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?
This is the first of the local peaks in our “Parade of Peaks” challenge that we climbed. It’s 1609 feet high on the map. But on the GPS we got 1643 or so. Pretty much the same I guess. I think we will definitely include this peak in our final list.
Type of climb: Out and back Difficulty: 5 Trail grade: 7 Trail use: moderate on a weekend Elevation gain: 1200′ Total climbing: 1440′ Round trip distance: 5.8 mi How long: 2 hours 10 minutes RT Quality of views: 8
Weather conditions when we did it: Clear Red tape: None Maps we used: Water: None Parking: Yes
How to get there: From Santa Cruz, take Highway One for something like 22 miles, pass Waddell Beach and Ano Nuevo, then start looking to your left for an unmarked road called Whitehouse Road. The road junction is across from a turnout off of the main highway. Proceed up Whitehouse Road for 2.3 miles until you reach a small parking area and signs warning not to drive further along road as it is now private. Park… Trail is obvious and heads directly up hill from road.
Hike description: Additional pictures
Redwood shaded trail climb with two viewpoints, to junction with ridge road. Then road takes you to two more lookout points; the final being the top of Chalk Mountain.
The trail is a steep (at times over 20% grade), redwood shaded climb of 1.3 miles climb that gains almost 1000′ before joining a road. There are two view points along the trail during the climb up to the road. First is at 0.5 miles, 900 feet. The second is at 1.0 miles, 1200 feet. Viewpoints are westward facing with views of the coast from Pidgeon Point to Ano Nuevo. The trail intersects with the road at 1.3 miles and 1360 feet of elevation. At mile point 2.0 (1570′ of elevation) there is a large turnout along road connected to a parking lot. These are the best views of the hike looking south overlooking Ano Nuevo. From here you can see the top of the climb to Chalk Mountain proper by looking carefully about a mile eastward along the ridge road to see an antenna nestled in the trees. This is the summit of Chalk Mountain and is at 2.9 miles into the hike. From here you can see into Big Basin and Mt McCabe (see write up) to the east.
After enjoying the views and using the outhouse (yes, there’s an actual outhouse at the top of Chalk Mountain) simply turn around and proceed back along the road, being careful not to miss where the trail leaves the road again at 4.4 miles.
The first time you do this hike, you’ll probably want to go all the way to the actual top of Chalk Mountain (especially if you need to use the outhouse). However after seeing it once, I think you can safely stop at the first lookout and get the majority of the value out of this climb.
There are other ways to the top of Chalk Mountain. For instance, you can get there from Waddell Beach. But this is something like a 14 miler with lots of up and down. However I’ve heard that it’s gorgeous. If you’re looking for an ordeal, try that route.
For those of you who are training for say hiking in the Sierra, this climb could be used as one of those ‘workout’ type climbs. In that case you could turn around at say the trail junction with the road and have your steep 1000 feet or so of climbing… or maybe jam up to the first parking lot (1570′) along the road before turning around. There is a negligible amount of climbing after that.
More detail… To get there, we drove up the coast through Davenport, by Greyhound Rock, etc. until we get to Ano Nuevo Park. Just before you get to Costa Noa there’s a no name road across from a highway turn out that turns inland. Actually it has a name… it’s just not labeled except in very tiny letters on a transformer or whatever that is, on the side of Highway 1 is the name Whitehouse Road.
Marker beside the highway indicating that this is Whitehouse Road
Looking “North” on Highway One from Whitehouse Road
There’s a turn out across Highway one from where Whitehouse Road branches off
Whitehouse Road itself. It’s a well graded but dirt road with some potholes
We drove pretty far along the road. Not sure how far cuz I wasn’t paying attention. But eventually you get to the trailhead.
The climb starts rather abruptly… you get out of the car, put on our hiking stuff… and right out of the gun barrel, the trail starts going up. You start out at about 400 feet of elevation and in the next mile or so, you climb about a thousand feet… then in the half mile or so remaining, you climb an additional say 200 feet to get to the first lookout. I think this lookout is the best because you have a view of Ano Nuevo, Pigeon Point and out into the ocean. As you climb you’re in lush, deep redwoods so it’s cool, and there are two vista points to pause at and take pictures.
