Jutting out into the wild Pacific Ocean just north of San Francisco, the Point Reyes peninsula is quite a special part of Northern California.
It is indeed one of my favorite places on earth.
I’ve been a lot of places, but I keep coming back to this one.
This is the third summer in a row that I’ve started off my backpacking season there, hiking in 6 miles to the backcountry camp of Wildcat for a night, trekking into the wilds of this well-preserved National Seashore via the Palomarin trail. This trail hugs the coastline, then dips into the woods passing by several picturesque lakes before meeting the sea again in dramatic fashion with a stunning cliff-side view.
Stunning views aside, I love Point Reyes because it’s a world away from San Francisco, where I live, but I don’t have to travel far and wide to get there. It’s a mere hour and a half drive. Truly a slice of backyard heaven.
It’s quiet but alive with birdsong. Cozy yet wild. Familiar and dynamic, ever changing in tune with the natural cycles of life and evolving with the force of the elements.
For me, it’s the perfect place for a solo backpacking trip. No bears to worry about, and this backcountry campground comes with such luxuries as water spigots, trash and recycle cans, and pit toilets (yay, no poop trowel required!). Plus, I’m likely to see other hikers on the trail or in the campground, so I’m not completely alone in the wild.
Ya see, I do love my solitude, but I also want to be safe. This is mountain lion country and snakes freak me out. I could trip and sprain my ankle. Or fall and hit my head. The list of fears and potential dangers goes on, I won’t let that stop me from exploring on my own, but I also don’t want to be out of range of anyone hearing my emergency whistle that I carry with me.
Ah, the solitude, I had long stretches of trail to myself on this weekday trip in late May. It was simply idyllic and I did a pretty good job of leaving my everyday worries back at the trailhead, along with my slight addiction to an Internet connection.
In this day and age of smartphones and Facebook, I’ll admit that I feel an ever so slight sense of loss in those first moments after my phone loses its signal as I head into the backcountry. I suddenly feel no longer “connected” and I feel out of the loop (ha! story of my life!). But it’s only for the shortest of moments, for then I realize how grateful I am for this opportunity that I’ve given myself to make the most important connection of all: the one with myself.
Surrounded by the trees and the birds and the bees, I am simply in awe of this life. This beautiful, complex, intense, and blessed life.
My new yet un-named pack ready for her maiden voyage!