Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


finding our way independently to the West Point Inn atop Mount Tam

Hello Fellow Adventurers,

There is a very unique rustic inn, West Point Inn, only a few miles from the heart of San Francisco and yet you will feel miles away from civilization.

You will readily find it in the Seeing Eye GPS user POIs as well as on our other product databases, especially if you have downloaded the USA User points of interest. I was there some 7 years ago and recorded a few points at the inn. Others have added points on the trails and key points in that Mount Tam region.

Mike and Gena at the beginning of the hikeTo get to this historic inn, over 100 years old, you drive to the Pan Toll Ranger station above Mill Valley and walk 2 miles. It is not a particularly hard hike but there are some trails and fire roads that intersect the Stagecoach and old Railroad grade roads that lead to the inn.

The challenge for my wife Gena, also blind, and me, was to find our way on our own. I had the ranger station marked on my BrailleNote and the inn but not the route between. Our driver dropped us off, helped us find the right path and off we went with our two Seeing Eye dogs, Tank and Yulie. I hadn’t recorded a manual route last time I visited so we were mostly relying on the getting warmer method to our destination. The two roads did seem to be in the map database but I wasn’t sure how much to trust them since they are off the paved road grid.

There were several bikers flying down the mountain but nobody heading our direction. It was intimidating to hear them coming around a corner and then go flying by. I suppose we could have hollered to get someone to stop if we really got lost. On the other hand, if we weren’t on the main trail, there probably wouldn’t have been bikers riding by.

It was an amazingly beautiful late afternoon, out in the woods with nice smells, the sounds of birds and no traffic sounds. The temperature was in the low 70s. Impressive for November.

I have to admit I was apprehensive about finding our way. This tension was part of what made the short two mile hike feel more significant. Certainly the innkeeper who we called ahead of time was concerned and asked us to check with the ranger so they would know we were on the hill. Pleasantly, they did not try to talk us out of going on our own. One person did mention that two people died on the mountain this year, a not-so-subtle reminder not to be stupid.

The road did switch back and forth so I wondered a few times as our destination direction and distance moved around a bit. We came to a dead end at a few small buildings but nobody was around. We back-tracked and found a fork in the road we had missed. Tank is pretty good about finding the path of least resistance but this was a Y in the road where either leg was equal. We checked cell coverage every so often and we could occasionally get 1 out of 5 bars. I also had a two-way radio, which had the ability to go on emergency channels more because I like radios than because I thought we would need it.

We weren’t tracking the time but somewhere after an hour, we came upon the West Point Inn at 1,800 feet above sea level and exactly where my BrailleNote said it would be. The innkeeper David was quite happy to see us and proceeded to give us a tour including lots about the history of the inn. The founder was a survivor from the Titanic. He started it as an inn. It became an officer’s club in the 40s and then was saved by a local community group as an inn with a lodge of 7 rooms and 5 small cabins. We had the so-called honeymoon cabin. None have electricity. There is a gas stove and lamps in the lodge along with the lone shower.

Mike, Gena and Gena's daughter and daughter's boyfriendIt was really fun mingling with other guests as well as having our private time. We even met someone we knew through friends. I surprised Gena by having her daughter and boyfriend show up along with his parents. We all hung out and did more hiking the next morning. We came across this wonderful topical bronze model of the area at the East Peak visitor’s center complete with Braille labels. It was about 4 miles from there back down to the ranger station and our awaiting vehicle home.

Mike and Gena at the West Point Inn surrounded by forest tranquilityI now have manual routes/replay files for these hikes along with detailed points of interest like a gate across the road, a water tank and a bathroom. I highly recommend a visit to the inn. It is only $50 per night per person. You can book 3 months in advance and popular days book right away. I’d love to book it for a whole group of blind folks like we used to do with the WayFun trips Sendero organized from 2003-2009. The child-like feeling of accomplishment in navigating to this special place using the accessible GPS and mobility techniques is huge. I know many of you on this list have had similar revelations using your technology. As we say, “it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”


August 1997   January 1998   August 1999   December 1999   January 2000   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   March 2005   May 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   November 2005   May 2006   June 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   October 2008   January 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   March 2010   April 2010   July 2010   October 2010   December 2010   February 2011   May 2011   July 2011   September 2011   October 2011   November 2011   January 2012   February 2012   March 2012   April 2012   May 2012   July 2012   August 2012   October 2012   November 2012   December 2012   January 2013   March 2013   June 2013   July 2013   August 2013   September 2013   October 2013   November 2013   December 2013   January 2014   March 2014   April 2014   August 2014   September 2014   October 2014   November 2014   December 2014   February 2015   July 2015   August 2015   September 2015   November 2015   December 2015   January 2016   January 2017   September 2018   November 2018  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?