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Kayak the Albion River

Kayaking up stream, the river stirs.  A harbor seal pokes his head above the surface 10474485290?profile=originaland stares back at us.  Overhead, an osprey glides, searching for lunch.  Blue herons perch on limbs of firs, pines, and redwoods on the river banks.  We startle a cormorant.  Madly slapping the river and running along the surface, she takes flight.

The Albion River meets the Pacific eight miles south of Mendocino.  Turn east on the first road north of the bridge, and follow it to Albion River10474485072?profile=original Campground to launch.  We paddled a few miles upstream.  Floating back, we let the gentle current do the work, wanting to savor the joy and serenity of being on the river.

The Albion River Campground, 707-937-0606, rents kayaks and canoes from early spring to late fall.  They have RV and tent sites on the river, or you can stay in one of their RVs.

Walkabout California – connecting with the natural world through travel, outdoor adventure, and hiking 10474485478?profile=originalinn-to-inn.  Savor the journey and the destination. Click here for California inn-to-inn hiking guides.

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Hiking Grizzly Island

A small herd of tule elk bounded out of the trees and into the marsh.  All males with 10474475254?profile=originalimpressive racks, they splashed through the shallows startling egrets and sending a flock of ducks aloft as they raced to an open field and disappeared.

Grizzly Island, 8,800 acres of marshland is a maze of ponds, sloughs, rivers and fields.  You can take the 8-mile driving tour and see wildlife, but you need to leave the car and hike the levee trails to experience the amazing abundance of raptures, waterfowl, river otters, and the elk.

We hiked in early February, shortly after the park had reopened from its five-month elk and waterfowl hunting season.  Those 600-800 pound male elk will soon drop their massive antlers.  In10474475654?profile=original the spring, a new set will start to grow.  A hungry northern harrier glided gracefully over the marsh and startled a flock of hundreds of snow geese.  They rose as one with a cacophony of squawks, circled and flew to a distant pond to resettle.  A pair of river otters playfully embraced and tumbled in a nearby slough.  Herons and egrets grazed in the shallows. Flocks of ducks paddled and fed in small ponds.  Red-tailed hawks and white-tailed kites circled overhead.

Located near Fairfield off I-80, the island is part of a patchwork of 10 separate parcels in the Grizzly Island 10474475852?profile=originalWildlife Area.  (Directions, fee information, public use schedules or call 707-425-3828)  It is in the heart of the 84,000 acre Suisun Marsh, the largest contiguous estuarine marsh in the U.S.

We saw only two other hikers and a fisherman as we hiked six miles on levee trails that leave from eight designated parking areas.  The sun was nearing the western horizon as we headed back to our car, casting long shadows over Mt. Diablo.  Rounding a bend, we spotted a white-tailed kite with a grey back, white head, and piercing eyes, perched atop a fence post.  She stared at us.  Then bored with our presence, she lifted with a few flaps, circled, and glided off.  It was a beautiful sight, ending a serene day of hiking in the wildlife wonderland of Grizzly Island.10474475683?profile=original


Walkabout California – connecting with the natural world through travel, outdoor adventure, and hiking inn-to-inn.  Savor the journey and the destination. Click here for California inn-to-inn hiking guides.

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The Joys of a Multi-Day Hike from Inn-to-Inn

There is a surge of popularity for hiking from inn-to-inn in Europe, and the same is true in 10474474652?profile=originalCalifornia.  Adventurers hike trails connecting coastal villages along the wild Pacific.  They trek through the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains, along the serene beaches of Southern California, and through the parklands around the San Francisco Bay.  Each day ends with a comfortable bed, a hot shower, a good meal, and perhaps even a therapeutic massage or a soak in a hot springs.



“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, 10474474300?profile=originalwas really going in.”  -John Muir

We are drawn to wilderness to take respite from our modern urban lives, to connect with nature and with ourselves. The multiday hiker delights in a special joy from hiking in the wilderness.  Leave the car behind to hike for a few days, and you have the time to process the do-do list and plan the work that needs to be done when the hike is over, but also the time to daydream, to contemplate, to meditate, to have an unhurried conversation with a friend that might last three days.  The mind10474474854?profile=original slows as the miles pass. The hiker goes, not only into the woods, but deeper into herself.  If a pilgrimage is a walk to a sacred site, then perhaps nature’s wild places are our cathedrals, and every extended hike in nature is a pilgrimage both to a place and into one’s heart.


Backpackers know the 10474475092?profile=originaljoys of a multiday hike, but sometimes you just don’t want to sleep on the ground.  Strap on a 12-15 lb. daypack and hike the Marin Coast from the Headland to Point Reyes, stopping each evening in a coastal village where you can explore the pubs and restaurants.  Cross the Sierra in the footsteps of the pioneers and stay in cabins on the the shores of clear mountain lakes.  Take a romantic stroll along the beautiful Mendocino Coast and enjoy gourmet cuisine at inns perched on bluffs overlooking the vast Pacific.  Hike Lassen, exploring mountains lakes, deep canyons, and otherworldly hydrothermal landscapes with a visit to a rustic guest ranch where you will enjoy sumptuous dining and a muscle-soothing soak in a hot springs pool.

Leave the car behind, and explore some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world.  Take a hike from inn-to-inn.

