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Epic. I had all day to do just one thing but it took a while to get my shit together and still be able to hit the trail while it was still morning. Enough shit done, I packed a cooler with a water bottle of ice, a couple of cans of ginger ale and a quart of tea I made the night previous because after I did my long run in the Marin Headlands Wednesday morning I was going to have a picnic at Black Sands Beach.

Had to get gas down the street and it was $3.21 a gallon. Drove to the Marina Safeway and got a bento of California Roll sushi and three fried chicken wings. The deli couldn’t scan the code for the chicken so I got them for free and ate two of the hot wings right out of the bag before I got into the Contour.

The fog had me going, I couldn’t figure out what the weather would be like and pessimistically, I thought it would be worse. It was still and muggy in the Marina, a hot mist. Driving over the bridge the fog looked like it was going to fuck my beach day. Driving up Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands was like driving through a cloud. I couldn’t even see the water down below the bluffs. A black vulture emerged then disappeared back into the mist as I drove down McCullough to park in front of the warehouses across the road from Rodeo Lagoon.

Because the lagoon is open to the sea, the ocean wind flows straight to the trail head. It was quite cool when I went to go check the maps to confirm and lock in my route. I was planning on taking Miwok then cutting west down Old Springs which at the Miwok Stables ascends as Marincello connecting to the ridge at Bobcat to Alta and finally descending down Rodeo Valley to finish the loop. Using my fingers as calipers I estimated that this would be a 10 mile loop. As it turned out it was only 8.82 miles which I completed in 1:41:27, not counting the time that I stopped to take pictures on the ridge.

I suited up in my second oldest pair of Kanadia Trails, my old Adidas baggy running shorts and visor plus the North Face t. I kept my Nike Vapors in my CamelBak because it was so misty in the valley I couldn’t see the summits above. The Adidas shorts were a nice change, lots of room to flop comfortably, unlike the tights or the Nikes, but its probably only safe to wear those on a less traveled trail. Once I got into the protected valley, I realized that a shirt was unnecessary and irksome so I stopped to strip it off and stowed it in the compartment with my hard shades case. 10 minutes into the trail, I spot a coyote foraging in the field. I stopped the GPS on my phone so I could take a picture of him and at first he ignored me but became so annoyed he trotted off. I thought to myself how the coyote’s coat resembles all of the fur, scales and feathers of all the little animals they eat and the larger kills they scavenge: greys from mouses, beiges and whites from bunnies, silver from lizards, red from deer and blacks from the headdresses of quail. That communion over, I continued up Miwok, running as naked as I was legally comfortable doing.

I hit Old Springs pretty quickly and was relieved to know that I would avoid the steepest portion of Miwok. The Old Spring is exactly at mile 2 from the Miwok trail head and it is represented as an old, white, PVC pipe that goosenecks out of the ground and trickles down a gulley. I had to stop and taste, cautiously, for I don’t know the source or quality, but the water was fresh, cool. Old Spring’s trail is single track with beautifully decomposing wooden bridges built to cross over where the spring’s waters flow. Park Service had installed wooden beams in the trail to prevent erosion and they were spaced just widely enough that I could glide and propel quickly down the trail at full throttle. I ripped it, yelling to keep my balance and startled two lady hikers. The Miwok Stables were before me and I was loving how rustic it was looking and enjoying the horsey smell and thought that right here would be a good staging area for exploring new trails in the Tennessee Valley.

Old Springs does not loop. The trail that takes one back up to Bobcat and the ridge overlooking Gerbode Valley is named Marincello. This is a trail that takes one up a southern ridge so that at the summit, which connects to Bobcat to the southwest is Mount Tamalpais and below, Tennessee Valley. Richardson Bay is in view with boats in harbor. This looks like an old well traveled trail with old oak trees and pine. A lush habitat as it is protected from ocean wind and gets Marin County heat. The downhill at Old Springs allowed me to recover and I was out of the mist and into open sun my mood was lifting as I powered up the hill, then my power song, Ain Elhoim by CELTIC FROST played on my shuffle:

