Road zig zagging up to the top which is the high point at the upper left of the photo
Type of hike: Out and Back
Difficulty: 6 – Route is entirely on old road, but steep in places
Trail grade: A bit of a climb at first followed by about a 700 foot decent down to where the Baldwin Trail joins the Woods Trail. After crossing Rincon Creek and Guadalupe Creek, the trail climbs from about 1700 feet to 3000 feet at the top of El Sombroso.
Trail use: A few people… more when we joined up with Woods Trail
Highest elevation: ~3,008 at top of El Sombroso. We parked at 2,328′.
Total climbing: 2,603′ but that included climbing a hundred feet or so to get up Bald Mountain.
Round trip distance: 12.1 miles including 1.4 miles round trip to Bald Mountain
How long: About 4 hrs 30 minutes
Quality of views: Pretty awesome… gotta be at least a 9. The top of El Sombroso was disappointing though. Hard to see anything because of all the brush. But there were places where there were views of the entire Bay Area … and then there are almost constant views of Mt. Umunhum.
Weather conditions when we did it: Sunny, 70 degrees-ish, mostly clear ‘cept for some haze
Water: None – bring what you need. There are a couple creek crossings so I guess you could pump and filter if you wanted
Restrooms: At parking lot. Restroom was wonderfully clean
Parking: In a lovely parking lot off Mt. Umunhum Road
How to get there: Starting at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 85, go south on 85 for about 2.5 miles and exit onto Camden Avenue and turn south (towards the mountains). Go down Camden for about 2 miles and then turn right on Hicks Rd. Follow Hicks Rd for about 7 miles, passing Guadalupe Reservoir, and up a large hill until you reach the Hicks and Mt Umunhum intersection. Continue driving about 1.3 miles until a gate bars any more vehicular access up the road. Park here.
This was an outing with Donna’s hiking group. This included Joan, Anita, Judy, Tai, and Chris. We all piled into the van for the trip to the trail head.
From the parking lot at the trailhead we decided to knock out Bald Mountain first so with lively legs we went the 0.7 miles over to the view point. From there we had a lovely view of Guadalupe and Almaden Reservoirs.
Top of Bald Mountain
After this short warm up, it was time to get started.
This hike was a bit different from most of the hikes we’ve done in that it was entirely on road. So for the most part we just walked and talked our way to the top of El Sombrosa. There was quite a bit of walking though… so lotsa time for talking. However, besides being long, the road was steep in places. And of course all the heavy breathing had an impact on a the talking.
Joan and Anita
Chris, Donna, Anita and Joan
Road zig zagging up to the top which is the high point at the upper left of the photo
Anyway, we eventually arrived at the top. Kinda weird top though. Power lines ran right over the peak. That and the fact that we had never left the road took some of the adventure out of the outing. But the views were stunning. And we were in good company.
View from near the top
We stopped for lunch at a road intersection near the top…. Checked out the views for a while… And then headed back the way we came. On our way down, since we were now facing that way, it was very noticeable that we could see the van off in the distance, parked at the Bald Mountain parking lot.
And all the while the cube at the top of Mt. Umunhum sat brooding above us. The trail basically wraps around the eastern side of Mt. Umunhum so the cube was almost always visible.
Okay… I admit it… I’ve been kinda slackin’ with respect to keeping this blog up to date. Been silence on the line for awhile… and before that there’s been a lot of Donna’s and my hiking posts… so not much variety unless you’re into the hiking scene. Not saying that’s gonna end. My next post will be about an outing that we did recently. But that’s not all that’s been happening here at Casa Fogelquist. So I’m gonna try and be better about posting more family stuff.
Just a few of the recent highlights from home:
Spencer and I got our crops in. So this year there are the usual tomato plants, plus a buncha peppers. I’ve never done peppers before so this is gonna be a bit of an adventure. We put in 13 tomato plants… Yeah… that’s quite a few tomatoes huh? But now that I have a clue how to can, I guess I’m gonna be a canning maniac this year. So we should be able to absorb the volume.