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Yellowstone in the Winter

The summer Yellowstone crowds disappear, and serenity settles on the land for both people and animals.  Bison gather in the geyser basins where food is more 10474460694?profile=originalabundant.  Elk graze along river banks.  Wolves and coyotes come to pick off the vulnerable.

     Yellowstone is unique in the world – 2 million acres with 10,000 hydrothermal features – hot springs, mud pots, and geysers.  All of the park’s roads close from early Nov. to mid-April, except one road from the NE 10474461280?profile=originalentrance into Mammoth Hot Springs.  Once there is enough snow, you can enter this ethereal paradise only by snowcoach or snowmobile.

     We came in from West Yellowstone on a 4-hour snowcoach ride along the Madison River, then south along the Firehole to Old Faithful, stopping to observe and photograph wildlife – bison, elk, coyotes.  We spotted the carcass of a bull elk, his skull and antlers lay in the snow.  A pack of wolves had brought him down.  Coyotes feasted after the wolves had eaten their fill.  Raccoons, mice, and other smaller creatures followed.  Ravens were taking their turn when we arrived.  Insects will finish the job.  Raw nature and the vivid cycle of life.10474462055?profile=original

     Old Faithful Snow Lodge is the only lodging in the park.  Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is closed in the winter for renovations.  It should reopen in winter 2018-19.  We stayed in a cozy cabin.  There is a grill, a good restaurant, and a comfortable lounge.  Even though they have a monopoly, prices are reasonable.

     Old Faithful is the central attraction.  More than 1,000 people will gather to watch it erupt in the summer - in the winter, maybe 20-30.  We hiked for hours through the Upper Geyser Basin, meeting only a few other hikers.  What a contrast to the summer throngs.

 10474462092?profile=original    Deep hot springs, with brilliant blue and yellow pools, steam in the cool air.  Geysers, each with its own personality, bubble and spout or fire jets of boiling water and steam high into the sky.  The beautiful Firehole River meanders through the basin, geysers steaming along its banks.  At times we needed to take a detour around a gang of bison or a single bull. 

     Bring your cross country skis and snowshoes, or rent them once you arrive.  You can ski or snowshoe on trails from Old Faithful or take a shuttle and ski back.  We hiked the geyser basin trails with tracs, traction devices attached to our boots.  They are sold in the Old Faithful store.

     Lodging at Old Faithful Snow Lodge starts at $149/night.  For reservations, call 307-344-7311 or go to 10474462489?profile=originalwww.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com.  Enter the park by snowcoach or snowmobile tour from the west, north, or south entrance.  Start your research at www.nps.gov/yell.

     Leaving the park, our driver, Les, spotted a lone wolf, ½ mile away.  With binoculars, we saw a nearby pack of five.  The lone wolf slowly approached the pack.  This was the first time Heidi or I had seen a wolf in the wilds.  Les, a retired park ranger, was as excited as we were to watch this drama.  He speculated that the lone male was searching for a pack to join. 

     “They are pack animals,” he said, “and a 10474463260?profile=originallone wolf will not thrive.”

     The lone male approached slowly, tentatively.  Things did not go well.  The pack spotted him.  We could not hear the exchange, but it was clear he was not welcome.  The pack moved forward, menacing, and the lone wolf streaked away over the hill and into the woods.

Add winter in Yellowstone to your bucket list.


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Hiking Inn-to-Inn on the Marin Coast

Hike the coastal bluffs and forests of America’s western edge, some of the most 10474459682?profile=originalbeautiful country in California.  This moderate 41-mile, 4-day Walkabout starts in Marin Headlands, just 10 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, and hikes to Point Reyes National Seashore.

The first two days are an easy stroll, perfect for a weekend adventure.  Day 1 (7miles) traverses coastal hills and cliffs above the Pacific to Muir Beach. Settle in at the Pelican Inn.10474460066?profile=original Modeled after a 16th century English country public house, you can enjoy its convivial pub and restaurant, while transported to a bygone era.  Or savor a stay at the serene Green Gulch Zen Farm and ascend to a higher plane while dining on delicious vegetarian fare.

Climb the flank of Mt. Tam on Day 2 (6.8miles).  Then descend through a redwood forest to Stinson Beach.  10474460858?profile=originalExplore the many delights of this charming seaside village – restaurants, bars, shops, and miles of State Beach.

Walk to fun and friendly Bolinas on Day 3 (13.5 miles) by hiking up Willow Camp Trail.  Below you, views unfold of the small boats of the fishing fleet; freighters sailing in and out of the Gate; and on a clear day, the Farallon Islands jutting out of the Pacific, 27 miles off shore.10474461064?profile=original

The final leg of the journey (14 miles) travels through 4 miles of ranchland before entering Point Reyes National Seashore.  Hike the spine of the coastal range through spruce, bay, and fir forest before descending into Olema Valley.  10474461089?profile=originalSavor your final miles hiking Rift Zone Trail into Olema, where a handful of B&Bs await you.  You have hiked through some of the most spectacular wilderness in California while enjoying enchanting coastal hamlets, elegant inns, and wonderful dining - hiking inn-to-inn on the Marin Coast.


The Marin Coast Walkabout is one of a dozen inn-to-inn hikes found in 10474462078?profile=original“Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn.”  It can also be purchased as an individual guide.



“Why not walk in the direction of life, enjoying peace in each moment with every step? There is no need to struggle. Enjoy each step. We have already arrived.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

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