Roaming Zen

If this late season rain abates, the next roam will be on Sunday 29th April. I am still deciding what the most fun route would be!

On the most recent roam, Glen Canyon was not only green, but overrun with wildflowers crowding onto the trails. Islais Creek was running merrily along the bottom.

There was a chilly wind at Grand View on our recent visit.

This photo is from the first roam up Mount Davidson. We didn’t linger long on our recent visit as the wind was also persistent and chilly.

We roamed around the Presidio on a warm afternoon in February (not the day this picture was taken) to take in the various Andy Goldsworthy pieces. There were raptors and butterflies, and blossoms breaking out everywhere.

Batteries to Bluffs
We have visited Marshall’s Beach a couple of times now, and one of the participants sent a picture of me sitting at the beach last year.

Ocean Beach January that time
This picture was taken at Ocean Beach on a January day a couple of years ago; we roamed at low tide on New Year’s Day, then went up to Sutro Heights, where we got a better view of the sand mandalas that were being created.

Looking down Sanchez
Looking down Sanchez from Liberty Hill, as roamed in early December.

Twin Peaks
The view north from Twin Peaks, which we climbed in May and November – the latter time a perfect autumn afternoon.

On the crags
Sitting on the crags by Heptonstall in the first English roam.

Heron's Head
The view from Heron’s Head, visited during the bicycle roam on September 23rd.

Kite Hill
On top of Kite Hill, visited in July.

Land's End
Along the Golden Gate from the Land’s End trail, which featured in the solstice roam.

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 a group from 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 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.

The lost art of writing
Corona Heights

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.


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!