Lay thy hand on the neck of thine enemies.
Devour their flesh with thy sword.
Bring down the slain from among thine adversaries.
They shall fall to rise no more.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Against all sinful flesh.
Let thy wrath consume all of thine enemies.
Scourge them with flames of fire.
Lay thy feet on the pile of those slain by thy mysteries.
We shall be cleansed by their blood.
Thus said the Lord: I am Sabaoth.
Feel my holy wrath.
I am glorified.
I cannot be denied.
I am he who is.
Punishment for wickedness.
I am the one you dread.
You are as good as dead.
There is no God but the one that dies with me.
I have no life but the one I take with me to the grave.
We come into this world alone.
And we will die on our own.
I live.
I die.
Ain Elohim.

CELTIC FROST: “Ain Elhoim” from MONOTHEIST (2006 Century Media Records).

…to which, reaching the summit I responded in prose:

Humankind, as we now know it, was created from dust and grease. The dust from the bombardment of angels falling from heaven and the grease from all of the wildlife which burned to extinction in the oily fires of the last apocalypse.

…well, what else would I be thinking of listening to Black Metal and running through an imagined wilderness alongside raptors and carnivores?

I wrote that passage in my phone to remember it, and because I liked it I published it, then shot some pictures of the trail and markers before resuming my GPS and starting down Bobcat to Alta. It was bright on the ridge, so I used the break to put back on my Vapors. At the connection to Alta ran into a guy and his dog and on Alta, an old man hiking with two poles. Out to Morning Sun to catch the view, and in passing thought of carving my user id into the bench there. Then its down Rodeo Valley where I finally realized how much my new shoes sucked compared to these old ones and took the descent down the trail technically and powerfully. Back at the trail head with a really good work out.

Pumped, I said hi to another runner who was watering her dog and asked her where she was going to run. She responded that she had just run up Miwok and back down Wolf Ridge. I told her the course that I just ran, realizing how smug and conceited I must appear to her, especially because when she rolled out in her Mercedes SUV, her license plate read, “DPSEQUN.”

Done, now just cruise to the beach. Driving back up McCullough I was all, “umm, uh oh!” about the fog because it was still high on the strait facing hills, but as I began to descend I got under the marine layer. Parked and looked at the beach and it was brilliantly clear. A buff thug daddy in baggy jeans with his boxers showing and not wearing a shirt came puffing up the trail and went to his old beige and white camper van, opened the back door and pulled out a bag. I got my cooler and backpack out of the Contour, said hi to thug daddy and continued down the trail. Got a short way down and realized that I forgot my sunscreens back up in the parking lot. I retrieved my sunscreens and thought to stuff a throw pillow in my pack so I could really chill down on the beach. When I got to the end of the stairs down to the beach I could see thug daddy walking down to the west end where I was headed, and I was hoping he was gay and was gonna cruise because he was so hot, but it turned out he was a fisherman and was out for a day of sport with 2 or 3 of his friends and family.

So I go to my favorite spot down at the west end, thats where thug daddy and company were fishing off the promontory. I found a nice spot by a set of low rocks, where if I lay down would give me some privacy while sunbathing. I laid out my lava-lava, stripped and got out my bento and bottle of iced tea. There were a dozen pieces of tuna and avocado sushi and by the 7th piece I was feeling full, but wanted to eat the whole tray before it spoiled. Then it was time for a stroll down the beach. I took my phone with me and shot the scenery on the way down to the eastern end. At the stair, I passed a group of hipsters picnicking and they giggled as I was passing by. I was just self conscious enought to think that they were snickering at me. For a moment I thought to myself, “I’ve become that naked old guy walking down the beach,” but really, I think its more important to be a proponent of naturism in appropriate places. Black Sands is a traditional nude beach and needs to remain so for all to enjoy. I passed a gay couple that looked a little tweaked and were setting up a badminton net. I got to the waterfall and shot the water trickling down, thought for a second that it might be better to camp out at this end near the gays, but thought better of it and walked back to my favorite spot.

What a great day for the beach!

  • 8.82 miles
  • 1:41:27
  • 11:30 avg.pace
  • 1,655 feet climbed
  • 1,184 calories burned
  • 144/166 avg./max bpm


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