Bike Camping in Marin, Alone

September 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I went bike camping in Marin again, this time I did the trip alone. I found the same rocky beach as before and sat drinking a strong stout. The black water lapped against the rocks. It was slightly less foggy than last time, which only meant that you could see some things. A dozen feet out, a few seals popped their heads out of the water. They gazed at me curiously. I gazed back, feeling about the same. I thought about how differently special moments are received alone and with others. When there’s company, you might point, act excited, exclaim the wonders around you. But when you’re alone, you receive the potent gleam of every moment in reverent silence. The very world itself seems different because of how differently you receive it.

E.’s rock cairn had fallen down. I built a new one and headed back to camp.


A small cairn built on a beach in Marin.

Rocks + Man = Cairn.


I went ahead and bought a Martin Backpacker before this trip. This small travelling guitar isn’t exactly ideal for bike touring, but it’s close enough. The ideal instrument is probably a harmonica, and the only stringed instrument you’d really want to bring on a bike is a ukelele. The Backpacker straps onto my rear rack and hangs off the back. It probably looks a bit sketchy, but it’s worth the awkwardness to have something to play at camp. And anyway, cars tend to give you more clearance¬†when they think you’re unsafe.

The Backpacker sounds roughly like someone else playing a beautiful guitar and holding it up to the phone for you. Slightly better than six wet noodles and an empty cereal box, in terms of acoustics. And while the sound is lousy, holding the thing is even worse. But again, this is what you get when you want to play a guitar, but don’t want to bring a guitar with you. And it’s worth it to me, to have something to play.

While making my dinner, I scanned my headlamp casually across the campground and caught the eye of a small fox. He was a cute little guy and trotted around a bit before running off. A few minutes later, I was chomping on my food and glanced off to my right. A skunk, who I had not invited to dinner, was milling around several feet from my table. For the next hour or so, he sniffed and tumbled around.

After reading in my hammock for about an hour, I dozed off comfortably. Several hours later–let’s call it 4am–I awoke to a terrifying shriek. At first, being roused from sleep by the sound, it struck me as a woman’s scream. But as I became slightly more aware, I realized it was just a Banshee. You know, the mythological creature.

Actually, I spent some time on YouTube today watching horrifying videos that people had shot in the dark of their own campgrounds. They usually consist of about 2 minutes of a camera pointed towards the darkness, at nothing, and occasionally a blood-curdling wail. It was through these YouTube videos (YouTube is amazing), and the comments thereupon, that I learned that the awful sound I heard was nothing but an owl, or a fishercat, or a mountain lion. In fact, it sounded the most like a mountain lion. But don’t worry, they don’t attack humans who are just lying there asleep. Except when they do.

I woke up, drank coffee, and played a song or two before heading out. San Francisco is beautiful:

From Bicentennial Camp to San Francisco

It really is.