A washout on Tam

On Saturday, I organised a trail run on Mt Tam. I only have 9 more weekends in the Bay Area and the lovely Layla moves to Oregon in three weeks, so a load of gorgeous girls came out to run and say goodbye. I was in charge of route planning. My goal was to run Coastal Trail, a particularly lovely trail with ocean views that is on my  Bay Area Bucket list. So I planned the route – just under 10 miles of trails, views and hills.

(This is the route I planned, in case this is useful).

The forecast got steadily more dismal over the week. It started as cloudy, then showers and then steady rain. Maybe those views wouldn’t be quite as ‘view-y’.

It was an early start – to fit in with various family arrangements, we met at Pan Toll Ranger Station at 7am – a 5.00am start for a lot of us. The benefit of that was that we got parking but it was a little early. In the end, there were 16 ladies gathered to run so we started with a selfie! It was cold and drizzling but we set off in excellent spirits.


The first few miles were lovely. We started on Matt Davis Trail which was flat as it wound its way around the mountain. We were strung out along the trail and all I could hear was the sound of happy women talking. It was pretty awesome. I was chatting with Caitlin, she was advising me on how to pack for long travels and all was good. The rain was intermittent and we got a lovely shot of SF in the distance.



Photo: Layla

Soon enough we turned left up Nora trail. It was steep so we did some hiking but it was fairly runnable and eventually we emerged at West Point Inn where we regrouped. My preschool teacher skills got some usage as I kept counting heads to make sure we didn’t lose anyone. (It helps if you remember how many people you started with).

Layla takes the best group photos!

We didn’t linger long as it was a little chilly – we headed off on Rock Springs Trail. This was a lovely trail – fairly flat, very runnable but very pretty. As long as we were moving, we were warm enough. At one point, the trail split with no signs at all – we had a quick confab and went left and soon enough emerged at the Mountain Theatre at a campsite.

Me and Lisa. Photo: Kristen

And then it all went wrong. No signage. No trace of our next trail. It was cold and wet. We consulted sodden maps. We spoke to people who had no idea. We ran here and there trying to find the trail. We thought we found a lead, it wasn’t a lead. We had 16 wet cold women running aimlessly around in the rain.

We wondered if we headed up Rock Springs a little further if we’d get to our next trail but there was no guarantee and a few people were so wet and cold they couldn’t get warm, so we ended up splitting. Some people training for a 50k braved the wind and rain and pressed on to see if they could find the trail. Five of us (including me) caved to the siren call of coffee and brunch and headed down Old Mine to the car park. A few minutes later, three others ran back to join us…one blast of cold, wet wind and they too wanted the coffee!

Yorkshire weather, Bay Area rental prices!
‘Smile’, I told them, ‘Look happy!’

We got back to the car park with just under six miles in our legs. This was frankly a bit rubbish, bearing in mind people had got up at 5am and driven for an hour to run in the rain, and I felt bad about getting us lost, but everyone seemed happy enough and the endorphins were buzzing.

We got changed – my hands were so cold I could’t do up my bra – and headed down the mountain for brunch at the Dipsea Cafe, where eggs, coffee and a roaring fireplace confirmed we’d made the right decision 🙂


We then proceeded to the San Francisco Running Company, where we bought cool running stuff we didn’t need, but Layla and I at least knew we’d be grateful for these souvenirs when we live a long way from the lovely Tam trails.

The only cougar I want to see

In retrospect I know where we went wrong – when the trail split on Rock Springs, we should have gone straight instead of left. That would have linked nicely to the next trail. If it hadn’t been cold and wet we could have checked our maps, the maps wouldn’t have been sodden, we could have got our phones out to check better, we would have been able to stand around for a few minutes instead of shivering…but there we are. Later, I spoke to some of the badasses who continued and they’d found the trail eventually and had a good run but I feel bad for getting us all lost.

Tam gave me a master-class today for UK trail running.

  • I’ll need more, warmer clothes.
  • I’ll need gloves.
  • I’ll need a laminated map.
  • I’ll need great friends who don’t hate me for getting them lost in the rain.

Despite this, I think we all had a good morning. It’s never a bad morning for new, beatiful trails, for lovely running buddies, for good food and for hugging friends farewell.

However…Coastal Trail is still calling my name! Tam, I’ll be back.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Nic J says:

    Note to self if we do trail running on your return to Blighty (which is clearly on the cards given the shoes I’ve bought!), I’m map reading… 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      I am actually pretty solid at map reading…but it was raining so hard the map melted 🙂

      1. NicJ says:

        OS do laminated maps – I’ll get us one of those!
        Still sounds like an epic outing regardless! X

  2. bt says:

    so bummed to be missing all of your bucket list runs.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Me too!!!! But Colorado…

  3. Angela says:

    Still jealous. 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      We missed you xx

  4. Jen says:

    I didn’t mind at all! Let’s go back before you leave.

  5. gracechua31 says:

    Only 9 weekends left in the Bay Area!! Yikes, this is getting real. Also real: all-weather running. I was beginning to think you led a charmed trail life. 🙂

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