Saturday, July 7, 2018. After morning Mass at St. Eugene’s, a group of us headed towards the coast for a five and a half mile hike at Mt. Wittenburg, near Pt. Reyes. The long and winding drive was worth every minute. Carpooling itself is proving to be an excellent method of fostering community because it provides large chunks of time in cozy quarters with no occupation but conversation. In fact, it was so much the case on this trip that the accidental detours, and therefore added minutes, went unnoticed until arrival at our final destination. The conversation itself consisted of intense topics relevant to our Catholic faith, and therefore of great assistance and interest to all of us.
Upon arrival at the trail head, the weather proved sunny and balmy. With a slightly breezy 75 degrees, it was the most ideal hiking weather imaginable. We began our day with a brief prayer and reading from the Scriptures: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). The trail ascending the mountain was steep, but wound through the thick forest of towering trees and bright green underbrush that rang with the sound of birds. It was positively idyllic. The steep slope caused conversation to be punctuated with occasional gasps, but in no way prevented it. Of particular interest was the variation in the trees. One side of the summit was thickly forested with young trees and underbrush. As we followed a deer trail, we discovered an entirely different kind of forest on the opposite side of the slope. There the trees were old and venerable, covered with moss and towering above us like a cathedral.
For lunch, we stopped in a small clearing underneath the trees and continued our discussion, this time revolving around nutrition. After lunch, we prayed the rosary on our descent down the mountain, no doubt a witness to the many hikers with whom we shared the trail. As we came upon a clearing in the trees, the entire group came to a sudden and spontaneous halt to view the stunning ocean spread out before us. It was a beautiful sight and kept us arrested for many minutes. We only reluctantly continued our journey to the bottom of the mountain. After the rosary finished, our joy became expressed in songs from many genres, though we sadly knew few of the verses. Nevertheless, they accompanied us for the remainder of the hike until we reached the parking lot and concluded in a brief prayer. It was a beautiful day, filled with joy, conversation, friendship, community, good food, good weather, stunning nature, and prayer. Everything one could hope for.