With the gyms closed during the pandemic, many of us have had to find new exercise venues. When businesses were ordered to close, I ordered a set of adjustable weights and bands so I could at least do a semblance of weight training at home. That’s been great, but involves exercising at home, inside a house that I’m spending way too much time in these days. As much as I love being at home and being a homebody, I’ve needed to get out of the house at least once a day to maintain my sanity.
So while there are some great hiking trails in the area (Marin Headlands being my favorite), I needed to find something closer by that I could fit into my work-from-home schedule.
At first I had a routine where I just walked down the hill, made my way up and down a stairway at the bottom of the hill a few times (a nod to the old training exercise of running up and down an empty stadium), and back home. As time went on and I built up my walking and cardio stamina, I added additional neighborhood blocks to extend the walk. Adding these blocks was particularly cool as I’d never really walked around my neighborhood without having some purpose, whether it be to catch a train, go to the store, or walk the dog. But now I was just walking around randomly, enjoying discovering buildings I’d driven by many times before but never really looked at closely.
Then one day as I extended my walk, I decided to check out a hillside staircase I’d seen many times before but never bothered to check out and climb. Was it a trail? Where did it lead? Maybe it was just a service stair leading to something like a water tank. But worth checking out.
The stairway itself was formidable, and a good proxy for those stadium stairs of yore. At the top was a simple bench and a decent view. But from there, a dirt trail continued.
I continued up this trail, not sure what to expect. As it progressed, the landscape became more and more wild, to the point it was hard to imagine this was still within the city limits of San Francisco. Climbing the hill still further and higher, I encountered some of the same sights and smells I enjoy in the Marin Headlands, particularly the smells of brush and anise. Through the foliage were glimpses of the Bay. The trail was not very long, maybe just half a mile, and terminated with a couple of lonely picnic tables.
This trail has become one of my favorite places, and I discovered it entirely by accident. The many times I’ve been up here I’ve encountered another person just once, and that was at the bench at the top of the stairway. So this trail feels special and secret.
Had it not been for the gym closing, I’m not sure I would have started my neighborhood walk fitness routine, which lead me to this trail. But now, even with gyms reopening (to some extent), I’m wanting to keep coming here.
As awful as the pandemic has been, there has been the occasional silver lining. Finding this place has been one of them.