Saturday, February 24, 2007

The (Almost) Compleat Uvas Canyon - Mon Feb 19

Monday was a holiday for me.  I called Michael to see if he wanted to tag along, but he had to work.  Too bad for him.

Inspired by my efforts at Fremont Older on the previous Saturday, I decided on a somewhat ambitious plan to hike every inch of trail at Uvas Canyon County Park.  I sketched it out on the map and it looked to be about 12 miles.  Only one serious uphill, but that would prove to be the obstacle that prevented me from completing the task.

We (me and Raleigh, as usual) got to the park slightly after noon.  The entrance fee machine was out of order.  All I had was a $20 bill and I didn't want the county to make too much profit (the fee is $5; I mailed it in today).  So I filled out the receipt and stuck it to my window, hoping they wouldn't detect that there was no money in the drop box.  I don't think they did.

The first problem was finding a parking spot.  I wanted to park at the start of the Knib's Knob trail but the group camping area was gated off and there was nowhere to park in the camping area further along.  So I had to double back and park at what I thought was the beginning of the Alec Canyon trail.  The nice signboard had a "You Are Here" sign, pointing to someplace else.  In otherwords, it should have said "You Are Not Here."  I walked back up the road towards the entrance gate until I figured out that the sign was full of crap.

After a little ways, the Alec Canyon Trail switchbacks up a few hundred feet and tops the ridget at Manzanita Point.  Views across Uvas Canyon predominate; eventually you can see east back down into the Santa Clara valley.

After Manzanita Point the trail drops down some then you climb a little up Alec Creek's canyon until the trail ends in the vicinity of some kind of logging camp (according to the map and signs.  We doubled back and on the return went up a short trail to Triple Falls.  It's a typical Santa Cruz mountains waterfall.  More of a really steep rapids; but worth the walk.

Back to the trail, up the Manzanita point again, then we turned on the Contour Trail junction which is .5 miles from the start.  This is a great trail, matching its name.  It rises very gradually from about 1600' to 1800' over a course of 1.5 miles or so.  Nice woods the whole way.

When this trail reached Swanson Creek, we weren't sure where to go.  There were use trails upwhich we tried; those fizzled out.  Normally, you expect the trail to cross the creek when you reach it.  But here, the trail descended the same side of the creek for a couple hundred yards, then crossed it.  We saw a couple scrambling further down the bank; I thought maybe they had got waylaid at the same point coming up.

Just past here is marked the "Hothouse Site."  We went a little ways up on a use trail and saw a maze of pipes across the ground and pieces of broken glass.  I guess there used to be a greenhouse here.

A short ways further down is the main waterfall basin.  The waterfall loop trail/road lead here, and other trails branch off to Knobcone Point, Black Rock Falls, and another small waterfall (maybe Basin Falls?).  I went up all those trails.  The Knobcone Pt trail is steep, .4 miles and totally lame.  At the top is a buldozed clearing with a picnic table.  No views.

Black Rock Falls is nice; most picturesque of the whole lot, I'd say.

In order to cover all the trails, I had to descend the Waterfall Loop Trail a little ways, then come back up the Waterfall Loop Road.  I then doubled back and descended the trail .3 miles to where it met the road again.  I then climbed back up the road and immediately turned around and doubled back.

Just before the road met up with the Alec Canyon trail where we started, it intersects the Swanson Creek Trail.  There's a little triangle and I had to go around in a bit of a circle to cover all of the trails.  Finally we made our way down the Swanson Creek Trail to an "access" trail which led to the upper area of the park for the trail to Knib's Knob.

It was 4:15.  I wanted to be back to the car by 5:30 because they said they locked the gate at sunset (which was just before 6:00).  From the Knib's Knob trailhead to the summit is something like 2.5 miles (not counting the .2 mile turnoff to the knob itself).

I knew I wouldn't make it, but I decided to climb up to the bench on top of the ridge.  That was about 700' up and .4 miles or so.  After 30 minutes of steep climbing we were there.  Then booked down in 15 minutes.

Aside from the upper reaches of that trail, the only bit left was the Uvas Canyon trail to its junction with Swanson Creek and then the stretch of Swanson Creek trail back to the road where we had left it earlier.

