Between Sea and Sky

In the late days of summer, when cold upwellings from the Pacific feed the coastal fog machine, sun lovers know that sea level is not the place to be. If you want to turn those gray skies blue, you’ve got to climb for it.

First, do something counterintuitive — head toward where the fog is often the thickest: Mill Valley. Then take the turn at the 2 AM Club—the Deuce, as the locals say—and you’re on your way up. Go past the far reaches of Homestead Valley, crest the ridge cradling Muir Woods, glide onto the S-curves of the Panoramic Highway and, at Pantoll, follow the hard right toward the summit of Tam. Not that much farther, just as the fog-loving redwoods give way to the sun-seeking Douglas firs, you’ll break out of the cloud.

Find a grassy knoll—there are plenty available, especially on a weekday afternoon—pull over and soak in the sun. Below, a fluffy canopy of fog, tinted by the unbroken blue
above, hides the sea. All around, humps of hillsides, golden with drying grass, march upward and downward.

The wind, strong but warm, provides the only sound. Then, a hum, steady and growing, approaches. A wheel turning fast on asphalt. A sole rider. He passes swiftly, hunched low over his bike, and chicanes through the curves, moving down Marin’s magical mountain on a journey somewhere between sea and sky.

 “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud. Hey! You! Get off of my cloud.”
— Mick Jagger, Keith Richards