The Pacific Coast Highway: Port Reyes and The Golden Gate

The first time I heard of Port Reyes National Seashore was when I saw the exit sign. It’s not on my list, but what good is a life list that doesn’t allow detours?

I saw arrow signs pointing to the Port Reyes Lighthouse. Since I had no idea what the park offered, I had no reason to not follow them. As it turns out, I showed up on a day the lighthouse was closed, but I found enough to make the two-hour detour worthwhile, lofty views of a deep blue Pacific Ocean, miles of uncrowded beaches, and a national park full of trails worthy of a future visit. I say, future visit, because my sights are set on another mountain. And I'd like to beat the first alpine snowfall to the top of it.

After a drive around Port Reyes, I got off the Pacific Coast Highway to cross a small item off my list, “Drive Over the Golden Gate Bridge.”

When I got to San Francisco, something occurred to me almost immediately.

“Oh, yeah… I hate big cities,” I said to myself.

Somehow, I always forget that and end up with unsubstantiated high expectations when going to a big city. It’s no different than how I will continue to go to All-You-Can-Eat Chinese buffets even though, without fail, I leave thinking, “Ugh, I’m never eating Chinese food again.”

San Francisco seems like a nice place, it’s just after this past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned I have a strong preference for a quiet unhurried life. And I haven't found big cities to be compatible with that.

I went from quiet forests and relaxing beach to a sea of tourists and hectic traffic jams. I prefer people in smaller doses. Don’t get me wrong, I love being around people, but I love a refreshing glass of ice water too, and yet still have little desire to be tossed into the Arctic Ocean.

Once I crossed the legendary bridge, I was ready to leave. I promptly set my GPS to Yosemite National Park.

My next and final hike for the summer will be a two or three week journey, but at the end, I’ll be standing on the summit of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. What better place is there to bring a summer exploring America’s best wilderness to a close?

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I’m sure to have limited cell service during this time and will only be able to upload low quality cell phone camera photos, but I’ll continue to update the blog as often as possible. As always, thanks for reading.

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A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.