By John Pavolotsky
Necessity is the mother of invention, or so the proverb goes.
I started hiking in earnest in May 2020, two months after the world, or at least the San Francisco area, came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. At that time, hiking was one of the few pandemic-friendly social activities besides sitting in a friend’s backyard six feet away from each other. As some may recall, in May 2020, San Francisco’s mandate extended to outdoor activities. We complied, somewhat begrudgingly, during our hike from Ocean Beach, at the end of Sloat Boulevard, to Mount Davidson, shrouded in fog, of course, and back, via a pitstop at El Toreador, on West Portal, for a steaming hot burrito on a characteristically cold San Francisco night.
About a year later, in June 2021, I formed the Peninsula Hiking Club. We had two hikers, including me, on that first hike, a seven-mile out-and-back to North Peak at Montara Mountain, just south of Pacifica. In November 2023, we hiked McNee Ranch at Montara Mountain. Twenty other hikers joined me on that one, as did four dogs. IP and other CLA Section members have joined me on these monthly hikes. Non-attorneys are welcomed as well, and depending on how you feel about attorneys generally, in some cases preferred.
Our last hike—to Mission Peak in early January—consisted of 14 hikers and one dog, who ended up pulling one of the hikers up the mountain (see part 3 below). On this hike, our collective legal expertise covered intellectual property, privacy, and employment law. You could talk shop or not. We did, somewhat, except during part 3, below, when no one spoke. Our non-lawyer hikers consisted of a few of my business school classmates, a neighbor of one of those classmates, someone I had met at a spin class at my local gym, a family friend from San Francisco, where I grew up, and his friend, and so on; in short, an eclectic and harmonious crew.
Most hikes are not terribly grueling and the next one, on February 10, 2024, to Fitzgerald Preserve, in Moss Beach, is downright mild.
For those interested, our Mission Peak hike consists of four parts: (1) Ohlone College Parking Lot K to the actual Mission Peak, via Peak Trail and Eagle Trail; (2) along the ridge (Peak Trail) before descending (via Peak Trail, Horse Heaven Trail, and Peak Meadow Trail) to the Stanford Avenue Parking Lot: (3) a relentless ascent up Hidden Valley Trail to the junction of Peak Trail and Eagle Trail; and (4) back down Peak Trail to Parking Lot K. The first part was quite pleasant; cool, quiet, not overly muddy. Part of our crew peeled back after the photo opp at the Peak. In retrospect, this was probably quite wise. The ridge was perfect. Sunny, almost warm, with the snow of the Sierra Nevadas to the east and the coastal mountains to the west. The descent is steep, and as it had rained the previous day, muddy. Hiking sticks helped. Hidden Valley Trail is always a beast, with a 40% grade. I might be exaggerating, but probably not that much. When we first hiked Mission Peak in 2022, this was the straw that almost broke the camel’s back. Two years later, I’d like to say that it was a little easier for me. For newbies (to ascending Hidden Valley Trail), this can be a shock to the system. An ice bath, which was actually the post-hike remedy of one of our hikers. The fourth part, the downhill hike back to the Ohlone College Parking Lot, was relatively easy, thankfully, as ultimately we were welcomed by flat ground and cold beverages. For our post-hike lunch, we visited La Cumbre (the Peak, of course) in San Mateo, home to the original Mission-style burrito. Mission accomplished, literally and figuratively.
Of course, hiking once a month does not put you on the path to wellness. In any given week, I may go on a small hike, play soccer, do boot camp, join a spin class, take a yoga class, etc. All of these are group activities, in part because it is easier to exercise, etc., if someone is motivating you to succeed, but also because wellness is not a solitary sport.
See you on the trail!
John Pavolotsky is chair of the Intellectual Property Law Section of California Lawyers Association and Of Counsel at Stoel Rives, LLP.