Seamless Blue Sky

It’s really not hard to remember the joys of going to Wilbur for the weekend. On Friday as I traveled up, I was not in a rush, and the traffic was no worse than usual. When I turned off the 80 onto the 505, I could feel the real adventure beginning. Highway 16 was a realm of beauty all of its own in the low autumn sun. 

Since the forecast was good, we decided to go ahead with a mindful hike on the Saturday, and after I had unpacked, I took one of the resident bikes up to the beginning of the Smelter Trail, which I sometimes hesitated at as I tried to remember which side of which gully to take, and found that there were new signs pointing the way. I took the first stretch of the trail, and reveled in the absolute stillness of the afternoon.

In the evening – and on  Saturday evening as well – I could barely keep my eyes open as I tried to read. I had realised that I had barely had a complete day off in many weeks, even though I do have plenty of space in my schedule. I have resolved to get away this upcoming weekend as a way of doing that; as relaxing as Wilbur is, I still had my teaching commitments. Thankfully, I slept deeply, with many strong dreams, as I typically did when I was there.

I was awake early, and with the temperature being close to freezing, I wrapped up well and took myself off to the nature preserve valley to catch the sunrise. The moon was still up. As I arrived, the Fountain of Life geyser was having one of its regular outpourings, so I took plenty of pictures of that. By the time I had wandered around getting the pictures I wanted it had spouted again, just as the sun was coming up over the hill, so I was shooting with wild abandon and great glee.

There was a good turn-out for the sit, and many of the people also came on the hike. Conditions were ideal, though it did cloud over right when we got up to the medicine wheel, so we didn’t sit and enjoy the view as much as we might have. 

Sunday however, was completely clear, from the canopy of stars when I woke up, to the daytime blue. I went up the first section of the Manzanita trail to catch the sunrise, and then waited for it to reach the bottom of the valley, which took longer than expected; I did not get the backlit steam pictures I had hoped for, but I did catch some of the mineral colours around the hot springs. More sitting, and more relaxing meant I felt like I had had a full good time of it.

Glad as I was to be completely away from the news cycle for a couple of days, it felt like I had a lot to catch up on once I was back online, and I have tried to make the most of all my gaps in schedule both to relax and get everything done. It helps that this is a football-free as we head towards the World Cup. I know all the reasons why it can be boycotted, and know of the deaths, and the tremendous corruption of FIFA (and UEFA), and there are many other ways in which the West engages with the Middle East that are also fairly repulsive, so I will be watching, and hopefully enjoying, the football.

I know I say this every year, but I always remember that the middle of November was my first experience of San Francisco. This week’s weather is reminiscent of what I had then, cold around the edges, but bright and warmer during the days. I’ll take that for as long as it lasts.

The Fountain of Light, backlit.
Coming down from the medicine wheel on Saturday.
First sun over Wilbur on Sunday.
Golden hour.

Changeable

The wind and rain have come in together in the past week, and it feels seasonally chilly. On Saturday we had no real views on the roam, with low damp clouds (with a brief rainbow); Sunday was clear; Monday it threatened to rain so we sat indoors (and also found a more spiffy location to use in the future) only for the rain to hold off until the evening; on Tuesday I got quite lucky with a potentially damp commute.

I had a sense of foreboding about the elections here in the US, and having an eclipse that morning didn’t seem like a good portent, but when I woke up on Wednesday, I had a feeling that things could have been way worse. Locally I was extremely happy that JFK promenade in the park is here to stay, and with the clock-change dawn coming earlier, I was out on my bike first thing on Wednesday to stretch my legs, catching a beautiful sunrise and setting moon on my way from the park to the bridge and back.

Today, all being well, I will make it to Wilbur for the first time since June. I expect the mornings to be cold, and hopefully the weather kind enough to allow for a mindful hike on Saturday. Beyond that, having wrapped up the Tenzo Kyokun with a lively final class, we are looking at potentially interweaving Dogen classes in the spring, and I am starting to plot for a return to England. Stay tuned!

A couple of typical skies from ferry rides last week
A damp city on Tuesday morning – I missed most of the rain.
Tuesday afternoon skies from the BART station.
Looking out to Point Bonita on my Wednesday morning bike ride.
One of my favourite spots along Crissy Field, from the Wednesday ride.

