Commentary by Rick Rodriguez
Crushing small pebbles and stones with each step on the Dipsea Trail/Marin County, blood coarsing through my veins violently; I gasped for air, relishing in the moment, alone, navigating the trail, again, that serves my soul and breaks up the monotony of the chase; the sun's rays penetrating the back of my neck, I focused on the discomfort I felt in my lower extremities and how I've learn to love the self-inflicted pain of putting my body through yet another physical revival. It was a return for me: a return to the past! It was a return to the Dipsea Trail in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just north of San Francisco, California!
I was once again back on the Dipsea Trail on a picturesque day! What had started out as a nebulous beginning, quickly changed as I dropped deeper into the valley and rose again to what is an open expanse of the Dipsea Trail. The sun had made its appearance and Mother Nature, after hurling a brisk fog at me rewarded my visit with bright rays of sunshine as I crested a small ridge that leads to the Pantoll Station and the descent of what I believe is one of the most amazing 1.5 miles in California--the Steep Ravine Trail!
Passing the sign that said "Dipsea" this way, beckoning me toward the famous trail that connects Mill Valley and Stinson Beach, I opted for the Steep Ravine trail entrance at the Pantoll Station, a 1.7 mile jaunt and then a similar length descent before it intersects with Dipsea on its way down to the shores of Stinson Beach. There is a history there. An irrefutible history that was borne of memories earned through sweat and struggle. But this day was not about the past and as sweat formed on my chin I could think of nothing but inhaling an adequate supply of oxygen and of the joy I was experiencing for the small price I was paying.
The Steep Ravine trail in all its remarkableness can only be thoroughly enjoyed by halting any activity and embracing a moment of silence. It is magnificent but only affords fast glances of its beauty as a runner's focus is always on the precise foot trail placement! Having learned the way of severely sprained ankles, I only deviate from my routine at those intervals where the trail captivates me and I cannot ignore its attention! It grabs me and I respond with awe!
As I descended the ladder, face forward, I had missed this place and perhaps the message was that I needed to get back there! I felt a resurgence; a renewal of sorts, I was reminded how much I needed to work at getting strong again. I was reminded about how good working hard feels! This is me and what I enjoy doing and sharing! Undoubtedly, I will return to this place and though on this day I was alone, an occasional passer-byer breaking up the silence, I was not abandoned of my memory and what this place means to me. This environment responds to my thoughts, hopes, and dreams! It is where I go to renew, replenish and reinvigorate my enthusiasm for them and what I hope to accomplish!
The Dipsea Race
"The Dipsea is well known for its scenic course and challenging trails. After traversing a few blocks in Mill Valley's downtown, runners climb 688 stairs.Leading up the side of Mount Tamalpais, and then pass through Muir Woods National Monument, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The start is at the intersection of Throckmorton and Cascade Drive in Mill Valley, which drew its name from having the first saw mill in Marin County. The Dipsea Trail is the most direct route connecting the town of Mill Valley, located near the northwestern shores of Richardson Bay, with the village of Stinson Beach, situated along the Pacific coast. Stinson Beach is a popular tourist destination, located about a 30-minute drive north of San Francisco on Highway 1, via Golden Gate Bridge. The ascent over the southern shoulder of Mount Tam reaches its apex around the top of Cardiac Hill, 4.1 miles into the race."
Since returning to the Dipsea, I've gone back several times for a renewal; a re-birth of sorts, it works for me and it works for others. The Dipsea delivers time and time again!
Rick Rodriguez is a writer and is frequently published in opinion/editorial sections in local and national newspapers. Rick, a San Francisco Bay Area native and graduate of Saint Mary's College lives in Danville, California with his two children. Contact Rick at email@example.com or (510) 326-4795.
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