Feeds:
Posts
Comments

My mom and I did a camping trip in Humboldt Redwoods State Park last week, our first time in the redwoods of Northern California. We camped at Albee Creek campground for three nights and enjoyed the serenity of the forest. For my birthday I decided that I wanted to do a peak hike, Grasshopper Peak. I asked the ranger for directions to the main trailhead from the campground. She gladly pointed us in the direction and added that the hike is 3,000 ft. gain in about 7 miles in 80-90 degree weather. I knew beforehand what we would be signing up for. I thanked the ranger and we headed out of the campground. Once we reached the fire road off of Mattole Road the trails starts ascending. Luckily we had the shade of the trees to protect us from the sun.  After about an hour into our hike I noticed something moving sluggishly about 200- 250 ft. ahead of me. I turned around to my mother and said “I think that’s a bear.” She looked and confirmed. So she starts fishing into her backpack for her camera while I’m turning back around. I said, “Mom, let’s go back.” To which she replies, “No let’s continue on. The bear went down into the ravine.” I argued with her for a while but I couldn’t stop her and I didn’t want her to go on her own. So we marched forward making noises with our trekking poles. Of course my heart was beating so fast. I had never seen a bear on the trail before and I was scared for at least an hour afterwards. But then I stopped thinking about it and tried to enjoy that I was hiking on my birthday in the redwoods. The trail is not as visually appealing as the trails at lower elevation, but the area is dense with green trees which is quite different from southern California. It reminded me of my days in Bloomington, Indiana. It is a tough hike, but if you are interested in summit hikes then this is for you. We finally reached the peak around noon and had lunch at the top and enjoyed the views overlooking the redwoods.

View from the top

View from the top

Lunch with a view

Lunch with a view

On the trail

On the trail

After our break we returned to the campground.

Trees along Mattole Road

Trees along Mattole Road

I told the ranger that we saw a bear on the trail and she said that they normally don’t approach humans and that we were fine. In any event, I was glad to have returned safely to our campsite where drinks and a hearty dinner would be happily prepared.

Campsite

Campsite

I visited my sister in San Francisco over the Memorial Day weekend.  On Sunday she took me to her favorite trails in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Park entrance

Park entrance

We managed to find a parking spot near the Pantoll Ranger Station despite the amount of tourists (yes, I was one of them).  We started on the Coastal Fire Road and then hooked on to the Dipsea Trail.  It was sunny when we began our hike and a layer of fog was hugging the coastline.

Coastal fog

Coastal fog

My sister was disappointed that I didn’t get clear views of the city and coast, but I thought it was still quite beautiful.  Once we got onto the Dipsea Trail we were hiking in a thick forest of redwoods.

Moss on trees

Moss on trees

I was amazed!  Those trees are beautiful, and despite my sister’s 3.5 mph pace, I managed to keep up with her and take pictures!  Several trail runners passed us and I thought to myself that this would be a great place for them.

My sister calls these the "Pillars of Tam".

My sister calls these the “Pillars of Tam”.

Our descent on the trail had me wondering, what will the ascent be like?  We hooked onto the aptly named Steep Ravine Trail.  Thankfully the towering trees provided shade and cooler temperatures for me to keep up with my sister on our ascent back to the ranger station.

Redwoods

Redwoods

When we returned to the station, my sister and I took a short break and then decided to do a different trail.  We took the Alpine Trail to the TCC Trail which had less elevation gain and was a great way to cool down and have conversations without running out of breath.

On the TCC trail.

On the TCC trail.

End of our hike.

End of our hike.

Afterwards we decided that we needed to rehydrate and that beer was in order.  She took me to the Gestalt Haus in the quaint town of Fairfax.  It was a neat bar where we enjoyed drinks and sausages (vegan too) amongst mountain bikers who hung up their bikes inside the bar and caught up on rides with their friends.

Great biker bar!

Great biker bar!

Thanks to my sister for a magical day outdoors.

Crossed off!

Santiago Peak! I finally crossed it off my list of to-do hikes. I had wanted to do this since 2009, but for one reason or another I never got around to it. Finally, the Sierra Club of San Diego posted an outdoor outing and I quickly signed up as I knew it would fill up quickly, and it did. Santiago Peak is in the Santa Ana Mountains and it is the highest peak of Orange County. The 15 of us hikers met at 6:30 a.m. at a Park’n Ride and carpooled to the trailhead, which was about an hour and a half drive. I highly recommend high clearance vehicles as you have to drive 4.7 miles to the Holy Jim trailhead. The Volvo I was in took a while to navigate over the holes and big rocks on the path. It was overcast in the OC area, but once we reached the trailhead the sun was out and I knew we would be hiking under sunny clear skies while the rest of southern California would be blanketed with clouds. Once we had assembled our packs we hit the trail at around 8:50 a.m.

Morning at the trailhead.

Morning at the trailhead.

Hikers getting their gear ready.

Hikers getting their gear ready.

I stayed near the front of the group and the hiker who was leading was going at superfast speed up the steep inclines, but I was determined to stay with her. The leader warned us a head of time of black flies, but thankfully I didn’t need to wear my bug net. The terrain is mostly chaparral, but you will find oaks and sycamores when you hike through the deep canyons.

Hiking through chaparral.

Hiking through chaparral.