Back to the Land

Many parts of the trip up to Wilbur felt incredibly familiar, from the roads and freeways taken, to the stop at Trader Joe’s in Fairfield, to turning off the 20 to take the bumpy dirt road up the river valley. It was nice to see that a few changes had been made (positive ones in my book) and that the place was in great shape. I was welcomed back by the people I knew who were still there, and warmly welcomed by the new managers, all of which felt very nourishing.

And as I walked back to the buildings, having parked the rental car, I could feel my body relaxing as it did when I arrived at Tassajara a couple of months ago. Only this time, I did not subsequently tweak my back and have trouble moving. In fact, with a combination of walking, sitting, being in the baths, and ignoring the projects I thought I might take care of while I was there, I came away feeling in better shape than I have for a while. 

Although I was used to running the trails when I went before the pandemic, just focusing on walking this time allowed me to take in the landscape much more slowly, to appreciate the trees and the fauna – the rabbits and deer, quail and turkey families, and that really fed my enjoyment of the slow pace of life there. Having my camera with me, and taking an abundance of photographs also enlivened me.

It was cooler than expected when I arrived, and on Saturday it didn’t warm up much. I took that as a good sign to take a hike in the early afternoon, and found myself half way up to the ridge hearing thunder off to the north, with ominous clouds that came our way, and then dropped rain for about half an hour while I sheltered under an oak – more concerned for my camera than for myself. Sunday was clear, and the sun started warming everything early, so it was pretty toasty by the time I headed home in the afternoon. I had managed to turn a little pink from sitting out at the end of the afternoon on Saturday, so I thought it best not to linger in the sun this time.

It seemed quieter than usual, but the people who came for meditation had a lot of good questions, so I enjoyed the interactions, as well as other conversations I had over the weekend. I can’t wait to go back!

A Friday evening walk upstream along the valley.
Saturday afternoon with looming clouds.
Looking down onto the valley.
The rain heading our way.
Soft light after the rain.
Bright sun first thing on Sunday morning.

Hongzhi

‘People of the way journey through the world responding to conditions, carefree and without restraint. Like clouds finally raining, like moonlight following the current, like orchids growing in shade, like spring arising in everything, they act without mind, they respond with certainty.’ (Cultivating the Empty Field)

Cathering brought some Hongzhi into yesterday’s talk to the Hebden Bridge sangha, which was lovely to listen to, and inspired me to take the book down off my shelves again. When I checked when I had used favourite line before, a couple of Wilbur-related posts showed up, poignant reminders of pre-pandemic springs.

The city workers were trimming trees along my street on Monday, and I rescued some late blossoms

Alternative Scenarios

The past two Sundays in the Bay Area have been marked by strong winds.

On the first of these Sundays, having seen the forecast, I knew I would not be comfortable riding over the bridge. So I headed south, and positively flew down Great Highway, which had been closed again for a race, with the tail wind. Of course, on the way back up from the Peninsula, as I remember from the very first time I road up Camino Real, heading into the teeth of a wind funneling down between the hills is no fun. I did my best this time around by heading for the bay shore, more in the lee of San Bruno Mountain, and it was not so grim.

Our Embarcadero sit the next day was challenging for everybody, with the north wind cutting through many layers of clothes, unmitigated by the sunshine. I was glad to ride home vigourously and get somewhere sheltered.

Last weekend I was up at Wilbur. The wind overnight on Saturday had kept the temperatures above freezing, but again there was little warmth in the sun. Sitting on the yoga deck, the plastic sheeting rippled and a part of the frame was banging. Back in the city, the wind had brought warm air, so I did the Monday sit in a t-shirt and felt pretty toasty. Afterwards, I did a meditation in a meeting room which always has noisy air-conditioning. In my closing observations I returned to words I had used at Wilbur on Sunday: the mind is always apt to create alternative scenarios. Wouldn’t it be better if it were ten degrees warmer or not as windy? Or, in the latter case, wouldn’t it be nicer to sit outside in the warm sun? And along with that, how we impose our ideas on the circumstances of the moment: the wind is too disturbing; the air-conditioner is too noisy. Instead of pushing things away, or shutting them out, can we just let conditions be as they are?

One of the participants in the latter session asked how we can do that. Staying engaged and curious, a continuous opening rather than closing, was the response I came up with. I might need to bring these stories to another session I am doing this week, as part of a team-building off-site, where I have been told that harmonising the group is the priority.

