It’s brutally, unforgivingly cold here on the farm — day after day of single-digit temperatures, with no relief in the forecast. Cabin fever. I’m spending my days bundled up on the couch, wishing for warmer weather, thinking about hiking. I’m shopping for gear, planning some backpacking trips, and dreaming of a long thru-hike in my maybe distant future.

I’ve also been reflecting on some of the incredible places I’ve been lucky enough to hike. With all the breath-stealing cold and the ceaseless gray skies this week — I’ve found myself more than once scrolling through these pictures of my first trip to California with Molly in 2012. Summer, bright open sky, my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean’s deep jewel blue. Point Reyes National Seashore was like a mirage, a place with too much beauty to take in at once. Our hike on the Tomales Trail was like a dream — wildflowers, animal life, salt mist on the wind, the surf crashing far below as we stood on vista after vista, marveling at the views. I’d never seen anything like it.

We hiked 12 miles that day, the whole length of Tomales Trail from Pierce Point Ranch to Tomales Point and back, and then down to McClures Beach and back up again to the parking lot. We saw scores of tule elk — they’re only found in California. We ate sandwiches on a sandy overlook near the point, because we were starving by then. When we got to McClures Beach I took my shoes and socks off and waded into the ocean, even though it was stone cold and even though there were rip current warnings posted everywhere. I had to have my feet in the Pacific, I said. I didn’t know when I’d get another chance.

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