Friday, August 9, 2013

Ocean View Trail to Panoramic Highway, Muir Woods, CA

This hike was an end of summer journey with my daughter, Fiona. She had never been to Muir Woods and I hadn't been there since I was a child so this was a fresh experience for both of us.

Muir Woods itself is such a beautiful place. I ended up with a sore neck at the end of the day from all the craning up I did, looking at the massive redwoods and trying to get decent pictures for the blog.

Luckily we arrived early enough to get good parking. This lot fills up FAST, so if you want to get parking, arrive early (before 10:00AM), especially on Fridays and weekends. Parking is free and the admission fee for Muir Woods is only $7 for adults. Adults are anyone over the age of 15, so my daughter got in FREE! Woohoo!

I didn't really plan ahead and so, as we wandered into the heart of Muir Woods, we decided to take the first trailhead we came across which was the Ocean View trail. This proved to be a fairly steep trail but not very long (about 3 miles round trip, out and back). Most of the trail is covered in shade and it is a well worn but well maintained trail. I marveled at the shininess of the tree roots, worn from years of pedestrian traffic across them, that occasionally crossed our path.

When we emerged from the tree line at Panoramic Highway, we were winded and sweaty, but proud of our accomplishment as we looked out onto our view of the Pacific Ocean. It felt like a very good hike. I'm a little sad that Fiona has to go back to school, but I know we have lots of hikes together in our future. We had a good summer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mission Peak Trail, Fremont, CA

The journey to Fremont to hike Mission Peak is well worth the drive. Mission Peak Trail is primarily a nice, wide fire trail, with a slight scramble near the peak which tops out at 2,615 feet.

The final push...
Olma and I hiked this trail to the summit in about an hour and a half. It's a steady and, at times, steep climb. The trail is pretty much exposed to the sun at all times, so, on sunny days, make sure you apply the sunblock and bring adequate hydration.

Almost there.

It's also a good idea to bring some type of windbreaker or sweater as it can get a bit gusty and chilly at the summit. We stayed at the summit long enough to eat lunch (I believe it was Lara bars, blueberries, and bananas).

Hey look! A tree!
The view from the summit was impressive and this was on a day that was slightly cloudy in the Bay Area. I can't wait to see what it looks like on a clear day. 

We made it!
Wildlife in the area was predominantly of the bovine variety. There must be a cattle ranch nearby. We also spotted several squirrels and hawks.

After your day on Mission Peak, a good place to refuel is The Country Way Restaurant on nearby Mowry Way. Nothing fancy; just good diner food.

We're both looking forward to another hike on Mission Peak.

Perhaps the mountain grew 102 ft since this marker was placed?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rory Needs a New Pair of Boots

I've been thinking about getting a new pair of hiking boots for awhile now. I currently hike in my Hi Tec Cape Trail boots. They've served me well, and I've put a lot of miles on them, but I'm looking to upgrade to a sturdier boot with more waterproof qualities. The Capre Trails are a great lightweight hiking boot for warm weather, but they've left me wet a few times.

Hi Tec Cape Trail II

I picked a boot up off the shelf while shopping at REI last week, and was initially impressed with their construction and aggressive tread pattern. The boot I picked up was an Oboz Beartooth, and the salesperson in the shoe department mentioned to me that it was one of the store's better hiking boots. I thought, "At $200.00, they better be good."

That evening, at home, I did a Google search on the boots and came across an outstanding gear review site which I will share with all my readers here. Backpack Gear Test has been up and running for about 10 years and Rick Dreher, who reviewed the Oboz, has over 40 years of hiking experience under his belt. He gave the Beartooth boots a favorable review, so it looks like I'll be making an investment.

Oboz Beartooth

If any of you out there have any advice or tips in this area, please feel free to comment below. I would greatly appreciate it.

Happy hiking!                                                                                    3K3WV5U9MJR2

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mt. Whitney Lottery

Last night, Olma and I attended a presentation at REI on the subject of summiting Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada.

The couple who gave the presentation, Ronald and Joan Breuch, have summited Whitney (14,505 ft elev) on several occasions and have also successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiked to Machu Picchu.

The Breuch's inspired both Olma and I to apply for a permit to hike up Mt. Whitney this fall. I submitted our requests today through an online lottery system. With a lottery system, it looks as though there will be a lot of other hikers up there with us. We're both really looking forward to this next adventure.

I think we better start training.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Windy Hill, Portola Valley, CA

I enjoyed hiking this hill with my co-worker, Oscar. From the trailhead at the parking lot, we followed the Betsy Crowder Trail to its junction with the Spring Ridge Trail. We climbed this trail, which is wide enough to be considered a fire road, for about 1,200 feet in elevation gain to the summit of Windy Hill, just above Skyline Boulevard. It took us about an hour, which wasn't too bad. We were in no hurry (not true...I had a date with Olma for Mardi Gras that evening in Berkeley, so I kept telling Oscar to shake a leg).

