It’s July now, which in San Francisco means two things: hoards of tourists and rolling banks of fog. That is, shivering tourists spilling over from Fisherman’s Wharf across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin to visit the quaint town of Sausalito, the tall trees of Muir Woods and mighty Pacific Coast at Stinson Beach.
If we had thought harder about it, we might have chosen another month to tackle Mt Tamalpais, but we were already behind in our Peak of the Month Challenge and Mt Tam is a popular destination climb. And as Bay Area suburbanites we are tourists too, albeit better prepared for the fog than visitors from back East or overseas.
In an attempt to get out ahead of said tourists, who have the natural advantage of jet lag, we drove up to the city and rolled out before 9am, the time that weather report said the fog would lift. It didn’t. The fog didn’t clear until as we dropped down into the town of Sausalito, but it stayed clear for our 10 mile climb up Mt Tam.
In contrast, the tourist traffic didn’t clear until we were near the top, making the ride more hectic than usual. Cars and shuttle buses filled with tourists bound for Muir Woods and Stinson Beach roared past, leaving scant space on the edge of the road for us. I worried that my friends doubted my route choice.
But we did meet a tourist that wasn’t whizzing by in a vehicle, a man from Copenhagen riding up the mountain on a time trial bike. He stopped to chat us up and expressed his appreciation for American women riding the backroads. “Not so many women on the road in Denmark,” he said. “It’s great!”
As the traffic petered out and our legs tired, the road kicked up for the final steep assault between the twin peaks of Mt Tamalpais. From the top, the view of San Francisco Bay below was much appreciated, even if it was obscured by a marshmallow blanket of fog. We had conquered our second peak, we were sitting in the warm sun, and we had cold drinks and junk food from the snack bar. A heavenly reward.
After that it was (almost) all downhill, which means some sweet twisty descending and less concern about car traffic since we were moving at their speed. Strong and buffeting winds on the Golden Gate Bridge made the final few miles back more intense than expected, but it didn’t spoil our excitement. We celebrated in the parking lot with the most important question: “Mission accomplished on Mt Tam. What’s next?”
What’s next on your challenge list for the summer? Are you on target or are vacations getting in the way?