The very beginning of the trail
The trail goes up from the very beginning
This is a convenient root where you can sit for a minute or change out of your warmies
Looking upslope at the redwoods
The first view point… don’t just blow by it. The view is awesome
Just hangin’ out, snacking and looking at the view
And up we go again
The second viewpoint
Once you break out into the sunshine. The trail starts to look a bit like the Sierras. The redwood trees turn into shrubs and pine trees.
Breaking out of the redwoods
Jack and Kalika… after being in deep forest, the sun felt kinda good
Then you come to a road. It’s probably obvious but don’t go right onto the road. According to the map, the road ends… go left, that’s where the top of the mountain is. Oh and be sure to take note of the sign next to where the trail meets the road. That will be your marker on the way back. It’s easy to be talking as you walk along the road and miss the trail. No idea what the sign says. The writing is all sun bleached away.
We followed the road for a little while until coming to a structure at a hairpin curve that was obviously carved out. No idea what all these solar panels were about but the view was tremendous.
And Jack did a little climbing to get an even better view…
This pole was a bit rickety…
…and some rungs were missing… so Jack wisely didn’t go much higher than this
We could see the antenna at the real top of Chalk Mountain about a mile away so after some more gazing off at the view, we struck out down the road again. Seemed like it took forever to get to the next antenna but it was a pleasant walk which followed the ridge. Once we got there, the views were still tremendous ‘cept now we were looking inland. Of course my preference is looking out over the ocean.
Took this picture so we could try to look these peaks up on the map later
This photo of the first lookout taken from the second lookout
Telephoto of Ano Nuevo Island
Looking toward Santa Cruz with the Santa Lucia Mountains in the distance
Ano Nuevo Island again
It was a very pleasant day… sunny, warmish, clear… kinda perfect. We all had things to do when we got there. We ate, I changed my clothes into something cooler, Jack climbed another tower (this one was sturdier and higher), Donna examined the wildflowers and Kalika took a nap… oh and the outhouse at the top unexpectedly became a big attraction.
Jack on his quest to get ever higher…
The outhouse… yeah baby!
Then it was time to head back down. Of course we took more pictures along the way. The views continued to be pretty dialed ‘cept now we didn’t have to turn around to take it all in.
Big swell coming in… it’s been relentless for the last few weeks
View of the first lookout from the road
You can see another road and trail on the ridge just north of us
Never gets old…
Found the junction with the trail and descended back into the redwoods.
Headin’ back down through the redwoods
Before this outing, I always thought of Chalk Mountain as an epic local climb. But now I think of it more as one of the local “workout” climbs… sorta like Fall Creek has become. It’s got this sustained, steep 1000 foot climb right from the parking lot and you’re rewarded with some awesome views so that makes it worth getting up there. Up and back it’s about 4 miles then if you add in the trail/road over to the top of Chalk Mountain proper, it’s about 6 miles round trip. But in the future, unless I simply gotta use the outhouse, I think I can miss the extension.
We left Friday morning. Jack and Kalika were going to drive up in the evening, hike in the next morning and meet us. Donna and I had a very pleasant drive up stopping in Oakdale for food. As we got near the trailhead we realized that the directions we had given Jack weren’t quite right so started doing the Highway 108 patrol to get cell signal. We wanted to send him a few direction clarifying texts…. We’re pretty sure that Jack has an “Awesome, Thanks!” auto text message cuz that’s pretty much all we got in response. But he must have gotten the message cuz he made it to the trailhead just fine.
It’s a fairly short hike in… most of it downhill… but the beginning had a sharp ascent. The parking lot was about 7150′ and we climbed up to about 7450′ before starting the descent to about 6700′ or so. Then we climbed up to lake level …. about 6800’… The total hike in was about 3.1 miles. We were racing the sun and ended up in the dark as we puzzled over the our tarp tent. We had only set it up once before in the safety of our front yard… but that time was in the dark too… In fact, it dawned on us that we had never seen the tent setup in the daylight… Weird. No dinner cuz we weren’t particularly hungry and we didn’t want to deal with the stove in the dark.