I had had a preliminary engagement with this topic on Saturday morning, when it had been clear and frosty at Wilbur (I would say I left the city under clear skies, but unlike at Wilbur, there was the typical low-hanging brown haze visible around the bay as I drove up). I was setting up the cushions, and the cold of the floor of the deck reminded me of all the hours on the engawa – the walkway around the zendo – at Tassajara, whether I was playing one of the instruments, or waiting as part of an oryoki serving crew on biting winter mornings. That was really a practice of making the unwanted wanted (I forgot that I had brought this up in connection with Wilbur): this was the reality of being at Tassajara (just as the cold deck was the reality of being at Wilbur on Saturday), so how are you going to meet it?

DSCF2193.jpgReally clear skies on the way into Wilbur on Friday afternoon.

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DSCF2251.jpgI enjoyed spending time with Frank on Friday afternoon, and, as a cat should, he was enjoying the late sunshine.

DSCF2287.jpgThe full moon setting on Sunday morning.

DSCF2267.jpgThe bathhouse was steaming away in the freezing temperatures on Saturday morning.

Lessons Of The Landscape

‘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.

Last year at this time, my intention to get plenty of exercise in my free time was thwarted, mainly by breaking the frame on my road bike, though the wet weather did not help.

This year I have been doing a little better, and along the way, I have been contemplating Trungpa’s quote. As I have been walking, running, riding and driving, I have felt more and more immersed in the local topography. The crosstown trail last week brought home to me how San Francisco is a built-over and filled-in version of the whole landscape of the area: intricately folded land, with long ridges, deep valleys, and water coursing down the hills to form the huge wetlands of the bay.

A shorter walk I took on New Year’s Eve was part of my continued exploring of the area around Meadowsweet and Camino Alto that I started in the spring; I found trails taking me over from the north side to Horse Hill, with views back to the city, a pair of coyotes sunning themselves on the grassy slopes; working my way back to meet the top of Camino Alto, and back down the north side of the hill on the little residential roads.

Having only run once in about ten weeks after getting back from England, over Christmas week I managed three runs in the space of seven days, without feeling too beat-up. For the first, I was drawn back to Twin Peaks, as I have been on recent short bike rides around the city, still feeling that sense of home that I experienced a few months ago – and of course there is always the ineffable joy of having climbed to the top of something.

On Christmas Day in Marin, when the forecast was wet, I had another experience of plotting a new route on a map, and finding it differently challenging in real life – mainly as it took a lot longer than I expected; heading out into what shows on some maps as Baltimore Canyon, which ties in with the inscription on the old rail building nearby. It was damp and misty, though not actually raining, and the beautiful creek valley reminded me of Jumble Hole, with fewer rocks and more redwoods. I clmbed the back of King Mountain (alas the summit was gated off), and looped round to the fire road on the bay side – where, as with just about everywhere in this area, the sound of the 101 was most prominent.

My third run was at Wilbur over the weekend – the usual outing up the soft mud of the Smelter Trail as the sun was still warming the hillsides on Saturday afternoon.

I had gone up on Friday, via the 37 which arcs across the north of the bay, through wetlands; with Tam and Diablo dominating their quarters of the landscape, this is where the water cascades down to. The sky was blue, and the expanses seemed mesmerising. Heading up the central valley north of Vacaville, it was clear enough to see the snowy Sierras to the east.

For the first time at Wilbur, I was staying in the red house, in a quaint unevenly-floored room, directly above the fridges, the same kind which in the main building often amuse me when they  kick off in a deep harmonious set of hums.

It was pleasant when I arrived, but there was no sun down at the bathhouse – like at Tassajara through the winter, the hillside was too steep to allow it. In the morning, I woke to luminous clouds and frost.

There was no heat working on the yoga deck, and for the morning session on Saturday, the vents, which I could not find a way to switch off, were just blowing cold air down the back of my neck. Because I find the cold so challenging, I imagine others will struggle with it; the people who came took blankets, wrapped themselves up, and sat happily.

Afterwards I had my lunch outside on the deck of the red house, my back warmed back up by the sun, enjoying Frank’s company, such as he offers it.

Sunday, the weather was the opposite, mild, then, cloudy with drops of rain, that turned more steady as the day went on. I had a lot of time to be creative and productive with end of year tasks, but the sense of relaxation dissipated as I navigated the slippery road out, and three hours of fairly teeming rain all the way back, as the skies grew darker, reminding me of a similar return trip a little over a year ago.

