Living in the Bay Area means that many opportunities for backcountry adventures are within an awkward driving distance. Yosemite and Tahoe are both less than four hours by car. So is Big Sur and the strange, untouched forests of the Lost Coast. Not to mention that the Southwest-like vistas, trails, and caves of the Pinnacles are also about three hours away. The volcanic wonderland of Lassen National Park is four hours. Same with Mt. Shasta. Anyway, I could go on.
All of those drives are *technically* doable for one day of stoke. Get up at 5 a.m. in San Francisco, drive to the Tahoe area, and I can be nordic skiing at 7,000 feet by 9 a.m. Ski all day, and I’m home for dinner. I’ve done that. Lots. Driving to Mt. Shasta to fly fish the world-class waters of [REDACTED] takes a good four hours. I’ve made that trip in time to catch the evening bug hatch, fish all evening, then get up at dawn the next morning to get home in time to work. That’s like eight hours of driving for two or three hours of fishing.
Don’t even get me started on wave chasing. Countless mornings of my life have seen three hours, easily, slip through the hourglass, driving back and forth between the same three surf spots trying to work up the motivation to get wet. On a good winter swell, I might drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, roughly 75 miles away, stopping at a dozen different nooks and crannies trying to find the best waves, only to surf for two hours then drive home another two hours. And be totally content.
There was a time when I once tried to institute a rule: one hour driving for every hour of fun-having. That did not last.
So, amigos and amigas, how far will you drive for one session of stoke? That means one surf session, one day of skiing, one magnificent day hike, one great paddle. A full day of driving for one day of fun? Two days of driving for one day?
Photo: Nuno Anunes