I woke to overcast skies and decided it would be a good day to hike. With a hot cup of Roastaroma in hand, a quick Google search led me to several trails within an hour’s drive to Calistoga where I was currently house sitting.
I selected the closest one, a six-and-a-half mile trail system at the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park just south of town.
After paying eight dollars for a day use pass and another dollar for a trail map, I parked and embarked upward to 1,170 feet above sea level on the Coyote Creek Trail to get some views of the valley, Mount St. Helena and the Palisades. I climbed back down through a forest of towering redwood and Douglas fir trees on a trail running along the cascading Ritchey Creek. I didn’t see a soul.
I also selected this particular park because it, coincidently, was the summer home of the elite San Francisco Hitchcock family. As a young girl, Lillie Hitchcock (later, Coit) had run free and wild among the forests of her father’s country estate, aptly called “Lonely.”
With such indulgences, this turn-of-the-century socialite grew to become a scandalous feminist with an independent nature who often dressed in men’s clothes, rode horseback astride, smoked cigars, drank liquor and played poker to win at an exclusive all-male club. A woman after my own heart.
I first learned of her while visiting San Francisco last year. When she died in 1929, she had left the city one-third of her fortune, which they then used to build a memorial to the North Beach firefighters who had once saved her life. Thus Coit Tower is named in her honor.
Needless to say, believing in synchronicity as I do, once I learned that she grew up in that forest on the mountain, where to hike became a no-brainer.
I returned to lunch in Calistoga, a small town at the north end of Napa Valley. Originally a Victorian resort town known for mud baths, hot springs and a geyser, it’s now surrounded by vineyards.
I drove over to the north of town to see the infamous Old Faithful geyser spout off with a host of foreigners, including two vanloads of kilted Scotsmen.