I started a photo site using Smug Mug. So from now on that’s where I’m going to put the photos that normally accompany these posts. Of course I’ll put a few photos in the blog but the majority will go to Smug Mug.The address is: http://www.fogfam.smugmug.com
Just go to the link and cast around a bit. The photo site is stand alone so now you can just go directly to Smug Mug and look at the pictures without having to wade through the blog. Only issue is that, now that we have a place to easily post pictures, I won’t be as selective about what pictures I post. So you’ll no doubt have to slog through a few extras. Other than that though, it’s all good.
We have joined a CSA… What the Hell is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is where you buy a share of a farm’s produce and your share is delivered to a pickup location each week. Then you just go pick it up. So in effect we’re getting our produce directly from the farm. This helps flatten the food supply chain which is good for lots of reasons. Our farm is the Live Earth Farm in Watsonville. Go to the link if you wanna read about it. This is in addition to our massive tomato (and now pepper) supply. I know I know… what are you people doing? Good Lord! Why don’t you just get your food from the grocery store like everybody else? Well… this is way too big a topic for here, or even another entire post. Besides I probably wouldn’t be able to stop it from coming off as preachy, so you wouldn’t read it anyway. But if you’re interested (and I hope you are), here’s a book that can start you on your way… Read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. He has a number of other books too. You can pretty much read any of them to get the idea. The concept isn’t new though. It’s just that Michael Pollan’s approach was compelling to us. He’s not preachy, or judgmental. He’s matter of fact, well reasoned and well researched. And his style is refreshing. Finally, in our particular case, getting produce mostly from this CSA is more practical than going to the grocery store. Essentially, it’s almost directly delivered to us. So it all works out.
A few weeks ago, I got myself an eBike… That’s an Electric Bike if you’re unfamiliar with the term. This also could be (and will definitely be) the topic for another post… (or several posts actually). But for now, in a nut shell, I’ll just say that I think this is one of the best purchases that I’ve ever made, in my entire life. It is SO much fun… and practical… and great exercise. I just zip by the traffic in Santa Cruz and much of the time, especially with the Santa Cruz area traffic problems, arrive at my destination more quickly than I would by car. But more about this later.
The boys are done with school for the 2015-16 school year. Kinda fun having them home again. Spencer has been gardening, ref’ing, and coaching while Jack is working and riding his bike again. Kinda fun seeing the school tension relax off their faces.
A couple weeks ago, I bought a bunch of strawberries and made strawberry jam for the first time. And… it was almost a disaster. It didn’t set up the way it should and was WAY too sweet. Jack is the only one helping me to eat it. I guess I’ll make some adjustments and try again later. It does taste good though… so at least I have that going for me. Next time I’ll use a different pectin, not mash up the strawberries as much and add less sugar. But first I gotta down the jam (syrup) from this batch. Oh… one REALLY good thing… Donna used it to make strawberry ice cream. Not gonna lie, it was unbelievably good. I couldn’t stop myself from going back to the refrigerator to get some more.
We got to host Chris Bauer (One of Donna’s many nephews) for a quick tour of San Francisco.
Chris was here in the Bay Area for a conference. And we were able to steal him away for a quick run through San Francisco and then dinner at the Cliff House Bistro. Was fun for me to get to hang with him a bit and get to know him a little better.
Okay… This was just a quick catch up. There’s more of course but that’s probably enough for this post.
Type of hike: Out and back Difficulty: 5 Trail grade: 9 Trail use: Extremely crowded! Highest elevation: ~570′ Total climbing: 2000′ Round trip distance: 11.5 miles but this includes side trips How long: About 8 hours but that also included side trips, and lunch Quality of views: 8+
Weather conditions when we did it: Clear and warmish Red tape: None Maps we used: Mostly Tom Harrison and the Hiking Marin book Water: None – bring all that you need Restrooms: Outhouses in parking lot but no water Parking: Yes – however VERY crowded – go early to get parking in the lot otherwise parking is alongside road with the additional hiking required to get to and from your car.