And once you get higher up in elevation you have beautiful views of the Santa Ana Mountains and can see San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Almost near the top.

Almost near the top.

Finally, we reached the summit after a long push. It is a difficult hike, but well worth it. We had lunch near one of the many electrical towers, rested, and located the summit register.

The view from the summit.

The view from the summit.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, there is a vehicle road to the top and you will find JEEPS, trucks, motorbikes and mountain bikers going up the dirt road. On the parts were hikers do have to take the vehicle dirt road, be wary of the drivers. Some are polite while others not so much. After our lunch break, we headed back down, which is so much easier and faster.

Returning to the trailhead.

Returning to the trailhead.

We arrived back to our cars a little after 4 p.m. According to my GPS we covered 16.7 miles with an elevation gain of 4,202 ft. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Several hikers decided to go to the biker bar afterwards for beers and burgers, but even though they did have a vegetarian burger on the menu, I opted out of it. Instead I enjoyed Silva Stout by Green Flash from the comfort of my home. I highly recommend that beer! Oh, and I recommend this hike as well.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday this year. I will be enjoying the green trails, Guinness, soda bread (no raisins or caraway seeds), and Irish cream and cheese, not necessarily in that order, but throughout the weekend. I hope you enjoy the weekend.

Last Saturday my friends and I decided to explore Black Mountain, which would be something new for the three of us. In San Diego County there are two Black Mountains, a small one in Rancho Penasquitos and then a bigger one near the town of Ramona. We read up about it in Jerry Schad’s book and there’s also an article in the San Diego Reader. At first, I was a little unenthusiastic about this hike since there aren’t that many great trails in Ramona, but I was wrong. Driving through Pamo Valley on the way to the trailhead was beautiful and with the recent rains, the meadows were beginning to turn green. If we get more rain, then we should have a really spectacular spring. It was cold by San Diego standards on Saturday, with a low of 23 and a high of 54 degrees, but at least the sun was out. The trail is basically a dirt fire road up to the summit. My GPS calculated 14.44 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 3,100 ft. The views of Lake Sutherland, Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, Toro Peak, the snow-dusted San Jacinto Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean really stood out on that clear winter day. I was glad to have hiked on a new trail for the second time in a row this year and I hope to do more of that.  If you are looking for something in the Ramona area, then I recommend tackling this mountain.

View east towards Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

View east towards Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

View of Lake Sutherland

View of Lake Sutherland

Another view of Lake Sutherland from the summit

Another view of Lake Sutherland from the summit

Pamo Valley

Pamo Valley

Engelman Oak

Engelmann Oak

To start out 2013 I continued my ritual of hiking on New Year’s Day (a tradition I picked up during my days with the Bloomington Hiking Club).  I had no idea where we would be going, but I was always curious about the Ramona Trail and Thomas Mountain whenever we drive past it on our way to Idyllwild. This time we decided to check it out. Over the last weekend southern California got a lot of rain so I was expecting some snow. Thankfully we didn’t need yak trax or snow shoes. My gosh, the trail was breathtaking! The views of the San Jacinto Mountains were amazing and the transition from manzanita trees to pine trees was beautiful. I really enjoyed this trail. Here are a few pictures from my first hike of 2013. Thank you 2012!

View of San Jacinto Peak

View of San Jacinto Peak

Snow covered trail

Snow covered trail

Manzanitas and pines

Manzanitas and pines

 

 

Coyote Mountain

Despite waking up with a hangover from having consumed too much of Karl Strauss’ Chocolate Peanut Butter porter the night before, I managed to get out of bed early to meet my Sierra Club friends for a hike in Anza Borrego State Park.  I tagged along to help scout a potential outing for the 2013 WBC car camp weekend.  Our destination was Coyote Mountain.  Temps forecasted for the desert were to be in the mid-70’s, which is fine with me, but my friends weren’t looking forward to that.  I packed plenty of water and electrolytes and as I put my daypack on at the trailhead, I thought, “Gosh, this is so much lighter than my backpack during the Grand Canyon trip!”  We began our ascent around 9 a.m. at Peg Leg Monument with me trudging along in the back as I was not feeling my A-game.

coyotemountain01

Start of the hike

But after an hour or so of climbing and sweating, I started to feel so much better.  Thus, the cure for a hangover, go take a hike!  The trail is well-marked in the beginning, but the last few miles up to the summit are not so well-marked so we did a lot of off-trail scrambling.  There are a few false summits before one reaches the summit marker.

Desert view

Desert view

Getting ready to sign the register!

Getting ready to sign the register!

We reached the top around 12:30 p.m., signed the register and then had lunch.  The views of the surrounding desert peaks, Villager and Rabbit peaks, were amazing.  I could even see sailboats on the Salton Sea.  It was so peaceful at the top that we really didn’t want to go back.  Since we did a lot of steep elevation gain, the return trip was rather scary, but thankfully I had my trekking poles.  I think we all ran out of energy the last few miles back to the trailhead since we joked about just spending the night on the trail.

Nearing the end

Nearing the end

We reached the parking lot around 4:00 p.m.  and noticed several RVers playing a game of bocce ball and yelled at us, “Welcome back!”  After having covered 11 miles with about 3,100 ft. gain, it was a relief to get out of our hiking boots.  We hopped into the car and drove back to San Diego under a glowing pink sky.   Overall, it was a nice exploratory hike.