On my bike, staying north of the city allows me an hour of headstart over my typical experience of well-known routes. I have been climbing the hills and riding through the valleys of Marin, the low temperatures down below – the San Geronimo Valley on Sir Francis Drake, Lucas Valley with the redwoods – giving way to warmth on the ‘sunlit uplands’ of Mount Tam on New Year’s Eve, and the grand open hills – which remind me of Cornwall – as I made my way out to the Marshall Wall on New Year’s Day, for the first time in several years. I would have stopped at the Bovine on the way back, but I was worried I would not get started again, and the line was already out of the door. I continued along highway 1, right on top of the San Andreas fault line, so visible from the air when I have flown back in to San Francisco.

The lessons of the landscape around here are the lessons of earthquake and water.

DSCF1719.jpgThe wetlands around highway 37.

DSCF1732.jpgSaturday dawn at Wilbur.

DSCF1746.jpgDifferently beautiful on Sunday morning.

DSCF1740.jpgMorning sun in my room in the red house.

DSCF1751.jpgA wintry afternoon going home.

DSCF1777.jpgMount Tam from Horse Hill on New Year’s Eve, close to where I saw the coyotes.

IMG_2154.jpgFirst light on the mountain, New Year’s Day.

IMG_2174.jpgThe winding road to Marshall.

IMG_2188.jpgHeading south on highway 1 beside Tomales Bay.

Wind, Water, Fire and Earth

It had seemed that California might have escaped the worst of the fires this year, but the Kincade fire put paid to that notion. Before I left for Wilbur on Friday, I took a ride up Twin Peaks, and could see the smoke drifting south, as predicted. On the way up, there was a long line of it over the hills to the west.

There have been some personnel changes at Wilbur and it seemed that my planned visit had fallen through the cracks; when I arrived, I discovered that it was a weekend for a yoga retreat, who were taking over the yoga deck where I would normally offer meditation. As it happened, I had been discussing for at least a year the idea of offering meditation hikes, and had decided with a previous calendar organiser at Wilbur that October would be the perfect time to do it. I had written a blurb for the newsletter – its non-appearance had alerted me that there might be some issues.

Quickly enough it was decided that I could offer the hikes as planned, instead of doing any sitting while the retreat was here. Then it also transpired that the retreat had planned a meditation hike, and would be delighted if I were able to lead it for them. So on Saturday, having taken a couple of people up to the medicine wheel earlier in the morning, I took a large group of retreatants up there  – via the wishing tree – so that they could enjoy the view and enjoy a silent packed lunch. It was a lot of fun, and I am grateful to Katrina and Laura from Moxie Yoga for being open to it.

Hortensia in the office had warned that the wind was due to get up at eleven that night. I was woken at 11:30 by something sounding like a door banging repeatedly; the cabin shook several times in the ferocity of the gusts, and I was hoping that the power lines at the end of the valley had been turned off, as the thought of one of them falling and setting the valley grass on fire was not restful. So I did not sleep terribly well.

The wind also caused the temperature to drop a fair amount, from very pleasant days in the eighties. It barely reached the sixties, and felt colder whenever the wind blew. In the morning I took a mother and daughter – from a family who had initially cancelled their birthday celebration, but decided to come since they were liable to be evacuated from their home, having packed photo albums and passports – along the valley, to the wishing tree, the labyrnth and the wind chimes, which were making a rather spooky cacophony.

I was feeling rather uneasy all morning, and had serious thoughts about leaving. We were getting reports, initially second-hand, but then confirmed as a few of us gathered in the office, that highway 16 was closed, as was highway 80 in Vallejo. As Rebecca pointed out, with all the evacuations as well, it was not really a great day to be on the road, so I decided to stay put.

A part of the unease was discovering that my former rigged-up method for recording myself for the various apps no longer worked on my new laptop. Something I had planned to spend much of my free time on Sunday was now no longer possible, but instead would have to be added to the number of things to try and get done during the week. I could spend a little more time on the writing, but felt at a loose end, and noticed that I had absolutely no desire to go for a run to burn off the energy.

Having decided to stay though, the agitation disappeared, and the place quietened down as well, not just the wind, but most of the guests leaving after their weekend. I stayed out in the sun at the baths until it dipped behind the trees at four, and set up the yoga deck for an evening sitting. I think it was my first time sitting with the lights, and it also felt very powerful and grounding just to be sitting upright after all the movement. One person came, and she asked for the lights to be turned off, so we sat in the very last of the daylight; she did not have much experience sitting, but was raised as a sufi, and had many thoughts about meditation, trauma and healing, so we ended up talking far more than sitting, until I was ready to sleep.

