Saturday, November 28, 2009
Walk #332: The Old Toll Road
I am in training. Finally.
The goal: a couple of long hikes in January--one possible (requiring a passport and not definite)--the other quite definite. Still in the Napa Valley, I have decided to do hill work every other day. Today it is a hill day.
So for this hill workout, I chose the road that Robert Louis Stevenson took with his bride to get to their first matrimonial residence: A shack on Mount St. Helena. Later, RLS would write about the time they spent there in his book: The Silverado Squatters. What I need are roads and paths that go up, the steeper the better, for miles of heart pounding, muscle quivering, steep grade real Earth stair stepping (doesn't anybody else find the notion of using a stair stepper at the gym as bizarre, artificial silliness?). Want to use a stair stepper? Go outside and walk up hill. Tis cheaper, easier and it will get you the one place we never go anymore: Outside!
The Old Toll Road meets my aeobic needs. This is a single lane road that goes up for miles. It is the old carriage road (paved over) now deserted for the modernised highway 29.
This is one of my favorite walks in the Napa Valley. It is deserted. Filled with country estates...the nice thing is that the rich folks who own them, also own houses elsewhere. They are rarely lived in, almost never there, which means there is very little traffic on the single lane road. People who have lived on the Toll Road? Robert Redford. I've heard Madonna had a house here too.
And the views! The rocky Palisades on your right; the 4,000 foot Mount St. Helena on your left. And lonely. Fall colors! I even found a huge maple leaf.
Never hike alone in mountain lion country, they say. For most of us, to never hike alone means we would never hike. I'll take my chances!--and this year, the only mammal who actually did try to kill me was another homo sapian. I'm safer hiking alone than being at work.
So it was up the hill at a Seabiscuit pace for forty minutes. Then a turn around, admiring the views on the way back.