How to get there: From Santa Cruz, take 17 to 85 then 85 to 280… and finally 280 to San Francisco. Proceed through the city however you like to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross the bridge and a mile or so after the Rainbow Tunnel, exit 101 onto Highway 1 where it exits at the bottom of the hill. Take Highway 1 for what seems like forever on a hyper curvy road to Stinson Beach. And then go another 4.5 miles beyond Stinson and take a left onto the possibly unmarked turnoff into Bolinas. Continue 1.7 miles and then turn right onto Mesa Road. Follow Mesa Road all the way to where it ends at the Palomarin Trailhead. The road turns to gravel at some point. Beware of super huge potholes. Oh and special note… when we were leaving for the day, we saw that cars were parked all the way out from the parking lot, along the road to just about where the road turned to gravel! Maybe a mile… If you ended up parking there, this would add significantly to your hike… so GO EARLY. We arrived at the parking lot at 9:30 AM and the main lot near the bathrooms was already full. I guess from there, cars just kept parking along the road as they arrived.
It’s almost exactly 4 miles from the Palomarin parking lot to the trail branching off that goes to Alamere Falls… Then this trail goes toward the beach for about a half mile or so before you arrive at the falls… that means that if you’re just going to the falls then this is about a nine mile day round trip… plus whatever you end up hiking to get to and from your car.
However… the mileage on our junket was longer… first we kinda overshot our exit off the main trail (“Coast Trail”) to the beach and the falls and didn’t figure it out until we had gone an additional half mile or so extra. And then besides going to the falls, we also included an excursion up to Double Point. This turned out to be my favorite part of the trip but it did add to our total mileage. So by our GPSs, our final mileage was about 11.5 miles round trip. A good 2.5 miles further than you would go if you did everything right.
Now then… I just can’t go any further without carrying on a bit about how crowded it was. When Donna and I hike, we mostly go to places where there aren’t many people. Not by design necessarily, it just kinda happens that way. And, not gonna lie, I guess I kinda prefer it that way too. But it’s never been much of an issue. But from that you can imagine my shock when upon arriving at the parking lot, at what I thought was pretty damn early (we left our house in Scotts Valley around seven and arrived at the Palomarin trailhead parking lot at 9:30 or so), the lot was already completely full?! We ended up among the last people to get to park in the lot. After that folks were being directed to park along the road. An already harried National Park Service employee indicated a spot for us to leave the mini-van. She was very friendly but didn’t have a lot of time to chit chat. Turns out that we were among the lucky ones. When we drove out that night, cars were parked on the side of the road all the way to where the gravel road ended… that must have been at least a mile. That’s adding another two miles (round trip) to the hike for the folks who had to park out there. Anyway… I’m getting carried away about the parking… So to cut to the chase… GO EARLY!
All day we were buffeted by this mass of humanity. It was UNBELIEVABLE! I was stricken. I guess it kinda makes sense though… I mean we’re less than an hour of drive time from San Francisco, on a lovely day… and the falls are kind of a phenomenal natural feature. But the teeming hordes was a bit of a shock to my fragile little system… took me awhile to adjust, get my legs under me and figure out how to enjoy the day. So the moral of the story is… like I said… GO EARLY!
Okay… I’ll quit carrying on about the crowds… on to the reason all those people were there…
It’s just an absolutely AWESOME place to be… simple as that. From the parking lot, after passing through a grove of some seriously fragrant eucalyptus trees, the trail starts off roughly paralleling the ocean. So fairly quickly you get views of The Farallons off on the horizon. I’m always pleased when I get to see these islands, because conditions don’t often permit it. But there they were…
After say a mile or so, the trail turns abruptly inland and begins to gain some elevation reaching around 570 feet. This is the highest we got including our climb up to Double Point.
The trail is mostly under tree cover. Which was welcome because you’re climbing. It’s so lush in places… the greens almost hurt to look at.
