Alex On Mt Tamalpais

Alex emerged from the coolness of the wooded trail and stepped out into the blinding glare of the noonday sun. The yellow, desiccated grass of the mountain meadow shone in a brilliant similitude of the sun’s own luminance. The warmth soothed him despite his over-heated state brought on by his energetic hike on the mountain. Alex enjoyed these excursions on Mount Tam.

Each weekend he would take the Golden Gate Transit up to Marin City and there board a little jitney that went up and over the mountain, eventually terminating in Bolinas. Sometimes he would stay on board the little bus until it reached the little beach town. Other times, he would disembark somewhere up on the mountain, as he had this day, and walk down to the ocean.

Hiking on the mountain was almost a religious experience for Alex. This was in a time before his stroke, when his legs were strong and his body still retained a measure of the vibrancy he of his youth. Six to eight miles were nothing to him in those days. These hikes allowed him to maintain that vitality. Therein lay the religious aspect of these forays on the mountain.

Aside from the fact that these tours usually took place on Sundays, there was also the near cathedral aspect of the towering trees. They enveloped him in a tranquil mantle of cool stillness that comforted him in way not seen by Alex since his youth. He had exited that quietude and now stood in the glare of the sun looking down on the City far below him.

San Francisco was a town full of bustle, which pleased him. He enjoyed the pace of an urban metropolis. The grit and grime was a part of the milieu, a part of what attracted him to large metropolitan locales. This explained in part the liberating nature of these Sunday excursions. They allowed him a certain respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. They also allowed him to commune somewhat with the nature he had chosen to disavow.

Today, however, that denial was not in play. The city was far away. The sun was shining brightly and Alex was energetically moving along the trail down toward the shore. His moved swiftly and gained the coolness of the woods once more before descending rapidly down the switchback-laden path. Eventually he began to emerge from the mountain trail and found himself in the tourist-filled hamlet of Stinson Beach.

Alex was ambivalent about Stinson. On the one hand, it was adjacent to one of the most beautiful seashores he had ever known; on the other, it was rife with all the embellishments of an upscale tourist trap. The beach was a long uninterrupted strand of white sand, curving in a sparkling scimitar. This strip ended abruptly at the mouth of a large lagoon that circled behind Stinson. The strait leading to the mouth of this lagoon separated Stinson from the smaller village of Bolinas.

Bolinas and its adjacent beach were part of an eccentric community that held a particular attraction for Alex. The bohemian lifestyle and iconoclastic ways of its denizens were anathema to the inhabitants of the more affluent Stinson. This abhorrence was what drew Alex to Bolinas as opposed to Stinson. Each Fourth of July, the residents of both burgs held a tug-of-war across the aforementioned mouth of the lagoon pitting the hold over hippies from Bolinas against the perceived yuppies of Stinson for bragging rights during the ensuing summer season and the subsequent winter.

These incongruities meant little to Alex except as they pertained to his own enmity regarding the residents of Stinson and the resulting defamation of their idyllic seaside environs. This hostility extended to Alex’s feelings about the mountain, the sea and the corrosion of both to satisfy the ambitions of men or to sate the appetites of those wishing to hold dominion over them.

Religiosity was never the issue with Alex. He only wished somehow to hold on to that which was dear to him. He only wanted to retain the feeling he had up on the mountain and that which he experienced down along the seaboard. He knew these were the things that mattered in this world, despite his previously professed disavowal of them. His choices regarding his living situation may seem incongruously at odds with the way he chose his leisurely diversions but to assume this would be erroneous. Alex’s desire to commune with nature (as it were) was simply a manifestation of his inner impulses as respects his relationship with the world around him.

© Stephen Alexander 2008

Alex On Mt Tamalpais

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Another walk w/ Alex

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