The Great Thanksgiving Hike! Bringing Families Together

8:30am Sunrise on Dipsea Trail 1/2 Way Point

6:20am wake up call.

It’s pitch black outside in Northern California on a 45degree Thanksgiving morning.

No birds twittering. It’s too early! And our 3 kids agree. Groaning and moaning, we cajole them out of bed with promises of “a great hike!!!” And when that doesn’t work, a little Mommy Grizz gentle growling does the trick. We’re on a tight schedule.

6:57am we roll-up to the trailhead drop-off point at the base of the world renown Dipsea Hike. 7.1 miles of gorgeous, diverse terrain, including redwood groves and wide-open, coastal hills rolling above the Pacific. With segments sporting ominous names like: Cardiac Hill, Steep Ravine and the completely insulting Insult Hill just at the final mile, it’s a nail biter for the uninitiated...

It’s still completely dark out.

In the headlights of our big old car, I can make out 30 or so wide-awake hikers of all Thanksgiving family ages with huge, excited smiles on their faces. They’re gathering, amassing, waiting at the base of the trail for the last arrivals… Ready for the challenge!

7:03ish am – Blast off!!! 3rd, 4th, 5th and up graders lead the charge up the beginning of the 672 steps of stairs to start the hike off, as the rest of the more old-farty (that's us!) or possibly more-sane group follows.

9am half-way point. Younger kids and select moms & dads hike into the Dipsea from an easy ½ way point trail at Pantoll -- so we can join together to hike to the grand finale breakfast at the surfside town of Stinson Beach on the other side of the Marin Headlands. Snickers and Starbursts and other kid energy treats are dolled out ….AND a big group photo is taken – a fantastic hodge-podge of kids and adults in vibrant outdoor gear with the spectacular ocean behind us on a Ma Nature ordered blue-bird sky day.

By 10:30ish am the hikers riding sweep are the final ones to come in for a landing at Stinson: happy, tired, skin knee-d. High-fiving at the tremendous energy output and achievement on an early Thanksgiving morn. We are giddy.

11am we’re coffee-d, donut-ted, even Pop-tart-treated after milling around in the park chatting about our hike and the upcoming day. And we all head off to our respective showers, formal wear, and Thanksgiving feasts.

Wherever we live, we are thankful to friends like my friend LR, who organize adventures like these when we’re all so far away from our own families where we grew up. And so thankful for bringing us together as a team with an exciting goal for all ages – a giant family of outdoorsy folk enjoying Ma Nature at her finest.

Namaste & Three Cheers! -OM

Links to the Dipsea Trail: http://www.dipsea.org/course.html

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