After awhile we started passing some small coastal lakes, followed by the larger Bass Lake…
And then Pelican Lake…
This is where the wheels started wobbling… Somewhere amongst the mass of people was this seriously graffitied sign that identified the trail to Alamere Falls…
So we missed it… and instead of stopping and turning down this trail to Alamere Falls, we kept rolling down the Coast Trail until we came to a fork in the trail… Ocean Lake Loop goes left and the trail to Wildcat right… Hmmmm… we didn’t expect this fork. It was then that we remembered a clump of people about a half mile back that was probably the Alamere Falls exit that we were looking for… We (well actually ‘I’) thought, what the Hell, we’ll just go down this Ocean Lake Loop trail, maybe find a way to the beach and walk back along the beach to the falls. Well, I guess that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. Our access to the beach was blocked by this cliff down to the beach that just seemed to sketchy to negotiate… Eventually we turned around and made our way back to the actual trail. Sigh… I don’t think I was doing very well in the popularity polls at that point.
Finally we arrived back at the trail down to Alamere Falls. Of course the trail was crowded and weaved it’s way down to the beach through masses of bushes, vines and way too much poison oak. We’re so screwed… I hate getting poison oak and now we’ve all got it for sure. Eventually we came out to the overlook above the falls… we made it!… we were here! Hmmm… we still had to get down to the falls though. Seems like that part would be trivial… but here was the same kind of cliff we had already encountered further down the trail. There WAS a trail though. But it was still gonna be an ordeal to get down there.
Just to orient you… There are three levels: the level that we had just come out onto, then there’s the next level down to where the pools were, and then down to the beach level where the big falls came down. These levels were connected by steep gullies that the mass of hikers would descend through. Each one was narrow, allowing only one hiker through at a time. So sometimes a bit of negotiation was required.
However, once you’re down on the beach, it’s pretty cool. And here we were at the famous falls…
We hung out on the beach for a while… it was a gorgeous day, there was lots to look at, but it was a complete circus… there were folks rappelling and then rock climbing back up the falls, there were women doing their mysterious duck faces (does anyone know what that’s all about?) while standing under the falls with their over indulgent boyfriends taking pictures of them, there was a drone flying around, kids playing in the creek, guys doing yoga on the beach (really?!)… but mostly there were folks … lots and lotsa folks just standing around doing what we were doing, i.e. taking photos and looking at the falls… it was difficult to tear ourselves away from all this.
However, we still had a lot of hiking to do before headin’ home so better not dilly dally too long… time to get a move on….
However, when we turned to move toward the crevice in the cliff, that’s when we saw what we had to do to get back up off the beach… besides climbing back up the cliff, there was actually a line… a long line… to climb up to the next level. Seriously!? This was getting to be a bit like Disneyland. I wondered where the ‘2 hours to go’ sign was.
As we moved forward in the line, we had a lot of time to watch the process. It was pretty cool how it was working out. Imagine a one lane road. Only cars going one direction can proceed at a given time. Then the flow mysteriously reverses and cars start going the other way. But in this case there was no sign guy. There was only our senses of fair play that governed. So here folks would make their way down, then some negotiation would take place and the flow would switch to allow people going up. This would go on for a while then more negotiations… the flow would then switch to go the opposite way. It was amazing to see this ad hoc ‘system’ actually work. Donald Trump notwithstanding, who says that we in the United States are a bunch of selfish, boneheads? My faith in humanity got a big shot in the arm as I watched this. Finally, I had to break away from being fascinated though… It was our turn. Must focus or risk embarrassing myself…
Turns out that I’m pretty reasonable I guess… When Jack and I got to the point where the line turned right in the picture above, we stopped and left a gap so the folks going down could get down… they had been waiting pretty long… and the flow reversed. Aren’t we just the nicest guys?
Eventually we made it through the labyrinth to the overlook above the falls (top level), and back through the tunnel of poison oak to the main trail. Next stop… Double Point.
