April 3, 2008

Geoff's take on SPT

So while I know we're still trying to find our voice with this blog. And Erica and I might have somewhat differing opinions on the style to write it in, I think we both really agree that chronicling the world as we know it is a worthwhile endeavor. So to that end I thought I'd give you my impressions on Samuel P Taylor SP. ;)

Erica's absolutely right in that Sam Taylor is a great place because its really close to the city, even with Friday traffic, we still managed to get out there in an hour. It's basically 15 miles west of San Rafael, and until the last of it the road is very straight. That last bit is worth mentioning though. Sir Francis Drake Road, which is the road you take to get to the park, seems to be a major back country thouroughfare. If you were trying to get from anywhere in north San Rafael to Hwy 1, you very well might take Frances Drake right past the Samuel Taylor Park over through Olema and onto the highway. Just check out this map. And since the park really isn't all that big the campground is literally speaking right by the road. I'd say over the weekend that we were there we heard probably, oh say a car every 2 minutes passing by us, and thats why I would definitely recommend as a tip that when you go to Samuel Taylor park, don't stay in the Creek Loop of the campground. I would say, stay on the Orchard Hill loop, probably sites 36 or 38 are best, although they are right beside the campground host.

It is a really nice litle park though. The noise of the road was a small distraction, and we got over it and enjoyed our stay very much. Like I said: not a massive park, but we really had a good hike. You can check out and download the park brochure (with map) online here, or just have a glance at this pic of it. Click to enlarge.



Our hike, which was nice if short took us west from the campground up the Devils Gulch trail, through to Bill's Trail, past Barnabe Peak and east along the Barnabe Fire road, finally we returned to the campground along the Cross Marin trail. The entire trip took us about 4 hours, and I think would be classified as a solid moderate hike. There were a few hills and switchbacks as we ascended to the ridgeline, but nothing terribly difficult. Since Erica and I are pretty into hiking we went at a good pace, but I don't think anyone should have a problem with this one. What I would say though is that I don't think the hike would be as pleasant going the other direction. Stick to the clockwise loop, or you'll be stuck going slow uphill for a long time on the Fire road.

One of the coolest things on the hike was seeing the bobcat. I've only ever seen one before in the wild, out at Yosemite a few years ago, but this one was great. He literally bounded away when he saw us. Almost like he was hopping, or bouncing like tigger. Very cool.

I think the only not so good thing about the trip really had to be the cold. Cause it was REALLY cold. But I suppose thats what you get for trying to camp in March. Also since we were car camping we brought along our inflatable mattress... I know, I know, we're total wusses, but hey usually it works out great, and I like being comfortable when I can. Maybe I'll write a post about that line between comfort and "real" camping one of these days. Anyhow, since we had this big air mattress, it really let a lot of the cold air up through the ground to the bed.... I suppose its an example of the true dangers of trying to be comfortable while camping ;)

Really good, fun trip though. We did really all the hiking that was reasonable in the park. Even running through the Pioneer trail loop and checking out the massive and impressive Pioneer Redwood (kind of the General Sherman of Samuel P Taylor). See Erica in the tree here. And I'd say all in all it was a successful time. I expect many more to come.
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