The walk along the creeks wasnice.  At the junction was a narrow, very steep, rocky descent that Raleigh wasn't able to negotiate (or so I thought; he tends to get too much momentum and I was afraid he'd go right off the edge).  So instead we descended to Uvas Creek and walked up the creek, crossing and re-crossing, then hopped across Swanson Creek.

A quarter of a mile up the creek got us back to the road.  We ascended the trail a bit further (along a stretch we had already done), then turned onto the Waterfall Loop road to complete the last hundred yards until it met Alec Canyon Trail.

That was at a point just beyond the parking lot.  We arrived back at the car at 5:00.

The ride back along Uvas and McKee roads was nice.  Scenic green hills this time of year.  A big turkey ran across the road right in front of us at one point.  Wild turkeys are supposed to be smart but I think they're pretty clueless.  One time Raleigh and I walked right up to one that was so busy pecking at bugs or seeds that it didn't even see us till we were right on top of it.

The turkey in the road survived.

Hike totals: 10 miles, 2300' elevation gain.

2007 Totals: 76 miles; 17,200' elevation gain

Mt. Eden Loop - Sat Feb 24

Despite the drizzly weather, Malinda chased me and Raleigh out of the house for a short hike this afternoon.  We went to Mt. Eden Open Space Preserve.  Actually, I'm not really sure if it's a preserve in its own right or just part of Stevens Creek County Park or something.

Regardless, we parked at the top of the "pass" between the Mt. Eden "valley" (Saratoga foothills) and Stevens Canyon and started off downhill (to the left) from the parking lot.

Not many people hike here, and fewer go that way.  We followed the road (through a couple of real muddy spots).  Just past the deep gully/washout, we tried to go up a use trail through the chaparral.  It was steep going and the route fizzled out before meeting up with the horse trail up above.  So we doubled back to the trail.

Soon enough, you come to a small muddy corral.  There were a couple small horses and a pig (!) in it; they got a little agitated seeing Raleigh.  The road then goes up steeply through the oaks via a few switchbacks.  Views of the Saratoga hills appear, then further out into the valley to San Jose and beyond. 

The trail/road is kind of nice.  It's mostly covered with wood chips so it doesn't get muddy.

After you pass under the power lines, you're back into the preserve (prior to that you pass through private property marked with "permission to pass granted" signs).  The road is a gradual uphill till it ends at a vineyard (there's another vineyard if you take the road that branches off to the right at the top).

Nothing too interesting along the way.  We descended the standard route back to the parking lot.

Hike totals: 2 miles; 800' elevation gain

2007 totals: 78 miles; 18,000' elevation gain

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wandering around Fremont Older

After a weekend lost to rain, Raleigh and I went back out yesterday, Sat Feb 17.  We went to Fremont Older preserve and wandered around until it got dark.

First, I decided to not even try to get a parking spot in the main lot.  Having discovered the Parker Ranch road (see entry from last month), I figured I'd park somewhere along that trail and hike into Fremont Older from there.  I picked a spot on a cul-de-sac right next to a trail sign and set out.

This route goes through a bit of meadow and woods, then along a road that goes to a large green water tank.  The trail goes up the ridge from there to Fremont Older's extreme southern edge.

This is where the wandering started.  We took the Toyon Trail to the last intersection before it ends at the Hayfield Trail.  Veered left onto the Bay View Trail to the Coyote Ridge Trail.  Went right on that a short ways and climbed the little peak off the trail on the right.  Doubled back then went right on the Fern Trail.  Took that to the Vista Loop Trail.  Went right until it hit the Coyote Ridge Trail again, went left.  Climbed Maisie's Peak.  Continued a short ways beyond and then turned right on the Bay View Trail again (reverse direction from before).  Took the Bay View Trail to its end back to the edge of the preserve where we headed back down the Parker Ranch Trail.

No wildlife sightings of note (lots of rabbits, though).  A covey of quail exploded out of a tree along the side of the road and gave me a bit of a scare.  No deer!  There was a sign about a crazed coyote on the loose; maybe it was chasing off the deer, too.

Hike totals: 8 miles, 1000' elevation gain
2007 totals: 66 miles, 14,900' elevation gain

Super Stroll Sunday

Come Super Bowl Sunday, I quickly recovered from the WM hike at Pt. Reyes the day before and decided to head back to Monument Peak.  I had attempted to climb it a week earlier but sort of missed.

I figured everybody would be watching the game, but the parking lot was still full when I got there at 3:00 and I had to wait for somebody to leave.  We set out up our usual route (the more interesting Peak Meadow Trail to Horse Heaven Trail).