Double Point is an overlook about 500 feet above the ocean. We never did decide what the name ‘Double Point’ referred to. Was it the point we were climbing? Or was it the one further south?Was it both? Or was it the cove in between? No idea… But getting up there was a bit of an adventure… The start of the trail was about 100 (or maybe 150) feet back (south… toward the parking lot) along the Coast Trail. The opening to the trail is pretty easy to find… but the trail itself is something else. Right away we (‘I’) lost sight of it (such as it was). The trail was there. It just wasn’t easy to distinguish from the other animal trails and channels through the bushes. So we just made our way as best we could. We found the trail again later but only after some serious scrambling through the bushes and poison oak. Somehow everyone in our little group was able to remain polite to me even though I’m sure they weren’t too happy about the bush whacking. I was expecting a mutiny at every step. But everyone seemed as stoked as I was so I kept on. The scramble up to the top of Double Point was wonderful in one aspect though because we were finally away from mass of humanity that had surrounded us all day. A welcome respite… And because of that (and the views) it really was my favorite part of this whole junket.
After some determined scrambling…
These flowers are called ‘Foot Steps of Spring’. They are among the very first flowers of spring to bloom
This travel was easy compared to what we had just been through
Jack and Kalika
…we ended up at the top. And the views were astounding… Better than I imagined them to be. The Farallon Islands, the end of Point Reyes, the beach below, the cove below us next to Double Point… Photos are better than words… so I included a few of them here. I have lots more.
Tip of Point Reyes… there’s a light house at the end
Beach looking north
The cove next to Double Point
Close up of the end of Point Reyes
Telephoto of the Farallons
Looking in the direction of the sun with the Farallons in the distance
Pelican Lake from Double Point
Looking south toward San Francisco and Pacifica
None of us wanted to leave… but after a while, it was time… we still had a long way to go to get home… four miles of hiking then at least three hours of driving through Sunday night traffic… oy! Better get a move on.
Headin’ down the bluff
Trail junction to Double Point
Double Point as we walked away
Pelican Lake only this time from the other side
An hour and half of pretty fast hiking brought us back to the parking lot… which now was relatively empty.
I had been kicking myself all day for not taking a photo of the parking lot when we first got there in the morning…. I thought the full parking lot early in the day was crazy for this outing… but that was before I saw that there were cars parked along the side of the road for something like a mile from the trailhead. Absolutely nuts… but I guess, considering how near this wonder was to the San Francisco metropolitan area, to be expected. Clearly, this destination is not for those who are troubled with crowds.
Another thing that I found to be pretty amazing was that here I am, a Bay Area dweller of more than 30 years (hmmmm…. make that 34 years), and I had never heard of Alamere Falls?! Meanwhile it’s this huge attraction with easily more than a thousand people visiting it on some random Saturday in February?! It’s been here all along and I just never knew it. And I call myself a local?! All I can say is WOW! What else am I overlooking?
Well now that it’s Fall… it’s harvest time here at the Fogelquist household. And part of harvest season for me this year, is the new canning operation.
No idea why but this year I had an absolute bumper crop of tomatoes. I took at least 118 lbs. of fruit off of eight plants… after I started counting.
But what was I gonna do with all these tomatoes?! Last year, when the tomato eating got behind the tomato production, I tried making tomato chips with our dehydrator… But that was kind of a bust. The idea sounded good and I made a pretty fair amount. But I was the only one who ate them… they’re really not like potato chips like I thought they would be… that is you can’t eat very many before you’re kinda puckered up. How ’bout canning? I had never canned before. Seemed kinda scary. Only saw my mother do it back when I was a little kid. She would mostly can strawberry jam after we came back from a berry picking expedition… and it always seemed like a major production. The jam was awesome though. So I never wanted to discourage her from doing this. Her strawberry jam was a wonderful childhood memory and still hasn’t been beaten by the store-bought varieties. But I had no idea how she did it. These tomatoes were totally out of control though. I just had to do something in self-defense.
