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Following the Ridgelines

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The Trail Companion

Winter 2000

Following the Ridgelines: Dinesh Desai Walks the Bay Area Ridge Trail

On May 15th, 1999, Trail Center and Bay Area Ridge Trail Council supporter Dinesh Desai and hiking partner Bob Cowell set off from the Presidio's Arguello Gate in San Francisco. Five weeks later, they arrived back at the Presidio after following the 220 miles of completed Ridge Trail sections and the gaps between them. The Hike for the Ridge Trail was the first organized walk to cover the entire proposed route entirely on foot. Dinesh had proposed the hike as way to raise public awareness of the Ridge Trail and to increase public support. He challenged the Ridge Trail Council to match a donation of $25,000 and they more than met the challenge with over $33,000 in donations.

Dinesh Desai and Bob Cowell begin their walk
Dinesh Desai (l) and Bob Cowell beginning the Hike for the Ridge Trail May 15, 1999
Photo used by permission of Dinesh Desai
     The pair walked a six day a week schedule as they walked north into Marin County, then through Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties, and south through the East Bay Hills before circling north again up the Santa Cruz Mountains and back to San Francisco on June 20th. In the gaps between completed sections, they crossed private lands with the owners' permission or walked public roadways-at no time did they cover any sections by vehicle. Since almost no campgrounds exist along the route, backpacking was out. Instead, volunteers hosted them each night, picking them up at the end of each day at an accessible trailhead and ferrying them back to the same point each morning.
     As the duo walked, other hikers joined them, some for a short distance, some for an entire county. Along the way, they saw hidden waterfalls, kayaked across the Carquinez Straits, narrowly avoided rattlesnakes and bulls, survived media attention, and saw a lot of unfamiliar Bay Area territory. They covered approximately 450 miles (an average of 14 miles per day) and climbed or descended approximately 45,000 feet.
     Dinesh has created a photo album and hike log for the Ridge Trail Council website. In addition to many nice photos, the site also describes the background to the hike.
     Dinesh and Bob's feat have helped bring the completed Ridge Trail closer to reality. Although half the distance remains to be bridged, the Ridge Trail Council and other organizations and agencies are working to fill in those pieces. The Trail Center supports the Council in their efforts and congratulates Dinesh and Bob on their successful walk.

     Note: Former Trail Center Executive Director Madeleine von Laue wore a second hat as she served as the South Bay Coordinator for the Council in the early 90s. During that time, we raised money for the Ridge Trail with the Ride for the Ridge--money which we have been unable to apply except in piecemeal fashion. such as sponsoring a Ridge Trail dedication at Mount Madonna County Park on Oct. 16. We will use the funds to construct a portion of the trail, although which section remains to be determined. If all goes well, we hope to work on the connection between the completed trail along Skyline Boulevard down to Lake Ranch in Skyline-Sanborn County Park.
     The Ridge Trail Council welcomes donations and memberships, as well as sponsoring a variety of opportunities for volunteers to help complete the Bay Area Ridge Trail, including trail construction and maintenance, letter-writing campaigns, and hikes and rides. You can contact the Council at:

Bay Area Ridge Trail Council
26 O'Farrell Street - Suite 400
San Francisco, California 94108
Phone: 415-391-9300
Fax: 415-391-2649

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