean spray. We have looked over all sides of San Francisco and to the mountains beyond.
I doubt many people reading this need much persuasion about the benefits of hiking, but this article lists some of them.
I want to give some credit to OpenStreetMap, for featuring much more detail in paths and trails than I ever get from Apple Maps or Google Maps – I would not have found some of these routes without it.
The aptly named Grand View Park