Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Early Sunday hike down into the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.

Most of the time a hike starts in a valley and leads upwards. This is one is different. You park at the top of Sierra Road and hike downwards. Of course the hard part comes later. I already hike the Boccardo Loop last year. Today, we hiked about 6 miles along the Sierra Vista trail, and the lower and upper Calaveras Fault trails.

(Note: go early, and you will avoid many of the mountain bikers sharing some of the same trails.)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pinnacles, CA

Earlier in the year, we made a backpacking/hiking trip to the Pinnacles. The trip was a practice run, leading up to our week long Lost Coast trip.

Unfortunately, we were not able to complete the planned route, as we had to add a bunch of miles from the visitor center to the trail head, as the park was overly crowded that day due to an event.

This time, it was a lot calmer in the park and we were able to do a wonderful hike. We started in Bear Gulch, hiked up to Condor Gulch, and made it back along the High Peaks trail to the Bear Gulch reservoir. We returned through the caves. All in all, 175 floors and 6-7 miles. (trails) (map)

Although we were well prepared, brought sufficient food and a decent amount of water, it was clear that we did not bring nearly enough water. One liter per hour is was is recommended in this heat in the park.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Animals of the Lost Coast

On our Lost Coast backpacking trip, we only feared one encounter: the bear. Bear canisters are mandatory.

Luckily we did not meet smokey, or his cousins. We did encounter lost of animals in the wild: seals, sea lions, sea otters, river otters, swallows, osprey, seagulls, pelicans, frogs, bats, turkey vultures, field mice, rabbits, jack rabbits, octopus, water snakes, a hermit river creature and 2 stranded whales, which we named Arturo and Guido.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome to the trowel club

One of the interesting experiences along the Lost Coast, is the requirement "to bury all human waste in the sand below the high tide line or 6-8" deep and at least 200 feet (approx. 70 paces) from streams when you are not near the ocean".

This is one of those unspoken aspects when hiking the trail, similar to the requirement to hike out your poo when hiking the High Sierras above the tree line.

With wonderful bean-rich and oat-rich meals, we all quickly became members of the famous Lost Coast Trowel Club.  

PS - Oh, and when you see sticks sticking up along the beach, do not go digging for gold.

Lost Coast

At the end of June, I loaded my 43 pounds backpack in the car and at 7am we headed with Santa Clara troop 14 from the Bay Area along highway 101 North; destination: The Lost Coast.

Our first day was pretty much a travel day: coffee break in Cottati, lunch in Willits, and snack stop in Garberville. At 4:15pm we arrived at the Mattole campground. However for some, day was far from over. After unloading our gear and setting up camp, the drivers headed South to park the cars at Shelter Cove, the end of the trail. We had arranged for one of the parents to shuttle them back to Mattole. At 8:30pm, just in time for the first sunset, was the entire Lost Coast Gang together in camp.

Over the next days, we ventured along the beautiful Lost Coast trail and camped out along the various creeks. Our first stop was Cooksie Creek. Oak creek was overly windy and we decided to push to Kinsey Creek. Our third night on the trail we stayed at Big Flat. Most of the time we set up our tent. Our final night we slept under the stars on the beach at Glitchwell Creek.

We came across incredible flora and founa: seals, sea lions, sea otters, river otters, swallows, osprey, seagulls, pelicans, frogs, bats, turkey vultures, field mice, rabbits, jack rabbits, water snakes, a hermit river creature and 2 stranded whales, which we named Arturo and Guido. Below is Guido the whale, beached only very recent. 

We shared fantastic food, from simple tuna and crackers to tortilla soup, noodles in tomato sauce, quinoa with chicken and nuts and a plum and crumbs desert.

(Fire permit required)

We were lucky with the weather and did not encounter a drop of rain. A little wind here and there. With a tide chart in hand, we didn't run into any issues with the ocean. Nobody took a dive on the boulders, or was injured along the way. 

As one our gang mentioned: "Hiking the Lost Coast, is like getting an enema for your lungs". This backpacking trip was a wonderful experience. I'll share a few more tidbits in future posts. Below are also references to useful information we used.

More pictures from the trip


Sunday, June 14, 2015

43 pounds

My pack for our week long hike along the Lost Coast in Northern California is ready. Almost everything fits: a few snacks will need a home in another bear canister. My pack weight comes in at 43lbs (excluding water). It is heavier than I expected. I can still shed some weight if I wanted: the solar charger and my backpacking chair.

Here's a quick run down of what's in my Osprey Aether 70  (size: small with medium size straps) pack:

  1. Bear can with two meals for seven. I borrowed the meal plan from Erik the Black's backpacking blog
  2. Marmot Pulsar 2 backpacking tent 
  3. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad
  4. Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag
  5. Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket
  6. 5.11 Patrol Rain pants
  7. Patagonia R1 jacket, Patagonia Nano Puff jackets, hat, gloves
  8. Sockets (3 + 4 liners), hiking underwear (2), short-sleeve polyester t-shirts (3), long sleeve Patagonia base layer (1), shorts
  9. Sunhat
  10. Large first aid kit, sunscreen, chapstick, bug spray, toiletries, camping towel
  11. Flashlight, paracord, survival granade, knife, duct tape 
  12. Water bottle, iodine
  13. Trowel and biodegradable toilet paper
  14. Jetboil gas canister (others bring a Jetboil stove), mess kit, cup
  15. Solar charging panel and battery
  16. Alite Design Mayfly chair
  17. Hiking poles
  18. Maps, tide charts, medical forms

Sunday, April 19, 2015


From National Monument, to now the newest National Park, the rock formations at the Pinnacles are beautiful.

We planned a training day trip, with 20-30 lbs backpacks, up the switch backs towards Condor Gulch and then back into the caves of Bear Gulch.

Originally the trip was planned for 5-6 miles, though we added a trip from the visitor center to Bear Gulch, as the parking lot there was full. There is a shuttle between both locations, though the wait can be long on popular hiking days.

Since there are several caves, do bring a headlamp. And plenty of water.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Almaden Quicksilver county park

Almaden, in South San Jose, was once the home of a large quicksilver mine. Named after the Spanish Almadén,  mercury was extracted out of cinnabar. It is still not safe to eat the fish from the ponds in this area due to the high mercury content.  Almaden Quicksilver County Park info