If I go walking in the afternoon, it is habitually across the rough foot-track towards the headwaters of the small creek that runs below the house, and then up to the saddle. From there a broader track continues up to Point Reyes Hill at 1336ft. Most of this path is through thick, close, regrowth forest, with more open areas of shrubs and grasses nearer the top. The views are extensive, but usually at least partially shrouded in one direction or another (or all at once) by fog. If I go walking in the morning, it is usually down the fire trail that reaches the top of Perth Way, winding down into town (to get some groceries from the store, or a coffee at Blackbirds), and then up the Highland Way. The track passes down through older mixed forest of moss covered Bay and Oak with scattered old pines, Red Alder in the creek lines. There's an enticingly narrow side track which spirals up a small hill halfway down, covered in a scrub of stunted and knarled pines and lots of red trunked Madrone and Manzaneta.
It was time to take a different route. Even before reaching new territory, I was treated to a close up view of a Turkey Vulture, settling down for the evening. I knew then this walk was going to be special.
From the map Max and Gemma left in the house at the end of their residency, I knew there was another track up the ridge, starting from the top of Perth Way and leading to Mt Vision. Somehow it hadn't attracted me before, I thought it would be much the same, and besides, Point Reyes Hill is higher than Mt. Vision and with a clearer view, so despite it's grand name, Mt Vision wasn't high on priorities. Yesterday I discovered it has has been keeping secrets from me. As I branched off the Perth track, and headed back up the steep hill, I soon realised this track had much to offer. There was much more of the stunted and lichen covered scrub that I thought was an anomaly on the other hill. The pines in this area all take on fantastical shapes, even as they get taller, higher up the hill. As I climbed further the Bishop Pines took on yet another forest structure that I hadn't seen before. The trees grew tall and close, with no other larger species of tree, creating and expansive open feel. For a species with restricted range, it is certainly very variable.
Just before the ridge, there is a sudden boundary between the tallest of the pines, and the line which must have been the edge of the vision fire. From there on the pines are young and close, but soon opens out entirely into coastal scrub. The views of distant mountains from the top was the best I've seen here yet, and made even more dramatic by hovering above the thick and luminous fog that filled the bay and valleys below. Just the night before Josh had told me the temperature inversions start to occur around this time of year, and this was obviously it. Despite being late in the day, the hill top was warm and sunny and calm. The fog was glorious from above, but town must have been gloomy and cold.
I was feeling energised and excited, like in the first days of exploring this new place. A quick chat with a local out walking, led to being shown the unofficial track leading to 'the ponds', a spring filled dam, perched here on the top of the range. How fortuitous to discover this place on a warm afternoon! My first swim in America, and it was glorious, swimming in the golden light above the fog.