Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Glorious Day

This weekend we hiked (some of us reluctantly, the 49ers were playing!) 1.7 miles to this dark sand crescent beach in the Marin Headlands. Frothy waves crashed against the cliffs creating mini waterfalls down the lowest portion of the rock face. Blue skies, warm sun and still air had us peeling off the three extra layers any savvy northern Californian wears to the beach. We've been here before, in all seasons, and never have we had more perfect weather.

Oscar was one of the reluctant ones but he came around when I reminded him that he could hunt for semi-precious stones among the dark pebbles.

After lunch Paul and I were reading but Ruby and Abe itched for adventure.  They wanted to climb up that crack in the grassy hillside. 
We let them go.  Five minutes or so passed and I realized I could not see them. I figured I should check on them but I wasn't worried. I slowly laced up my shoes and headed across the beach to the base of the hill. 
I gasped when I reached the crack.  I had no idea how narrow the space. How steep and crumbly the walls.  I started climbing, and my feet slid on the rocks that covered the trail, rocks that had been pulled out of the dirt walls by previous climbers. I climbed faster - slipping, stepping - up the deep and twisty ravine, calling up on decades-old rock climbing skills to grasp tiny rocks poking out of the walls to hoist myself along.
My heart pounded. My legs shook. I worried about Ruby slipping backwards into Abe and the two of them sliding on rockfalls all the way down. Partway up the climb, the walls grew shorter and I could spot them sitting on the old military bunker looking down over the cliff. I hoped Abe knew to keep Ruby from the edges of the sheer cliffs.
Of course they were fine. But definitely not the best idea to let them hike alone.
The views from the top were breathtaking.
We stayed a while just breathing it in.

When I returned to the beach Oscar was eager to show me that he'd found more green and white stones among the black pebbles.
He put them in his pocket for safe-keeping and laid down on the blanket with his book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  He read, I read, and Ruby buried her legs in sand. 

Paul and Abe hiked to the top of the peak above the bunkers and around to the next peak.  When I squinted I could just barely make out their slender figures along the ridge before they disappeared. Later, Ruby and Paul hiked up the crack again while Oscar and I read some more and Abe ran along the shore in and out of the waves.

The sun edged slowly toward the horizon and still we stayed.  Oscar, who usually begs to leave the beach after an hour, was happy on this rare windless day.  I rested my head against a rock and closed my eyes and let the warm sun wash over my face. 

We considered staying on through sunset and hiking back to the car in the dark.  (If only we'd brought our headlamps and an extra snack.)
On our way back we stopped to take this family portrait.  That's me on the left, then Ruby (with her hat and bucket), Paul, Oscar and finally Abe.  

Our glorious day was made even more glorious by an uneventful walk back. No complaining, no whining, no requests for food. Just five hikers, holding hands, chatting, and tossing the football back and forth along the way.


  1. This all sounds amazing—and I love the family portrait!

  2. What a heavenly day. I can see this as a pictorial children's book - a perfect day to share with others who may not live near a beach. Oscar's sweet, huge, smiling eyes say it all.

    Our family LOVES to go to the parks which feature those old bunkers - we have disused forts here which have been turned into parks. I never tire of visiting and hiking around them. Thank you for taking us to your beach.

  3. This sounds like a miracle. I am so happy for you and your family. And that last photo captures it perfectly. You even look archetypal -- the Female.

  4. Dreamy! Especially with an Arctic cold front coming my way!

  5. Such stunning photos Mary. It must have been so beautiful. I love the shadow family photo too.