We’ve made it into our fifth county along the California Coastal Trail! Marin County encompasses the spectacular Tomales Bay, famous for its oysters and gorgeous panoramas. We canoed across Tomales Bay over the San Andreas Fault to our boat-in campsite at Marshall Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore. The canoe ride was a windy journey paddling up the bay, and we saw seals floating lazily together in the shallows. Pure white egrets stalked their mudflat prey on tall, stilt-like legs. After standing so still, one would dart its beak into the water and pull out a shiny, flashing fish treat.
From the south side of Tomales Bay, we looked up the coast from where we had come. Now on the Point Reyes Peninsula, we were standing on “an island in time.” This peninsula is geologically separate from the mainland. Its granite core was once part of the Tehachapi Mountain Range 350 miles to the south, and the peninsula has been moving northward along the San Andreas fault over many millennia! In 1906, a massive earthquake moved Point Reyes 21 feet north—wowzers!
Thank goodness this coastal gem was protected from development in 1962, when Congress authorized the Point Reyes National Seashore. The peninsula is part wilderness, part classic California ranch and pastoral land. We met with John Dell’Oso from National Parks who shared some stats about Point Reyes with us: 80 species of mammals, 490 species of birds, 900 flowering plants, and 28 endangered plants and animals are found here! Whewww, this is a hotspot for nature and nature lovers!
John gave us THE coolest temporary tattoos, which celebrate the National Parks Service’s centennial anniversary this year! 100 years of preserving America’s precious wilderness and making natural places open to all of us–THANK YOU NATIONAL PARKS!! Point Reyes National Seashore is an especially amazing place because it includes over 75,000 acres of open space and is just a short way from 8.6 million people in the Bay Area. Wilderness is important for our health, and connecting with nature is a critical part of the human experience—and trails connect people to nature! We are so thankful for the 150 miles of trails in Point Reyes.
We spent a couple lovely days backpacking in Point Reyes, and brought a crew out to enjoy it with us. We had a first time backpacker, Mo’s little sis Sarah, and our friend Igor from Moldova, who had never seen the Pacific Ocean before! Together, we soaked in the scenery—expansive Pacific Ocean vistas, bright wildflower meadows, and rolling coastal fog collecting on trees and dropping to the forest floor. We even saw a humpback whale tail from the bluffs at Alamere Falls; it was the quintessential California Coastal Trail sighting!
By World’s Ocean Day on June 8th, we had made it to Stinson Beach, and decided we needed to brave the cold north coast waters to celebrate and honor our Ocean. Brrrrrr!!!! It was chilly but so refreshing, a great way to begin our morning on the CCT—ocean dunk at 8am on June 8, oh yeah!
We continued down the California Coastal Trail into the Marin Headlands—2,100 windswept acres of rocky headlands, rolling hills, coves and beaches that are protected as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. When perched in the majestic Marin Headlands, overlooking the San Francisco metropolis and the Golden Gate Bridge, it is surprising that such a vast wilderness exists adjacent to a major city. As early as 1890, the Marin Headlands were primarily used by the U.S. military as a key location to protect San Francisco bay from hostile ships and surprise attacks. When the military moved out, cities inevitably tried to move in, with many development proposals for the Marin Headlands coming about in the 1950s-60s. Local movements to stop development prevailed, and today, more than 80 percent of Marin County’s 300,000 acres are preserved as permanent open space!
Hiking through the headlands, eventually we rounded a turn where we caught our first glimpse of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. With our eyes on the red towers, it really started to sink in that we had human-powered ourselves all the way to the San Francisco Bay from the California-Oregon border. We joined the throng of tourists taking photos in front of the Golden Gate and celebrated our MoJo milestone with a little victory dance.
The next morning, we met a crew of CCT fans at the north side of the Golden Gate and got revved up for the big crossing. The Golden Gate Bridge is 4,200 feet long, and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. People from around the world recognize the Golden Gate as a symbol of California and San Francisco—so cool that it is part of the CCT!
We had some seriously special guests join our walk-along across the Golden Gate Bridge. Mo’s family and friends were reppin’ MoJo Coastwalk big time and wrapped us up in so much love! Jo’s Granddad and Susana were there waiting with hugs and kisses for the sweet reunion! Some wonderful ladies from the Coastal Commission joined us and we got grooving with our marine lady vibes. Bob Siegel from the Bay Area Ridge Trail brought his pup and we got to pick his brain about all things trails!
When we made it across the bridge, we were greeted by a celebration with folks from the National Parks Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, the Coastal Conservancy, and the California Coastal Trail Association. We listened to some very kind and touching words from Kate Bickert of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and we were so excited to take place in the celebration of five major trails that all converge at the Golden Gate Bridge: California Coastal Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail, San Francisco Bay Trail, American Discovery Trail, and the De Anza Trail all meet here! Hooray for this Trail Mix!
The trails headed south toward Land’s End, where we found the Hidden Labyrinth. The Labyrinth at Land’s End is a meditative monument for peace and serenity. Rocks carefully arranged into 11 concentric circles sit on a windswept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the West, the Marin Headlands to the North, and the Golden Gate Bridge to the East. The Labyrinth was first created as a stealth public art project, and was carefully arranged at twilight or dawn so the anonymous artist could avoid detection by National Parks Service Rangers. Thanks to volunteers and local caretakers, the Labyrinth lives on. We walked through the meditative maze and sent Peace into the world from the Labyrinth, willing it to wormhole its way into this world out of whack.
The rest of San Francisco zoomed by in a 2 mph blur of sandy beaches, crazy characters, and perfect California weather. We walked along Ocean Beach, and by a wonderful coincidence, we were there for Sunday Streets, a party where city streets are closed to automobile traffic and open to people to “walk, run, bike, dance, explore!” Sunday Streets is a concept that originated in Bogota, Colombia over thirty years ago as a day of free healthy activities to promote community in public streets. We cruised down the “Great Highway” and saw many smiling pedestrians, bikers, musicians, kids in wagons, rollerskaters, and dogs out enjoying the car-free pathway.
We want to give a big shout out to the Visallis for spoiling us fantastically during their stay in the Bay. Thank you so much! And another shout out to our friends at Birdbath for hosting Team MoJo in San Francisco! Kacawwww kacawww! Bay Area Brennies also seriously showed up to energize us! The generous spirits who have helped us along the way have made our journey so special. Sending out so much love to all the Trail Angels who have supported us! THANK YOU!