Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Hippies on Mount Tam 2: The Hike
If for no other reason, the Mountain Play organization should be applauded for figuring out how to get people out of their cars.
There's very little parking at the top of Mount Tamalpais, so they have created a huge, well-run transportation system involving various empty parking lots in the Mill Valley area which are serviced by a small army of yellow Laidlaw school buses and what look to be school bus drivers who know the treacherous mountain roads intimately.
Best of all, the buses are free and help foster a communal feeling of adventure in both directions.
The organization also encourages people to hike down the side of Mount Tamalpais after the show to downtown Mill Valley below.
We decided to try the breathtakingly beautiful three-hour, seven-mile walk.
Since I tend to be a sissy about mountain lions and rattlesnakes, it was also a pleasure to walk with young people who would look more like prey than myself.
The trail is actually a series of trails, and at certain confusing junctions there were jolly direction-givers pointing us in the right direction.
Every half hour you walk into a new microclimate...
...and about halfway down the mountain the trail starts passing through steep redwood canyons...
...with impossibly vertiginous homes perched on stilts and stairways.
The Mountain Play people will also drive down your coolers and supplies to a parking lot in downtown Mill Valley for free so you don't have to haul them down the mountain.
This is a good thing, because just when you're ready for the hike to be over, you encounter the Dipsea Stairs, a series of vertical staircases that will test every joint in your hips and knees. Plus, it doesn't help that fitness fascists are impatiently passing by as they run up and down the stairs.
At the bottom, there was a shuttle bus waiting that quickly took us to our car, which we entered while moaning, "Oh god, I'm in pain." I can't recommend both the musical and the hike enough. Check it out.