Waking up terribly early on Monday, it soon occurred to me that I was unlikely to go back to sleep, as I would be turning over all the things I had to try to get done – not least of which was the fact that Zachary had said he wouldn’t be able to make the meditation on Monday, so I would have to collect the cushions, as well as dropping off my rental car by eleven, getting myself to and from the sitting, then back out to teach in the afternoon – with my student group in the evening. Rather than wait out the rush hour, or have to sit in it, I had the idea I could get ahead of it.

I had a bit of coffee and set off earlier than I have ever done before – though there was still a fair amount of traffic even for the ungodly hour. Indeed, at Vallejo, where the smoke was dense, the lines of traffic on the 80 at five in the morning stretched right through the city, as there was still a lane closed just by the bridge; and the half-hour it took to get through that meant that the Bay Bridge was starting to seriously back up as well. Nevertheless, I still got home before light.

Of course, once I had a signal, I discovered that Zachary would be able to make the sitting, and bring the cushions after all, so a large proportion of my fretting had, not unusually, been in vain. I thus had plenty of time to catch up on emails, news and football; I was just very tired during the various sittings, alleviated only by a sense of real meeting during my evening group, something that is always energising, and reminds me why I do all of this.

DSCF1268.jpgThe thinnest of new moons visible before sunrise on Saturday.

DSCF1270.jpgDawn colours at the bathhouse.

DSCF1276.jpgBright sun on the smelter trail on the way up to the medicine wheel.

DSCF1288.jpgA year’s worth of wishes on the tree – they will all be burned at the end of the year.

DSCF1296.jpgThe labyrinth oak.

DSCF1305.jpgAlthough some smoke was visible from higher up, the skies could not have been bluer.

A Long, Hot, Slow Weekend

This past weekend at Wilbur was going to be a long one, even by my standards; I was determined not to be in a rush to get there, but it is always good to get out of the city early on a Friday. As I drove out past Walnut Creek, looking at Mount Diablo, I realised that exactly a week before, I had been on its slopes on my bike – and that next Friday, I would be starting the sitting with the Dancing Mountains group in Newmarket.

It was just shy of a hundred degrees when I arrived, and just over a hundred on Saturday and Sunday. There were familiar faces there, apart from the friend I was expecting; it was nice to catch up with people, and I even treated myself to some bodywork with Shalamah, who gave me a serious going over as she has before. It is a time of transition in the staffing there, and I joined in a little celebration for Claudia and Chris, who keep things running very smoothly and will be heading to Europe very soon.

I only had one run planned, and I went out early on Sunday morning to do the ridge trail. I had trepidation – just for the climbs that come after you have already got up to the ridge, and they were as tough as I remembered, just touched by the first sunshine and already warming up. As I reached the top of the final short steep slope, I caught up with a guy walking along, sweating in camouflage, with a hunting rifle – always somewhat expected, though perhaps we were both surprised at each others’ presence. He said there were a couple of guys ahead of him, but I didn’t see them or hear them, and it was quiet and still enough at that time to hear the occasional cars passing down on highway 20, way down below.

The stillness added to the sense of heat, and I relished every minute of it, feeling, as Labor Day came around, that it really did mark a cusp in the seasons. I woke up early each day, mainly from being unused to the temperature shifts during the night, and earlier, even by my standards, on Monday morning. My first thought was that getting up would help me adjust to the time change (since it was already late morning in England), so I got up and lay in the outdoor pool, floating and looking up at the abundant stars.

The place was full all weekend – and they even managed to squeeze in a few people who had left Burning Man early; I saw the tell-tale dust-cover truck in the lot on Sunday morning, and there were a few people who stood out rather, drifting around somewhat less focused than most people at Wilbur. One made it to a couple of sittings, though I was not convinced he was totally present…

I had full houses for both the Sunday sessions and on Monday morning, even filling the cushions ten minutes before the Sunday evening session. I wondered if we had been trending on Instagram, but someone pointed out that it was a long weekend – I think people had run out of alternative things to do… I was motivated by the numbers to try to say something interesting, but by Monday, the fifth session of the weekend, I wasn’t sure I had anything new to say. I was just trying to enjoy the sitting and the heat, and not be in a rush to get back and do my laundry before heading to the airport on Tuesday afternoon.

DSCF9383.jpgPart of the light show on Friday evening.

DSCF9390.jpgFrank was unconcerned, even though the lighting flattered him.

DSCF9416.jpgNew moon following the sun down on Sunday.

DSCF9458.jpgFirst rays at the bathhouse on Monday morning.

