Sometimes you’ll find adventure in the places you go, but sometimes you’ll find it in the people who join you. Sometimes you’ll find peace in the solitude of a lone peak, but sometimes you’ll find it in a few select friends camped with you by a lake. The High Sierra is the place to go to meet that aspect of yourself that hangs off the edges of cliffs and climbs up the face of a glacier. The Emigrant Wilderness is the place to go to meet that other primal self, that person who walks quietly through the woods, over ridges, and past still lakes, who tends a campfire by night and bathes in the sun by day. It was this bit of our humanity that we sought.
Most of the surfers were headed back to shore, and it was still early yet for tourists. Rodeo Beach at the Marin Headlands was quiet, especially for a Saturday. I set out back along the road, somewhat unsure of my route. I had in mind for the day a sixteen-mile run around the Headlands, a run much longer than any I’d ever done before. I had all day, though, and a cup of coffee to boot.
Montara Mountain makes a great training hill for vertically-minded Sierra hikers. It looms 1,898 feet above Pacifica, California, a mile south of Devils Slide. Trails to the top converge from three different directions, one of which is currently closed to the public. The other two trailheads, San Pedro Valley County Park and McNee Ranch State Park, climb from near sea level to the summit in about four miles, and so provide some of the steepest continuous trail in the bay area.