Winter brings a sense of peace and solitude to Yosemite Valley. This is my favorite time of year to visit. The throngs of tourists are gone. I spent part of the afternoon traipsing across El Capitan Meadow on snow shoes, with the entire meadow to myself, a welcome retreat from the events of the past few days. We arrived in the Valley yesterday afternoon in rain and ovenight the rain turned to snow. Not that the valley is empty; there are plenty of people with cameras and tripods at strategic vantage points, but also plenty of opportunity to find vantage points and subject matter. With such beauty all around one can almost point your camera anywhere and find interesting compositions.
On Thursday, January 5, I managed to join my BASK friends for another Thursday BASK Lunch Paddle. We were a group of eight, launching from China Camp and paddling across the bay on calm water. Our route took us out to two rocks called The Sisters, where we found a strong ebb current that helped carry us towards Richmond. We landed at a beach just south of Point San Pablo where we had lunch. The paddle back was a bit more work since we were paddling against the current. As we approached The Sisters on the return route, one of the gang suggested we “thread Grendel’s Needle,” which turns out to be a slot in the rock. Not something I would want to attempt on a windy, choppy day, but fun with the calm water. Our paddle covered 7.3 miles. You can view the track of our route here, and see additional pictures here.
Walking, paddling, meditating. What is it you do to maintain a sense of grace and compassion? In the midst of a chaotic world that would have us succumb to fear and anger what do you do to maintain sanity? Nothing seems to renew my sense of grace more than walking. I’m not sure that it’s simply the fact that I’m moving forward, one foot after the other, or that while walking, the problems of the world seem more distant.
I was out walking the dog this morning when I stopped to talk to a neighbor. She expressed concerns about where 2017 might lead us, and I was reminded of a piece I wrote in September “Keep on Walking.”
As part of my “walk” through 2017, I’m going to offer my services one day a month, pro-bono to help support social or environmental causes. With the changes we face in Washington, it’s going to be up to use as individuals to make a difference in how we act as stewards of God’s creation. I’m looking forward to the new year, to the new people I’ll meet on the journey ahead, to new connections I’ll make in the global community and to new opportunities that will arise.
Blessings to all for 2017
We found another dog friendly walk today; Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve in Marin. Our hike took us over grassy meadows, through groves of oaks and bay trees, and up to the peak at 1558 feet, where we stopped for lunch. There is also a communications tower near the peak. We avoided the tower which seemed to be the popular destination. We found a rock at the top which make a convenient place for our lunch. The rock also had a benchmark marking the top of the peak. A rock wall runs along the ridge at the peak and on the other side of the wall is Olompali State Park, with a trail that goes down to the visitor center. I suppose with some planning you could hike up the route we took and down through Olompali, although being a state park, dogs are not permitted, and our point was to find a dog friendly walk. We covered five miles with a 1300 foot elevation gain. There is quite a panoramic view from the top, although a bit hazy today, despite the clear skies. You can our track log here.
Kehoe Beach. Point Reyes National Seashore.
“Our greatest power as nations and individuals is not the ability to employ assault weapons, suicide bombers, and drones to destroy each other. The greater more creative powers with which we may arm ourselves are grace and compassion sufficient enough to love and save each other.” —Aberjhani
I found this quote wile reading the November-December issue of Orion Magazine. I thought this quote seemed appropriate given the season and the challenges we face.
On Friday, December 9, four of us, Brett, Mark, Nick and I, launched our kayaks from Nick’s Cove and paddled to Avila beach near the entrance to Tomales Bay where we set up camp for the night. Calm water and occasional rain prevailed over the course of the trip. We were careful to set up camp high on the beach with a high tide of 6 ft predicted for 7:40 in the morning. After setting up camp we explored the beach and tide pools. A hearty pot of soup was a welcome dinner in the cool damp environment of the Point Reyes peninsula. Over the night the rain came in and dumped on us, letting up in the morning. The biggest challenge of the morning was getting started without a pot of hot coffee. Seems somebody left the coffee in the car; which was motivation to break camp and head for the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station.
Back on the water we found ourselves working hard to paddle up the bay against the ebbing current and with the fog down on the deck our visibility was about a half-mile. We paddled close to shore for the sake of visibility, and once we were within sight of Hog Island we make our break to cross the Bay and head back to our launch point. Not quite lost in the fog, but cautious about our navigation. We did prove that with the right equipment to stay warm and dry you can even have fun kayak camping in the fog and rain in the middle of December on Tomales Bay. Next time it’s every man for himself when it comes to the coffee. You can see additional photos from the trip here and an approximation of our route here.
“There is nothing–absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
So two dozen of us or so found ourselves in the South Sailing Basin at the Berkeley Marina practicing rescue techniques. Calm day, and the water was a bit chilly, but with dry suits and the proper layers underneath, we had a fun day. Some of the techniques we practiced include the cowboy scramble, T-rescues, paddle floats and a variety of others. Put on by BASK, the Bay Area Sea Kayakers, we had plenty of volunteer instructors and those eager to learn.
Thursday, December 1 turned out to be a perfect day for paddling. There were two of us on the BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle, Danny and myself. Seemed like we had the entire bay to ourselves with nary another boat in site. We launched from Loch Lomond Yacht Harbor, paddled out around the Marin Islands in perfect paddling conditions, nearly flat calm, and then headed to China Camp where we stopped for lunch. Our paddle covered 8.5 miles. You can view more photos here. And view the track log here.
Amidst a very busy month I managed to join my BASK friends for another Thursday Lunch Paddle. We launched from Gas House Cove near Fort Mason and paddled to Yerba Buena Island where we landed on a little beach for lunch. A perfect day, calm weather, clear skies, and the only waves we had were from the wakes of ferry boats passing by. On our return trip we paddled along the San Francisco waterfront, ducking into Pier 39 to gawk and Forbes Island, and then into the Aquatic Park to look at the Balacutha and the San Francisco Maritime Historic Park. A total of 8.3 miles. Here’s a link to some additional photos and a link to the track of our paddle.
Thursday, November 11 found me back on the water with a group of fellow BASK members. For me, amidst a variety of stressful events and a monumental backlog of client work, getting on the water is like pressing the “Reset” button. Once I’ve returned from a day’s paddling, the work load doesn’t seem so daunting, and the fears and anxieties that stress me out seem distant. The wind blows, the tide goes in and out, the sun shines. This has gone on for millions of years, and it will continue.
Thee were nine of us in eight boats, launching from the Emeryville Marina, paddling out towards Clipper Cove on the East side of Yerba Buana and Treasure Island, then around the south side of Yerba Buena to a little beach on the southwest side. Flat calm on the way out, with glassy water, and a light breeze on the way back. I managed to capture a few images with my iPhone, which along with the Lifeproof case seems to be a good option for capturing photos on the water. You can find more photos from the trip here, and a GPS tracklog of the trip here.