This post is a bit of a fudge, because it has a little bit to do with cancer. UCSF has a fabulous Cancer Resource Center where you can get a free fitness evaluation, take yoga, tai-chi and pilates, learn about nutrition, sample the patient library, meet for a knitting circle and many other things. If you wanted to, you could spend half your time attending all the education and lifestyle programs offered there.
So, a couple weeks ago, I do the fitness evaluation. I know I need to lose weight; and there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to give me a kick in the pants to really do so. The exercise consultant’s advice is to stretch, do light strength exercises and walk, walk, walk, and then walk some more. Running, cycling, rollerblading—and all the jiggling implied—don’t work for someone still recovering from breast cancer surgery.
So, most weekdays after I drop my daughter at her school in Corte Madera, I now go for a hike on Ring Mountain Nature Preserve, which is, quite literally, across the street. The cancer makes me start doing the hike, but everything about it is NOT cancer:
Rustling past the dry grasses as the dog and I make our way through the lower elevation marshland, well at least it’s a marsh in the spring before the rains stop.
Inhaling the smell of dust and live oak and grass, the smell of home.
Being grateful that the dog ignores a fawn hoof attached to part of a leg lying in the trail, a reminder that while nature is beautiful, it not always benign.
Scrambling up a grassy, rocky ridge and thinking that if it were just a little wetter, it could be a British heath.
Comparing the various mosaics of lichen on the boulders we pass.
Feeling the trickle of sweat down my back and the warmth of my thigh muscles working. Hiking Marin County is usually straight up, then straight down.
Pausing at the top of the ridge to enjoy the view.
Feeling the cool wind from the bay dry my sweat.
Starting back down, and remembering to be careful of middle-aged knees.
Wondering if the live oaks nestled in the folds of the mountain have been here since before Marin got fabulous, since this was Miwok territory.
Watching the dog lap a bit of water from what will be a creek come spring. Marveling that any water can remain this late in the dry season.
Stretching on the last bridge before the trailhead. Enjoying the feeling of slightly tired muscles.
Being grateful that hiking is so easy here. I have missed this for 20 years.