My early attempts at canning were in the kitchen. There I was, the “Canning for Dummies” book in one hand and all this canning crap in the other. Donna would come zipping by on one mission or another; see me all sweaty and frantic… then say something scary like, “I used to see MY mom do that and decided that it wasn’t something I would ever want to do”, then she’d dash off. Donna is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen so having her throw her hands up was kinda scary. What was I getting myself into? Oy! And after the first experimental batch of salsa (a raging success I might add), I saw that any past mess that I had ever made in the kitchen absolutely paled in comparison to what I had on my hands right now. There was fruit stickiness all over the floor, all over the cabinets and all over the stove… the dirty pots and pans piled up everywhere… and that’s not to mention all the heat in the house during the hot time of the year… and I was tying up the kitchen for hours. It became clear that I wasn’t gonna win any popularity contests here at home with this new canning program. OH! and then there was the endless cleanup afterward. Donna has X-ray vision for mess in the kitchen and I had no idea how I was gonna get it from the disaster area it had become, to something that might come close to passing her scrutiny.
Oh and one other thing I learned… the kitchen burners were completely inadequate for heating all those large volumes of water. One batch of tomatoes would take pretty much all day to process, and it consumed I don’t know how much electricity. This whole canning idea was not going well at all.
Not sure how it happened, but outta nowhere, I got this idea… Asked the question, How do the beer makers do it? They have to heat large volumes of water routinely. There MUST be some kind of propane burner available. I checked it out on Amazon… turns out that not only do these exist, but they’re plentiful. There are lots of different types and sizes… AND… they’re not expensive. So I shopped a little and then pressed the “Buy now with 1-click” button for my selection…. and two days later, the box arrived. After that… I was able to take the whole operation outside… and as a result, my canning life turned completely upside down. Canning actually became almost, well kinda, …sorta fun. Well if not “fun” then at least not like a root canal.
And I can do large volumes… quickly… and cleanup consists of hosing the table and patio area down… then hose out the pots and bowls… oh and the new burner heats large volumes of water within minutes… Yesterday, I canned 46 lbs of tomatoes and four pounds of beans into 52 pints of Ball Jars… all using the pressure canning method. Yes… not gonna lie, it took me most of the day to do this… and I was kinda tired when I was done. But cleanup wasn’t what took up most of the time. And… it was pleasant working outside instead of in a hot kitchen. And no one was mad at me.
SO… if you’re a canner… and you currently do it in your kitchen… think about moving the program outdoors. Not sure if I will ever can indoors again.
Next… Orange Marmalade… made just the way I like it.
Donna’s birthday is always on 4/13 and it wasn’t any different this year. The thing that’s different is that we’re all runnin’ around doin’ stuff so it was hard gettin’ all together on a weeknight. HOWEVER, we lucked out. Jack’s class that normally gets out after 10PM on Mondays finished early and so Jack came home…. and bonus… he came home bearing an especially fun present from his… not Facebook official…. girlfriend, Kalika.
She made a stunning cake for the occasion. Now then when we first saw it it looked like just a normal (and now a little lopsided, thanks to all the handling it took to get it to our house) cake. BUT… when we cut into it… SURPRISE! … Absolutely unbelievable… my first thought of course was that she stacked all these little cubes into a cylinder… but that was probably not right. After that it was fun trying to figure out how she did it.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun and pretty much stole the show. That’s okay cuz all our gifts were a little on the weak side anyway.
Thank you Kalika… Yer the best!
Donna’s surprise cake!
Blowin’ out the candles
OMG! Our surprise… never seen anything like this before
Jack was in Guatemala for three more weeks after I got back, as part of a group developing and building a water system for a Guatemalan village. This is the ‘fun’ video (by fun, I mean not to be used for fund raising) that he made to share with folks he traveled with. They worked hard but they also had lotsa good times.
One note about all the fireworks… We were there over New Years… and the Guatemalans take their fireworks very seriously… they’re everywhere! …and in abundance! As you can see the Guatemalans , well the Mayan part of the Guatemalan population anyway, are a fun loving people.
The video is also fun cuz… well it’s just fun to watch. I think it’s too short though. I just wanted it to keep on going…