Killer hikes and pumpkins


Saturday, 13 October 2013

The Half Moon Bay art and pumpkin festival is this weekend. We haven’t been to that for donkey’s years… by the time we got started, there was already something of a backup in the traffic on highway 92. The locals were charging $10 (and up) for parking, but we went on down behind the shopping centre to the park and ride area, no charge, almost deserted.

Wall to wall people! This is something to do once in a donkey’s years, and in between, go somewhere quiet. But we walked the six or eight blocks of displays and vendors. Some nice art, but we’re cheapskates. The nicest thing was the free glass of water from the local filtration plant. This year’s massive-est pumpkin came in at 1770+ pounds. I remember when the world’s largest pumpkin was less than half that weight! All that mass is mostly water, of course, but the pumpkin is big enough to fit a person into, maybe two persons if they were good friends.

Sunday, 14 October

I don’t like crowds, but the world is far better shared with a friend. My hiking buddies have included Shan, Jie Hyun, Albert, Elmar, Jaume, Doris, Anna and of course Jacky, but I don’t have a regular hiking buddy for here at home. When I’m doing it alone, I might as well do a killer hike. The last time I did Grant Ranch was June 2… I’ll try it again. My route is from a roadhead at the old barn around the outermost loop of trails in the park, 21.2 miles and about 4400 vertical feet of climb.

The sun had just topped the mountains when I started. The first mile descends to a creek bed (dry at this time of year), after which the trail gains 1500 feet in two additional miles. I like getting this grunt out of the way early, while the day is still cool; it warms me up and avoids the knee-breaking downhill that would be necessary if I went the other way around.

We tend not to have that much colour in the foliage around here, but autumn does have its special points.

Even the poison oak is attractive (look but don’t touch!).

The sun had not completely illuminated the world…

From the top of the climb. The barn at the far right, Grant Lake at the far left. We hike along this ridge, which more or less curves around to the left, then descend into the valley, climb out the other side and close the loop along the ridge on the far side.

In the valley below the Pala Seca cabin, I came upon half a dozen wild pigs grazing for acorns under an oak tree. They didn’t see me for a minute, and I shot a few pictures before they ran off.

These are the most dangerous wild animals around. They are large, intelligent, fast and vicious. I don’t know whether they are intelligent enough to understand the concept of roast pork, but they run from humans, and I’m glad they do. I wouldn’t want to surprise one in tight quarters.

I met one mountain bikie, and one dog walker near the Twin Gates parking area where I crossed the road, and that was it for the entire day. How different from the mobs at the pumpkin festival!

Well, it gets to be a long hard day, hot on the uphills, pleasantly cool when the breeze blows. This time, I brought enough water! And about 4:30 in the afternoon, I got a look at the barn from the other side.

The morning’s hike was approximately along those grassy ridges, left to right. Lick Observatory high above it all. Nice place, but the rains of winter will be welcome.

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