Monday, March 2, 2009

Day One, 090301 - Devil's Slide, CA

Day One: Sunday, March 1, 2009
Distance for the Day: 24.7 miles: Ft. Point to Devil’s Slide
Starting/Ending Alt 5'/600' ASL (above sea level)
Speeds: Avg: ?, Max: ?
Weather: Early light rain, cool and overcast rest of day.
Expenditures: $5

Well, I've begun(!) My hang buddy Dave, his wife Renee, and daughter Arianne, came to pick me up at my place, loaded my trike and bags, and took off for SF. Our first stop was to The Bistro restaurant at the Cliff House in SF to have breakfast with along with my brother Rich his wife, Dian, and his son, David. From there, they took me over to Ft. Point, at the south tower of the Golden Gate bridge, which I’d decided to make my launch point. Ever since I was a teenager, this was one of my most favorite places to go. I’ve always liked the feel of the place, where the old fort, built in another era, sat beneath the giant superstructure of the world famous bridge, and where the waves of the ocean would slam against the sea walls, sending liquid walls of water even higher. There’s a big chain along the walls that keep people from falling into the drink whose links practically look like wood, they’ve been rusted and decayed over the decades. I think that’s just cool.

The weather, as predicted, was lightly rainy. Another hang gliding friend, Martin, also showed up, and everyone saw me off with hugs and handshakes and many well-wishes. I started by going up to the pedestrian walkway of the Golden Gate bridge, itself, to get a few pictures. I then began my route south, along the road that goes along the coastline, through the Presidio, past the Legion of Honor, the VA Hospital, and back towards the Cliff House. I made it about half-a-mile north when I thought I’d take a little video of me riding along with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, when I discovered I’d forgotten my notebook computer(!) It was still in the back of Dave’s car, and I had dreadful visions of having to call him back across the bay to bring it to me. Fortunately, Dave and his family had decided to drive ahead of me, back to the Cliff House, to see me pass by, so they hadn’t returned back to the East Bay, yet So, they drove back to where I was by the Presideo golf course, and got my notebook. Dave also helped me take the video I had planned, and then they took off back home for real, this time. If I forgot anything else (and I had), it would have to be sent ahead of me for pickup later on (and it did – my notebook’s power supply!)

I continued south, stopping just before the Cliff House to do a little coastal sightseeting, and then headed out, down the Great Hwypassed Golden Gate Park, and got to Ft. Funston at around 2:30pm. At Funston, I met Chuck, who was very interested in my trike. By coincidence, he had recently become interested in getting one, himself, and I just happened to show up. He told me these kinds of things seemed to happen to him fairly often. By further coincidence, it turns out we had mutual friends: Paul S, a local Funston hang glider pilot, and Alan F, a volunteer astronomer at Chabot(!) Fortunately, things didn’t get any stranger after that. He offered to let me overnight at his place, but since the day was still early, I thanked him for his kind offer, but said I would continue on. And so I did.

At about 3pm, I crossed into San Mateo County, and hit my first big uphill push on Skyline Blvd. – it seemed to go on forever, but I finally crested this monstrously long (but not overly steep) hill, and reaped my reward of high-speed, downhill flight I took a slight detour in Pacifica to visit The Dumps, an unregulated hang/paragliding site, and then to a business section of town where the hang gliding shop, Chandelle, used to be (where I first learned to fly hang gliders). There, I bought a bunch of broccoli and a choco energy drink ($5), before continuing on further south into more of Pacifica.

The rain had stopped, and it was cool, overcast, with light wind, so I stopped at the Pacifica Beach at 5pm to cook up the broccoli using my mini-camp stove and pot with vegetable steamer. Everything worked fine, and in about 25 minutes, I was munching on perfectly cooked veggies. It was getting into the early evening, and was wondering if I should try looking up my astro friend, Joe A (who offered to put me up for the night, if I should pass his way). I decided to try pushing on up Hwy 1, to see how much further I could get. Well, from the south end of Pacifica, the road starts going up, and it was getting dark, and
it’s a winding road with lots of traffic. Slow going, but I was well marked with a flashing frontlight, flashing taillight, and bright triangular rear reflector, so the cars and I treated each other well (didn’t get one honk or skid), and after stopping to rest every now and then, I eventually came out at the top of Devil’s Slide, high above the Pacific coastline. I was pretty pooped by then, thought very little of racing down the long and steep grade at night, and decided that my first campsite would be right there, on the side of the road. There were concrete barriers to protect me from the headlights, and a couple of nice, level slabs of concrete where I could hide my trike and lay out my “weatherproof” sleeping gear (ground tarp, inflatable sleeping pad, bivvy sack [kind of a tent for just a sleeping bag], and sleeping bag). Since this was the first time I’d ever used all these things, together, naturally, they didn’t quite work as advertised, but since it wasn’t really raining, I remained mostly dry for the night, except for the condensation from my own breathing, which was significant. Apparently, however, there was a storm front passing out over the ocean, nearby, and while it didn’t rain, the gust front that precedes a storm front hit, and buffeted me enough to make me wonder if it would push me off the long, steep drop of Devil’s Slide into the Pacific. Also preying on my mind: I covered my trike with the camouflage sheet I brought along for all the “stealth” camping I was planning to do, and was wondering if it had sailed off for Hawaii, or, if it decided to even take my trike along with it. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and jumped out of my protective layers in my bare feet in the high wind to hop over to the slab where I’d parked my trike. Yay! Not only was the trike still there, but the camo-cloth was still there, too, though it was no longer covering the trike. I balled it up and threw it in the trike’s seat, and made sure both brakes were locked. Despite all the wind, bits of rain, and traffic noise (against which I use earplugs), I did manage to get a few bouts of sleep that night, and when the dawn came, I felt rested and ready to go.


Beaky said...

Fantastic Don! So great to hear you're on your way without any serious mishap! We've been thinking about you all day especially when it's coming down sideways and blowing 50 knots. We wonder where you are right now at 19:30. Hopefully snug as a bug in your bivvy sack! R, D & A

skyreiter said...

This is going to be great fun, Don, following you on this adventure. You should plan on writing a book afterwards. I'm sure you will have more than enough adventures to make it publishable.

CVBruce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CVBruce said...

Don, I've got your blog set up in my RSS reader, so as soon as you post, I'll pick it up.

I'm really excited for you, and I look forward to following you on this great adventure.