DSCF9446.jpgThe path to the yoga deck, which was well trodden over the weekend, in the morning sun.

The Wind Blows Through The Empty Valley

Last week was by and large mercifully fog free in San Francisco, warm and with clear blue skies, reminding me of the best summer days in England – though England was then roasting in the kind of temperatures you expect to get in inland California. The fog came back in for Friday morning; this time I did have enough time to stretch my legs on my bike before going off to Wilbur. It was a round 100 when I arrived.

I was struck that afternoon by the stillness and quiet, and also my response to it, which was to feel very sleepy. Talking with Charlotte, one of the regular bodyworkers, she said it was the heat, but it was more, I think, that I find the heat so deeply relaxing.

Not so easy to sleep in the hot cabins though, even if the temperatures dropped overnight to allow a cool start to the day. Much as I don’t enjoy it, I ran first thing both mornings, as the colours on the golden hills started to reflect the orange skies to the east. On a flatter section heading up to the Medicine Wheel on Saturday morning, I had a sense of gliding, which was a nice delusion to have – it certainly didn’t feel that way the next morning as I lumbered from the cooler valley to the warmer hill tops crossing over to the Terraced Springs, my legs getting gently lacerated by star thistles which are running riot in the valleys.

On Saturday it topped out at 108; on Sunday it nudged a little closer to 110 – as someone observed, the only people to complain about the heat were those who had to work in it. I stuck to the shade, reading Shantideva and snoozing almost, despite good nights’ sleep. The guests were a very mellow bunch, and mostly quiet after the meditations. And when everyone left on Sunday, the wind picked up, as if signalling a change to come in the weather.

After the evening sits, with the sun down behind the hills, but still 90 degrees, I enjoyed lying on the stones of the pool deck which had absorbed all the heat of the day.

On Monday morning I got up early enough to sit in the tub under the stars, as the new moon rose over the hills, visible between the trunks of the pine, before I set off back to the city in the balmy early morning, meeting the fog as it rolled down from American Canyon.

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DSCF8877Late afternoon sun on Sunday in the blazing heat.

To the Top of the City

Coming into this weekend, I felt like I had a lot of time and space – there was very little on my schedule, though I knew I would have some writing and recording to do. Mostly, with the sun doing its best, I was looking forward to getting some exercise.

Between the summer weather and continuing tendon issues, I have barely been running for months; I don’t remember the last time I ran in the city, though I did make it out on my last two visits to Wilbur. So while my cycling legs are in reasonable shape – I got up to the top of Tam, well above the damp fog, a week ago, and have in mind to get up Diablo before I go to England (again!) – I realised I ought to at least try to get my running legs back so that I can enjoy the runs I typically get to do once I am over there.

It’s also a while since I felt the need to run around a roam route; mostly I am on familiar grounds now. McLaren Park was such an unknown quantity that walking round it with a phone map at hand seemed a better option. For the next roam, while I am well acquainted with the high points of San Francisco, either on foot or on a bike, the open-ended route I had planned took in a few places I wanted some refreshing to get back into my body. So on a sunny afternoon, I took the N-Judah outbound from Duboce Park to Cole Valley, and started trotting, quite slowly and self-consciously, at least until I got on the trails, where it became a matter of tackling what was at hand.

A lot of the climbing is fairly gentle – especially the trails on Mount Sutro, where I was least familiar with the North Ridge trail, which meanders about Medical Center Way to the summit; I also wanted to tackle the new Clarendon connector from the other end to the one I usually come into the mountain from.
I hadn’t planned my food intake very well prior to running, so while my legs were doing okay at the first peak, my blood sugar felt off; luckily I had a bar with me, and in time that took effect, as I sweated up both of the Twin Peaks. And then realised that I was also going to be approaching Mount Davidson from an unfamiliar angle. In the end, I was able to use visual cues – like the covered reservoir – to get me to the entrance on La Bica, and from there to the summit. On the way down, I tried a different trail to the usual one, and ended up at the top of Dalewood, a fearsome road I have not dared to climb on my bike for a few years, and only ever attempted when I was at my fittest. And then it was a short trot to West Portal station, where the T took me back home in a matter of minutes, a little stiff after the exertions.

I only hope that there isn’t a repeat of the McLaren Park roam, which was scouted on a gorgeous day, and then largely fogged in on the day itself.

Mt Sutro woods statue.jpgLooking back at my photos of the woods on Mount Sutro from a few years ago, I noticed how much more overgrown things seemed on my last visit. This water-guardian is much less visible now.