Memory Hikes Through Marin
“A Fairy-Land of Moon-Light”
By Calvin Roy Trampleasure
[circa March 1917]
It was a beautiful day in mid-September. We had been to the top of Twin Peaks in the morning, just by way of an appetizer for’ the trip we had planned for later in the day.
The air had been particularly clear and free from fog, so it was with great anticipation that we dropped from the train in Mill Valley late that afternoon.
We chose the easiest way as a starter, and climbing the steps back of the depot, followed along the smooth winding road that leads, always upward, to the big water tank. Here it becomes discouraged and dwindles to a trail, at first broad and open, then as it ascends more steeply, shut in narrowly by the thick-growing chaparral.
Reaching the rail-road we decided to hit the ties for a ways — cutting across the “bow-knot” and continuing to the main ridge. Here our real work began, as we left the track end started to climb. We climbed rapidly (at first) partly out of respect to the presence of a flock of mosquitoes that seemed desirous of making our acquaintance. Either they were drowned in the perspiration our haste induced, or were overcome by the altitude; at any rate we soon forgot then in contemplation of the rapidly changing scene around us.
Presently the sun sank behind the hills to the West, and as we reached the top of the ridge the lengthening shadows crept slowly across the marshes — the waters of the bay turned to a ruffled gray, having the appearance of a huge field of wind-roughened ice. Beyond, the Berkeley Hills showed through the deepening haze.
From the Tavern we hastened to the top, and arrived just as the sun, now turned a red-gold ball, touched the horizon. Here it paused for a moment, and then, like a disc of red parafine, seemed to melt from sight, merging sky and sea in a coppery-red glow. Gradually the light faded, and now our eyes turned Eastward.
Above the dim outlines of Mt. Diablo the almost-full moon was rising and spreading a path of silver across the bay. As we stood and watched, the hills lost their ruggedness, as though a giant hand had smoothed them and filled the hollows with a gray softness. The twilight deepened and changed to night — while in the little suburban towns at our feet, myriads of lights twinkled forth, till the country around seemed like a vast calm sea, reflecting the stars above.
Away to the East the lights of Vallejo shone brightly. The far shore-line of San Pablo bay was traced by the flickering headlight of an Ess-Pee train. The lights of Richmond stretched away in ordered lines — and so on through Berkeley, Oakland, and across the bay from the ferry to far down the beach — the long reach of Golden Gate Park standing out like a black patch in a sea of light. Seaward, the light on the Farallines flashed it’s warning, while along the horizon a faint glow still told the fare-well of the setting sun.
As the moon rose higher, the rocks and brown fields below loomed ghost-like, taking strange shapes and forms. And over all a warm North wind blew softly — while from the marshes rose the joyful frog-chorus, singing songs of praise to the beautiful night.
Save for voices that now and then came faintly from the Tavern below, we seemed alone in fairy-land – a fairy-land of moon-light. We were loth to leave, but the wind vial now freshening and growing cooler, so we began the home-ward trip.
Down the track we started, past the little spring-fed streams that sparkled and splashed noisily. As we reached the cut in the main ridge and swung to the south, we noticed, along the upper pipe-line, the occasional flash of an electric light, showing that at least a few besides ourselves were enjoying the wondrous beauty of the night. Reaching the pipe-line we walked slowly, now treading the open moon-lit trail, and now winding through a dense grove of redwoods, where hardly a moon-beam shone, and the air was heavy and warm with the absorbed heat of the day.
If you’ve never seen the old mountain or the country around it in the light of a full moon, you have missed seeing it in one of it’s most delightful moods. Try it during the next full moon and you’ll not be disappointed. At this writing the next chance will come on Saturday, April 7th.
Calvin. R. Trampleasure,
Calvin Roy Trampleasure was Bill Trampleasure’s father.