Donna, as always taken the lead
Headin’ into a meadow with a bunch of these extraterrestrial plants that only Donna knows the name of….
Our first water… we had lots of water but later I would unashamedly dip my Klean Kanteen into this stream without even filtering (gasp)… I didn’t get sick.
Our first look at Sword Lake… wow…
We tried to set up next to Sword Lake cuz that’s the first lake we came to… but all the sites we could find were taken… Hmmmm… more people here than I expected. I was turned onto these lakes by my very own Dr. William Mears… only the best doctor in the world… He backpacks too and knows all these cool places to go. He only goes to places that aren’t frequented often by others. He’s the one who turned us onto Hyatt Lake… One of last year’s Emigrant Wilderness Area trips… That was amazing… not easy to get to but once we were there, it was heaven (see earlier blog post). At Hyatt Lake, we actually had our own beach all to ourselves… and didn’t see anyone at the lake during our stay. Was just amazing… So I was a little surprised to see people here at Sword Lake. But people there were and we still had to find a place to plop down for the night… Finding nothing at Sword Lake, we continued on to Lost Lake and and came up with a place right away. Rule of thumb is that you camp no closer than 100 feet from the water. But there’s so damn many lakes there that this wasn’t easy… and… sigh… we didn’t succeed… However the next morning we found that with few exceptions, no one else had been successful either… sigh… at least we tried…
After a very pleasant night, the sun came up and we emerged from our tent to see where we were….
Donna’s hiking clothing drying in the morning sun…
Surveying the landscape in the morning
Donna’s pack and bear canister
Gettin’ the stuff out for breakfast
Breakfast time… we hauled out the stoveS… yes… plural… I brought both the new alcohol stove (that I recently purchased from Trail Designs) and our butane canister stove… Decided I didn’t want to mess with the alcohol stove just yet… Our desire for coffee was feeling fairly urgent. So set up the butane canister stove.
Canister stoves are awesome… you just turn it on and light it… so easy… and powerful. It heats a liter and a half of water up to boiling in like five minutes. The only problem is that the fuel is so heavy… the full canisters weigh 13.35 oz. And the empty canisters weigh 6.35 oz… That means that three empty canisters weigh over a pound! Alcohol is much lighter… but it’s way less powerful and using the stove takes a touch more finesse and patience… worth it though for the weight savings. I love using the butane… but for longer trips, the canister weight is adds up. Donna and I came up with a policy for deciding which stove to take… on weekend trips, we’ll take the butane … and on longer hiking trips, we’ll use the alcohol stove. End of discussion. I like both stove systems so was happy with the policy.
OH!!! Another thing I was trying for the second time on this trip…. using trekking poles as I hiked. I used them once before when we climbed Shasta. I’ve always been anti-trekking pole… They seem so goofy and unnecessary. But have run into SO many backpackers who swear by them. Well… being an absolute sucker for outdoor gear, I bought myself a set… some nice ones in fact. And now I was using em… And I guess I’m not gonna lie… Turns out that I like them… kind of embarrassed about it though… especially after all my anti-trekking pole diatribes… I hope I don’t run into those people again. It’s so embarrassing being me sometimes. I think I should do an entire post on trekking poles… or maybe not… to non-backpackers, it’s likely to be a bit annoying. They’re good for me though cuz from all those years (decades) of swimming, I’ve got some fairly well-developed triceps to pole with… so they help my legs on the climbs… and there’s more stability on the descents… of course they’re also great for scratching back itches and swatting branches… AND… I even started doing trekking pole tricks as I hiked… however this is something that should maybe be reserved for when I’m mostly by myself. There seems to be a risk of impaling others as I swing my poles around… at least that’s what I’m told.
