Marin Headlands Loop in Reverse

9:51pm - Rodeo Beach

Saturday, 18 June 2016. Marin Headlands (25-mile) Loop Counter-Clockwise

This jaunt marked the 4th time DD’s traversed this trail, and my 2nd (account of my 1st here). The challenge – start at 2pm and finish after dark (~10pm), and do the loop in the opposite, counter-clockwise direction. Our plan:

  • Segment 1: Rodeo → Lagoon Trail →  Bobcat Trail → SCA Trail → Slacker Pass → Golden Gate Bridge
  • Segement 2: Golden Gate Bridge → Slacker Pass → SCA Trail → Marincello → Tennessee Valley
  • Segment 3: Tennessee Valley → Miwok Trail → Coyote Ridge → Muir Beach → Pirate’s Cove → Tennessee Valley
  • Segment 4: Tennesee Valley → Old Springs Trail –> Wolf Ridge → Coastal Trail → Rodeo Beach

Overall reflections

Doing the course in reverse led my mind to think constantly: were the uphills more painful? Are they worse in this direction? Less painful? The downhills didn’t seem as bad, since we were not running them as much. All in all, though, the course is as difficult counter-clockwise as it is clockwise. It was warm out, but not too bad. It definitely got cooler as the sun went down.

Bunnies at dusk

But – what seemed to be an endearing difference: Bunnies came out in scads around early evening, (6pm) and didn’t seem as skittish/ scared as they were in the earlier morning.

Doing the course (partially) in the evening

Energy levels seemed fine, even with one less Gu consumed. I always seem to run/ move better in the late afternoons/ evenings in any case.

It didn’t get completely dark until 9:15pm or so. And, we had a gorgeous, big, fat, full moon! Still, I felt the need to turn on my headlamp for the last hour. My night vision is not great, and the first few minutes adjusting with the headlamp were still challenging. Perhaps I should have used a less-bright setting, but the strong beam made everything look flat – depth perception was initially non-existent. Still, DD didn’t have his headlamp, so my light helped him out as well. And eventually I think my vision eventually adjusted. Nothing scary appeared in the dark, and we only encountered one runner, around 9pm, heading towards Muir Beach. He grinned at us and said “I like how you guys think!” DD had expected more folks to be out and about, though, with the good weather, full moon, and clear night.

First hike after sunset, first counterclockwise loop


At first I was nervous that the night might bring Karl (the Fog) and winds and way cooler temps. Obsessive checking of the weather reassured me enough for me to take another gamble with regular tank/ running shorts and my standard long-sleeved tech tee and additional windbreaker jacket. And that was just fine. The tank and shorts were perfect for the full sun during the day. In the evening, Karl never rolled in, and by the time we arrived in Tennessee Valley for the last time around sunset (8:45pm), it was cooler and breezy but I found that donning my long-sleeved tech tee was definitely sufficient for the rest of the 3 miles back to the Rodeo Beach parking lot.

Ultimate Direction Adventure Pack

I ended up getting the smaller version of DD’s Peter Bakwin pack. It fits me indeed, but its smaller size means that the pockets (still deliciously numerous) are smaller as well. It held a good amount of stuff, including 2 litres of water, a 17-oz. UD soft flask (included with the vest), my iphone 6 and a bandana, 7 or 8 Gus, 3 fun size candy bars, a Kind Bar, a cliff bar, and Cliff Shot Bloks, a small ziploc bag of Cheetos, a headlamp, my windbreaker, sunblock, and a long-sleeved tech tee. It could have carried more.

Though I had purchased an Ultimate Direction-specific bladder to use with the pack, it turned out that my longer, and thinner Platypus Big Zip fit just as well, and felt more comfortable on my back. The Ultimate Direction bladder was smaller, but fatter, and felt a bit bulgy and bouncy. Also: because the bladder pocket lines up right against my back, the water becomes quite warm. I wonder how the Nathan VaporShadow would have helped with this, with its insulated pocket.

Attempts to affix my hiking poles to the pack proved to be beyond my ken this round.

Finally, I had one last gripe, which could have been assuaged by correcting a mistake: to not carry my car key fob in a pocket that sat directly above where my bladder hose threaded over my shoulder. The result was a small bruise due to some pounding of the strap, the hose, and the key fob on my shoulder. Removing the key seemed to help. No more carrying larger, bulkier items in that pocket!


I consumed only 4 Gus this time, 2 fun size paydays and the usual 3 Tailwinds. Also, half a Kind Bar at Tennessee Valley stop #1. The heat was not conducive to eating, and I had no appetite and felt slightly nauseous trying to chew the melty chocolate and almond bits. So down went another Gu. I brought some Cheetos but ended up not consuming them. Again, no appetite, likely due to the heat.


This time, we didn’t have the advantage of hitting Old Springs Trail, with its serendipitous horse trough and spring-faucet, early on in the hike. So when we descended into Tennessee Valley for the first time, we approached the Miwok Livery Stables office. DD had noticed on previous hikes a long, curled green hose hanging on the side of the building. DD peeped in, said hello to a dog which initially ruffed mildly at him, and asked for permission to take some water. “It’s not filtered – if you think it’s safe,” replied the pleasant woman in the office.” “We have something to treat the water. Many thanks,” was DD’s reply.


My left knee was hurting a little prior to the hike. DD’s knee had been achy on and off since he had started doing these hikes, so we didn’t run as much as we did during my first time on the course. Ah, the joys of aging! I definitely did not feel as sun-shocked/ exhausted as I had anticipated. Re-application of sunblock probably helped, as did Tailwind, most likely. And apart from my knee, and general overall stiffness in my legs, my quads were not thrashed this time.

Marin Headlands Loop (25 miles)

To come… whether we end up signing up for the PCTR race!


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  • lila herbst

    omg i’ve been looking at hydration vests/packs for running, and that PB vest looks amazing! so many pockets but still so light!

    • Hi Lila! Yes! I LOVE the pocketses! 🙂 Definitely a great running vest (if you don’t mind the warm water). 🙂 I would not recommend getting the Ultimate Direction bladder (sold separately).