Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

A hike on a mid-summer day

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A leaf on the trail

A leaf on the trail

Purisima Creek trail, a trail through a cool moist canyon is especially delicious on a summer afternoon. I love the towering redwoods, the sound of the creek, the ferns growing along the trail and the wild flowers. I like the challenge of the 1000 feet elevation change and the relative isolation of its 8 miles. I even like the 5 miles of winding Black Mountain Road that connects Woodside to Skyline Blvd.

Last weekend, I wanted to walk this trail again. I have hiked longer trails and climbed steeper ones. I have walked this very same trail half a dozen times but it had been a while since the last one. On the positive side, I have been pretty good about my yoga classes and run a few miles every week. So, without any further concern (and that would result in significant pain later), I packed a sandwich. Sturdy hiking boots and a bottle of water and I was on my way to Woodside by mid-morning.

Woodside is a CEO infested town. There’s rich, there’s filthy rich — and then there’s Woodside.Those are the first words of “The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams. If you didn’t know that a square inch of land in this town costs an average man’s weekly salary (or is it monthly), it would just appear to be a cute little boring town. People I see shopping here look like you and me (probably all tourists).

Driving up the winding Black Mountain Road, there is not a single facade announcing one of these multi-million dollar estates. No Rolls-Royces and Ferraris have ever zipped me by. All I see is a steep forested hilly road made dangerous by cyclists, huffing and puffing away at this gruesome climb in their Tour de France outfits.

Normally, Purisima creek trail is a crowded hike. At least 20 or more cars are parked at the main entrance. This time, I found only a few. I have always found the beginning of a hike exhilarating – the moist cool air goes in rejuvenating your lungs. I love looking at the vegetation not commonly found in exurbia. A mile into the hike you can hear the cars no more. Away from the background noises created by computers, refrigerators, and air conditioners, your ears start to enjoy the quietness again. It feels like a complete revival of senses.

Then as you go on, it gets vigorous. This day was no different. Every now and then, a biker would go downhill raising a whole lot of dust which would take a few minutes to settle. I don’t like the bikes much but I like the equestrians even less. Horses are gorgeous creatures but on a race track and probably with some champagne and caviar on the side. I am sure I would like them even better if I won a bet. From close quarters, they smell. On a trail they leave shit behind which attracts flies. Thankfully there was only two horses that day. And judging by the lack of flies on the trail, not too many had been on the trail lately. I thanked the Forest God for small mercies.

Curious formation on a stone

Curious formation on a stone

My toes have always hurt after couple of miles of continuous downhill. But this time my foot hurt in many places. I hadn’t worn my hiking boots in a while and they had started to pinch again. I had also forgotten about the bunion that had developed in the meantime. I didn’t have anything to protect my feet against blisters either. But, no way I was going to let a blister or two get in the way – you wouldn’t either if this was one of your rare escape moments.

By the time I had reached the bottom of the trail, I had been walking for an hour and a half. I was tired. Purisima creek runs throughout the year. But in mid-summer, it is only a gurgling creek. The park authorities could have created some picnic spots along the creek. But there aren’t any. A couple of benches or even tree stumps would have helped to relax. But the way things were, I ate my sandwich perched on a wooden rail. I took off my socks and realized that I had blisters on my right foot. After readjusting my socks to best help my blisters, I started my walk back up.

As I walked uphill, the pressure points shifted and the blisters became more bearable. Couple of miles of uphill later, the trail starts to feel steeper. Also, there is no intersection with any other trail or anything else to mark distance from the trail head. Each bend looks like the one before. Every time the trail bends, you can see a hundred yards ahead – all uphill. Typically by this time I stop noticing the redwoods and the wild flowers. Instead, it becomes a moving meditation – my pounding heart, my stiff legs, uphill to the next bend and no other thoughts. Again, this time was no different.

I was happy when I got back to the trailhead. Happier still when I got back home. A strong cup of chai, two chocolate cookies, three blister patches, and a soak in the tub later I felt somewhat normal again. Full recovery would take a day or two more.

Travel note: Hiking is one of the more popular of outdoor activities for Bay Area residents. If you are visiting the area, and want to do what the natives do, go for a hike, even if it only an hour or so. There are several hikes in Muir Woods, where you can see some beautiful redwoods, if you are visiting San Francisco. For this specific trail and others visit bahiker.

Written by Som

July 21, 2008 at 9:35 pm

One Response

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  1. […] to get out of exurbia again. And I really needed to do something different, something other than hiking or shopping. After searching high and low for some days, I found a tour of Mission Dolores, […]

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