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63. City Hike (04/25/98)

Hikers (12): Beth, Carla, Carolyn, Eugene, Giri, Jamie, Jinglan, Kathleen, Peter, Russ, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 5 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 10 beauty

Write-up by Peter

After numerous postponements caused by weeks of rain and gloom, the San Francisco City Hike finally took place on a beautiful day by the bay.

Right off the bat, there were two good things that happened on this hike. First, we met up at the Buena Vista Cafe, which gave us an opportunity to go in and "warm up" before the hike with the best Irish coffee in the world. Secondly, the number of women that showed up actually outnumbered the men! The only other time this had ever happened was on the first City Hike. I'm beginning to see a pattern developing here...

Welcome to INCH newbies Carla, Carolyn, and Kathleen. Considering that Carla had met Steve before, I am truly surprised that she would show up to the hike (and bring two other nice people along as well)!

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

The route we took this time was much nicer than the last City Hike. Instead of breathing smog and fighting our way through traffic, we started at Fisherman's Wharf and headed due west, walking along the trails leading through Fort Mason and along the Marina and Crissy Field towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was a gorgeous day and the runners, bikers, rollerbladers, and walkers were out in force. There was a March of Dimes walk going on in the area, and we had to avoid being crushed like ants while walking against the tide. Fortunately the crowds thinned out as we went further along and we were able to pick up the pace a little bit.

As we approached the bridge, we encountered our first (and only) uphill portion of the hike. It was no Mt. Sizer! The whole thing was over in a couple of minutes and the studly INCHers had not even broken a mild sweat. Esteban, Jamie, and the three newbies were the first ones to make it to the bridge. I had stayed back to make sure the stragglers were on track, and then continued on up to the top.

Figuring that we had some time to kill before the others arrived, I made good use of the time by properly initiating the newbies into the INCH! Unfortunately, my shirt partially covered the view so it was more of a partial eclipse than a full moon, but I think they got the flavor of it!


Ah, yes! My old nemesis, the bridge! As we began our walk across, I was worried that I would have another panic attack. Fortunately, my worries were not realized. Maybe it was the little pep talk I gave myself, or maybe it was the Irish coffee, but whatever it was, it helped. I made it across without much difficulty. Sure, there were some moments of trepidation, and I was walking about twice as fast as I usually do, but overall it was a piece of cake compared to the last visit. If I do this a couple hundred more times, I may even be able to look down!

On the other side, we all regrouped. Taylor's new shoes were giving her problems and she already had blisters on her feet. This was not a good sign. At least the majority of the hike was over.

We rested for a short while, then headed down the road to Sausolito for lunch. Kathleen knew of a nice deli and we wasted no time. I was so hungry, I could eat a bear. Instead, I followed the lead of The Man and went for the House Special -- a tasty Italian sandwich, which I enhanced with a generous helping of potato salad and a nice, cold Dr. Pepper. Life is good!

After lunch, it was lazy time. We had about an hour and half to kill until the next ferry back to the wharf. We walked down the strip, watching the people and checking out the cutesy little tourist shops. Good thing we weren't in a hurry because Taylor's feet were really hurting and she could barely walk. I new she was really in pain because she didn't want to go into any of the stores.

We found a nice spot in a little park near the ferry stop and sat down. From our vantage point, we could see all the activities going on around us -- beautiful people in flashy cars, tourists, and locals all milling about. Naturally, the Fashion Police (Muffy and Buffy) were having a field day commenting on the outfits the different women were wearing.

Esteban, Jamie, Carla, Carolyn, and Kathleen decided to take an earlier ferry back to the Embarcadero, so they headed out. The Fashion Police took a break and went off in search of ice cream. Giri was sitting somewhere in a coffee shop and Eugene, Rusty, and Jinglan had also disappeared. I took advantage of the peace and quiet and stretched out in the nice, warm sun. No sooner had I gotten comfy than a couple came and sat down right next to me and began arguing loudly. The conversation went something like,

"Why do you have to have an attitude?"

"Me??? You have the attitude!"

"No, you have the attitude!"

"No, you have the attitude!"

"No, you have the attitude!"

Repeat this about 100 times (emphasizing a different word each time) and I think you will begin to understand the reason that I developed a sudden, sharp headache. Fortunately, they left a few minutes later (I never did ascertain for sure who had the attitude), and the Chihuahua showed up with his fanny pack, which I knew contained aspirin.

The tension was only about to begin. Just then, Taylor and Muffy began crossing the street, carrying their ice cream cones. Taylor was walking really slowly -- pretty much at a snail's pace -- and a motorist who was trying to turn into the street made the mistake of beeping his horn at her. Needless to say, my baby gave the man a piece of her mind! "Hey, my f---in' feet hurt, OK??"

But wait, there's more! As we sat on the little wall looking around, Giri and Eugene happened to occasionally glance across the street at a woman who was sitting at a sidewalk table. This lady was rather, shall we say, well-endowed. After a little while, it seemed that the boys' glances turned into more of a stare, prompting her to get up and switch her seat. I didn't really think much of it, but as I was talking to Rusty, I suddenly noticed a huge muscular guy making a bee-line towards our group. The gorilla was steamed!! Bits of food were flying out of his mouth as he came charging across the street. He headed straight for Giri and stuck a finger in his face, "I'm only going to say this once -- STOP STARING AT ME!!"

There was a moment of stunned silence, then he turned around and went stomping back across the street. I thought Giri had missed a golden opportunity to correct the man and tell him that he was staring at his wife, not him! Under the circumstances, it seemed like the wisest thing to do was to just keep quiet. I comforted Giri by letting him know that this incident would go into the write-up for the whole world to see.

Well, that certainly was a fun afternoon, wasn't it?

The ferry ride back was very peaceful by comparison. The only highlight for me was watching Rusty clutch on to the railing for dear life as the boat went up and down across the choppy water. For a while it looked like the House Special was going be making a return appearance, but The Man managed to weather the storm.

Muffy, Buffy, and Rusty on the ferry

Back on dry land, we headed straight back to the Buena Vista for a few rounds of Irish coffee as we recounted the adventures of the day. This will go down as one of the most memorable hikes ever.

Rusty, Giri, Esteban, Peter, Muffy, Eugene, Taylor, and Jinglan at the BV

This is how we look from the other end of the table

Carla's 1st leaf
Carolyn's 1st leaf
Kathleen's 1st leaf

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