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Friday, August 30, 2013

Mount Tamalpais' Steep Ravine

Foggy San Francisco viewed from Mount Tamalpais
Hiking the trails of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California is a rewarding exploration. The slopes are mostly steep and challenging, the views often vast and revealing; at times paths may be gentle and relaxing, yielding intimate sights. The experience hints of living a primordial existence, resetting the self in relation to nature: mind and body synchronizing with flora and fauna in awe.

Of the many trails, Steep Ravine is one of the most sheltered.  It may be approached from near the beach or close to the mountain top. Driving up to the trail head at the Rangers Station parking lot above the redwoods opens up vistas to the Pacific Ocean on the West and San Francisco on the South.  


San Francisco and Bay Bridge emerge from the fog

From these heights the City often looks like a ghostly apparition emerging from a foggy bed. As low clouds dissipate with the morning sun, the city wakes from white-lace dreams questioning permanence and reality and "all that is solid, melts into air". To the East, Mount Diablo looms like a long lost brother waving proudly from afar.


Mount Diablo viewed from Mt. Tam

Spiritually inspired, hiking down the mountain into Steep Ravine becomes a journey of discovery. Leafy canopies and tall redwoods envelop the descent in a green and red cocoon. 


Redwood tree overhead

A small creek makes its way down alongside the trail splashing and tumbling on its trip to the Pacific not far from Stinson Beach; cascading into sheltered waterfalls.  Trail and creek crisscross dancing to the tune of rustling leaves, tinkling water, and rhythmic strides.  


Sheltered Waterfall

Small wooden bridges span shaded banks while thundering footsteps pound the beat on ancient boards suddenly thudding, muffled on loose dirt; birds chirping highlight the score.


Redwood Forest Bridge

Of the many vignettes coming to life on this nature walk, the most pleasing are probably the cool mossy green waterfalls.  While not spectacular in a roaring way their charm lies in their non-threatening poise; some carving channels out of solid rock, while others, cascading over a multitude of boulders and hydrating the vegetation into fertile growth.


Mossy Rock Watefall

Redwoods variously arranged, standing, or fallen together with rich foliage create a cozy homelike feeling.Throughout, there's a sense of balance, of harmony barely disturbed by man and wildflowers rejoice in verdant freedom.




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