While hiking, I spotted several red-tailed hawks. Oscar mentioned that the last time he had hiked up here, he ran across a newt and a flock of quail.

We brought good weather with us and from the summit, were able to see Stanford University and beyond, all the way out to the East Bay Hills, including Mount Diablo and Mission Peak. To the west, we gazed upon the rolling hills and valleys all the way out to the Pacific Ocean. Magnificent hike for views of the beautiful Bay Area we live in.

View to the south
A tree that caught my eye near the start of the trail
View of the East Bay hills
A bench to rest on near the summit
Another view of the East Bay from the summit
Survey marker at the summit of Windy Hill

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stuart Fork Trail to Morris Meadow and Emerald Lake, Trinity Alps, Ca

This was my second hike into the Trinity Alps, but this time I got to share the experience with Olma.

Olma at the trailhead, ready to go

We spent the night before in Weaverville, just as I did last year, but this time staying at the Weaverville Victorian Inn, as the 49er Gold Rush Motel had no vacancies available. The Victorian was a little more expensive, but it was a very comfortable room. This practice of getting in a good night's rest the night before a big hike seems to be a good plan.

We hiked in on Sunday, the day before Labor Day. Last year I hiked in on Labor Day and met droves of campers on their way out of the Alps. Seeing a large number of cars parked at the trailhead led me to believe that there would be a fairly sizable crowd at Morris Meadow this year.

We got off to an early start, which I knew would give us plenty of time to make the 10 mile trip to the meadow with plenty of spare time, if needed, to rest and recover on the way in. I was confident that Olma could do this as we had both recently converted to the Paleo Diet and had taken up bicycling for exercise. As a result, we had both lost a considerable amount of weight and I knew we were in good shape for this hike.

The weather was perfect; right around 80 degrees. Stuart Fork Trail is great in hot weather as it is about 90% shaded from the trailhead all the way up to the Morris Meadow and beyond. My sunglasses stayed put through the entire hike, right there on the loop attached to my backpack shoulder strap. We both did a great job of reminding each other to stay hydrated as it was pretty warm that day and we were working up a good sweat with the steady elevation gain.

Five hours later, we arrived at Morris Meadow, and I was happy to see that my favorite camping spot was not taken. It's a small enclosure tucked into a pocket of evergreens, with a stone fire ring and an opening with an amazing view of Morris Meadow and the granite mountains that surround the meadow...

Beautiful View of Morris Meadow

As soon as I had our camp site set up, with the tent in place and our food hung just out of bear reach in a nearby tree, I brought Olma down to the cold spring which would be our primary source of water for the next few days. But as hot as I felt after that hike to the meadow, it would first become my swimming hole.

We found a swimming hole!

Speaking of water sources, I'd like to pause here and point out what, in my humble opinion, is quite possibly the greatest invention ever for backpackers. That invention would be the SteriPEN. I purchased one prior to this trip because they happened to be on sale at REI when Olma and I went shopping for freeze dried food for our trip. The SteriPEN has been on my wishlist ever since I read about it in Backpacker Magazine, so I was pretty pumped to see that it was on sale the day we were in the store. Prior to purchasing this device, which uses UV rays to kill harmful bacteria in drinking water, I was using the standard water treatment tablets which take a while to decontaminate the water and which leave a funny taste in your drinking water. The SteriPEN provides you with clean drinking water in less than two minutes and is very simple to use. I can't recommend it highly enough. It served us very well on this trip and I loved the clean taste of that cool alpine water without having any chemical aftertaste.

Morris Meadow base camp

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ano Nuevo State Reserve, CA

After all these years, I finally got to see elephant seals up close. My trusty hiking partner Olma and I decided to spend the day checking out the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo before the season ends and they all return to the ocean. We had great weather for the hike; nice and sunny with a strong breeze. The ocean looked beautiful from the trail.

 Glamour Shot

When we arrived at the viewing point at the end of the trail, just a few miles from the trailhead at the parking lot, we could see several seals on the beach, basking in the warm California sunshine. A few of the young bulls were sparring with each other out in the water. We found out later, from our very knowledgeable and entertaining docent on site, that this was practice for the young males to prepare them for battle during next year's mating season.
Hey, look! A bench!

The volunteer out at the beach today was Alan Fleishman (sp?). I hope I got his name right because he really made our day at the Reserve a special one. He had several interesting stories and humorous facts about the seals as well as the history of the area.

Overall, it was a mild hike, not strenuous at all. You need to be very cautious of poison oak while hiking this trail as it is all over the place.