This time, it was clear on the top of the ridge and I knew where to go.  We turned right after passing through the fence that runs along the top between Mt. Allison and Mission Peak.  This little road gets fainter and eventually turns into a use trail which goes up a gully right up to the top of Mt. Allison.  It's kind of crowded up there with radio and tv towers, but one feels compelled to get to the highpoint regardless.

At this point I had to decide whether to push on to Monument Peak.  It's something like a mile and half between the peaks so I was looking at one hour minimum to get there and back.  It was 4:30 or so so I would likely be heading down in the dark.  But I had my headlamp and thought the darkness couldn't be as bad as the clouds the week before so I set off for Monument Peak.

It was a nice ramble across the ridgetop.  Great views down towards Sunol.  Nobody else up there.  I don't think many hikers head this way and it was too late for any sane ones.

The sun was setting when we reached the top of Monument Peak (just about the same height as Mt. Allison).  Nice views all around.  Then we headed back.  We (oh, "we" is me and Raleigh) took the regular road back towards Mission Peak.  On the way, we kind of went cross-country over Mt. Allison.

It was getting really dark as we went around Mt. Allison to the gate in the fence to start the real climb down.  The lights below were pretty bright and the sky almost black.

Once we reached the gate, it was plain nighttime so I got out my headlamp.  The next couple hundred feet of descent is cross-country here; I just kept heading down and bearing slightly right so I would eventually hit the Horse Heaven Trail, which we did soon enough.  It was an uneventful descent from there.  Didn't seem anybody on our route, but I could see lights on the main trail down from Mission Peak (bikes, I thought).

Next time, Iwant to do all three peaks in one trip.  It would only have required another mile or so of walking and would have been easier coming down the trail from Mission Pk.   I might try that on Mar 3 (when there's a full moon).  I should try to find somebody willing to tag along.

Hike totals: 8 miles, 3000' elevation gain.
2007 totals: 58 miles, 13,900' elevation gain

Waist Not, Want Not

W.A.I.S.T. Management got the new year off and running (well, walking) on Sat Feb 3.  Sorry I'm so tardy filing this report.

We hiked from the Palomarin Trailhead in Pt. Reyes National Seashore to Wildcat Camp (and the beach there), with stops along the way, Allamere Falls being the main one of note.

Hikers were: me, Michael, Jay, Anne, Maura, Gina, and Joan, plus David (who works with me) and his daughter.

It was quite the adventure.  First, we were late to the trailhead.  We spoke to Gina (who was with Joan in her car) and knew we had time to stop for coffee in Bolinas.  So we missed David and his daughter whe eventually left without us.  We met up with them later.

Gina and Joan didn't show for the longest time.  They missed the turn off Highway 1 to Bolinas (the signs get removed by reclusiva Bolinasoids, apparently).  We about missed it ourselves.  They arrived after we were a few hundred yards up the trail so we turned around to go back for them.

Once underway, we had a great hike.  Ran into David and his daughter a mile or so in.  They had gone 2+ miles or so and were headed out.  At least we got to say hello.

Smooth sailing all the way to the falls.  Getting down to them is quite the adventure.  Everybody got to the top of the last bluff before the final drop to the beach.  Michael, Jay, and I scrambled down that last bit as well.   We had lunch there.

We pressed on.  Michael and Jay bolted, never to be seen again (almost, we did see them on the way back from Wildcat Camp).  The rest of us followed the coast trail to Wildcamp Camp and down to the beach there.  It was getting late (around 3:30) and we headed back (taking the Ocean Lake Loop).

We were getting pretty tired at this point, Joan moreso.  The sun set as we headed back down the coast.  We got out the headlamps the last mile or so, and arrived back at the car at 6:30 (it got dark around 6:00).

Stopped for dinner in Olema and drove back Sir Francis Drake Blvd.  I got home in time for the 11:00 news.  Long day, but nice hike.

There was some political unrest regarding that point.  Some felt that we were scaring off potential hikers with such abuse.  There was also some grumbling about the group splittin up into fast vs. slow factions.  I think it was just the sore leg muscles talking.

We'll see how it goes this year.

Hike totals: 12 miles, 1500' elevation gain (maybe more, but it wasn't that much up and down).
2007 totals: 50 miles; 10,900' elevation gain