Back to our trip though… Today (Saturday) Donna and I originally had planned to climb up on the Dardanelles… However after seeing where we were camped, we decided that there was no way that Jack and Kalika would be able to find us… So we decided to hike back out to the trailhead instead to intercept them as they hiked in. As we hiked out, we encountered a number of folks hiking in and they reassured us that they had seen a couple sleeping in a Ford Ranger. As we climbed we got updates as to how they were progressing… they were sleeping… then someone else said they were awake and sitting up in the back of the pickup… then someone else said they were walking around getting ready to hike… etc. Finally two women said they were right behind them. Donna and I climbed up the trail until we came to a big rock where we sat and waited for them to come down the trail. It was very pleasant sitting there giving hikers an excuse to stop and chat with us… Donna was busily cataloging flowers to amuse herself… It was wildflower season so there were flowers everywhere, which of course was a source of tremendous delight for her.
Much too soon, there they were… I wasn’t done sitting on the rock yet… but now I had to get up and hike… sigh… All these energetic people.
We all hiked back down to the lake…
Donna delighting in the trailside wildflowers
A field of ferns… this photo doesn’t do this green carpet justice but you get the idea
After we got back down to our camp, Jack and Kalika went about finding a place for their tent. They settled in right next to the lake… When they were unpacked, tent up and established, we had lunch and went for a hike.
Lunch break in the shade
Spicer Meadows Reservoir
It’s so much bigger in real life than it is in the topo
Water level is pretty down though…
Jack and Kaleka
After our return from the hike around Lost Lake, we went for a swim to cool off. The day had warmed up a bit… This was my first time back in the water after a couple years of being out of the pool. Sigh… I got to see just how out of swimming shape I have become… Good Lord! Yes it’s been a couple years but damn… I totally sucked. I did wish that I had my goggles though. Next time….
We lay around all afternoon… it was a lazy day… Then… dinner time… well dinner time for Donna and me… Jack and Kalika had fallen asleep in their tent and we didn’t want to disturb them. BUT… I finally got to try my new alcohol stove… It was awesome. I really like the engineering that went into the Trail Designs systems. Raw engineering is a beautiful thing. This will be our go to stove for long trips. And just so I don’t forget… it’s 1/2 oz of alcohol to boil two cups of water in say six or seven minutes… maybe even less. Yes… it takes more patience to cook with alcohol but it’s super light and that’s a major offset. Enough about my stove issues… movin’ on…
As the sun began to set, a sleepy Jack and Kalika emerged from their tent and we set em up with dinner. Then it was time to head for our tent.
I want to rave about the stars in the Sierra when it’s dark… they’re just dazzling… and the moon, Venus and Jupiter were lined up right next to each other in the twilight… it felt absolutely cosmic being out there in the twighlight.
Next morning, we broke down camp in about as leisurely a way as I think was possible. Jack and Kalika were very late getting up but quickly caught up with us as we all packed up… And we broke camp all together and started the hike out.
For some reason, Kalika ended up in front… and not sure how or why, but she set a blistering pace… I was having a tough time keeping up… my little hiking poles were a clickin’ and a clackin’ at a feverish pace… Oy! Sparks were flying and I was barely keeping up. Finally everyone stopped for a break at a creek… and I kept going so I could hike at a little slower pace for a while… whew… a change is as good as a break… after that things settled down and we eventually all made it back to the car for the endless drive home.
My pack and some of our gear
The new tarp shelter
The alcohol stove
The Elephant and the Lion
Kaleka charging ahead
Everyone pretending to be having fun… Now that we were stopped, I WAS having fun
Donna and I at the boundary to the wilderness area
It’s so weird how it doesn’t look very far on the map… but it’s just endless when you’re driving it. How can that be?
Great trip… Donna and I wanna go back and climb The Dardanelles… maybe in the Fall if we can squeeze it in… This is a nice trip cuz it’s so easy to get into the area… less than three miles of hiking and you’re there… It’s a bit like the Saddlebag Lake trip near Tioga Pass. There it’s only about two gorgeous, flatish, miles into the 20 Lakes Basin… then you’re in heaven. So that’s actually an easier trip… ‘cept for the drive.
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…