Posts Tagged ‘Big basin redwoods state park’

Big Basin

June 27, 2015

Saturday, 27 June 2015

We wandered over to Linda’s Seabreeze cafe for breakfast. We thought we might stay another night here, but the motel is full, except for a $300 suite. That is to say, the motel is full.

Hmmm… what if we spent the day at Big Basin and the night at a really, really, really classy joint: home! The price is certainly right, the accommodations are predictably excellent, and we can go on to Monterey or Pacific Grove tomorrow. Talked ourselves into it.

Jacky’s leg is still causing trouble, so she entertained herself at park headquarters (liberally surrounded with redwoods, so she didn’t suffer from lack of scenery), while I went for a little hike. Maybe about 15 miles.


I continue to hope that someday, someone will explain why trees grow in spirals. Especially madrones.

I would also like to hear someone explain why madrone has only two syllables in Californiano pronunciation! This is Mexamerica, after all!


The usual trail to the Berry creek falls was busy, as expected for one of the most popular destinations in the park. I suppose it’s on the order of 9 miles round trip, default routes. Naturally, I wanted more distance and fewer people, so I took the Hihn-Hammond fire road, and Howard King trail, to the 1740′ high point Mt McAbee lookout, from where we can see the surf at Waddell beach! Nice.

It is a long way up this trail and a long way back down. Steep and difficult, as I explained to a group of up-bound lightweight hikers near the bottom of the grade. If they carried on, and I sincerely hope they did, they earned their beer this evening.


As for me, I crossed Waddell creek and went up the trail along Berry creek. As expected, lots of traffic, including several scout troops, some of them camping and doing Skyline to the Sea in three days.




Silver fall (above) is the first, and the prettiest. The trail ascends steeply to some indeterminate number of additional falls, which I believe are jointly known as golden falls.


Along part of the golden  falls, the trail is a series of steps, sometimes with cable railings.


This is the upper part of golden fall, probably the centerpiece of the attraction.


The creek above the fall. You can see how it gets the name golden.


I went on up, turned toward the trail camp, and on uphill on Anderson Landing fire road. This looks a lot like the Sierra Nevada. Eventually topped out at the junction with Gazos Creek road, which runs from the coast over the ridge and down to park headquarters.

At the junction of Gazos Creek and Johansen roads, the sign said 6.5 miles to park headquarters. It was 1:45, and I was supposed to meet Jacky at 3. Oop! 4 is more likely. No cell phone coverage, but she has years of experience in the matter of Dave being late to return.


While here, of course, I’m not going to waste opportunities to photograph interesting things, such as tree houses in private inholdings.


As I mentioned, the main trail to the falls was packed solid. On the route I chose, except for the Berry creek trail itself, and the area at park headquarters, I saw, let’s see: one equestrienne, one hiker, three cyclists.

I stopped one of the cyclists, asked him to let Jacky know that I would be closer 4 than 3 getting back down. And he did.

A great day, indeed!

Spiders and snakeflies and harvestmen, oh dear!

July 1, 2012

Some catching up to do… when last I updated the blog, we had a collection of spiderlings. While the ladder was out, I took the opportunity to photograph an adult or two.

The photo below shows a spider that has just molted its skin! The old skin, there in front, and the new surface, light and shiny. That’s pretty cool.

A few days later, I was sitting in the back yard soaking up a beer, when a little guy came along and perched on my pants leg. The weave of the cloth (below) gives you an idea how big he isn’t!

And this little fellow ran back and forth on the rim of the table for quite a while.

<time passes> I hiked Purisima Redwoods open space preserve with Albert, and the next day, Big Basin Redwoods state park. Nice hikes, but I have no photos to post.

<more time passes> 1 July 2012

Today I left the car at the Wunderlich parking lot, hiked to Skyline, thence to Huddart park and back. As 22 mile hikes go, this one is pretty easy: one climb to Skyline, then along the ridge on a trail that is certainly not flat, but doesn’t gain or lose all that much extra elevation.

When I crossed Kings Mountain road, I stopped for a shot of the cyclists going down. They move right along.

I asked Albert if he knew why trees grow in spirals (he didn’t). When I asked the question, we were looking at an example of a right-hand screw; we speculated that trees in the southern hemisphere might twist the other way.

But here is possibly the most extreme spiral tree I have ever encountered, and it’s a left-hand twist. Most of the madrones around this area were also left-handed, although I saw some right-handed madrones further along. So maybe it’s just in the DNA.

On the way back downhill in Wunderlich park, I stopped to inspect a growth of thistles along the trail. At first I thought this was a tiny mantis, but when you think about it, it’s clearly not a mantis.

Upon research, I discover it’s a snakefly. I don’t think I have ever heard of snakeflies before, and I’m sure I haven’t seen any. Carnivorous.

And in the same area — if you weren’t paying attention, you might think this was a spider.

A harvestman, the other kind of daddy long-legs.

In this picture (above) we can see the little turret atop the head, with one eye on either side. Spiders are considerably more advanced than this.

Finally, a moth; I liked the dual yellow lines of the rolled-up proboscis.

This is the last hike for a while. Friday is for surgery on an Achilles tendon that has been giving me trouble for a number of years now. and I’ll be off the trails for a while.

Pescadero creek, Big Basin

September 4, 2011

You don’t get points in heaven for getting home with water in your bottles.

Or energy in your legs, either, for that matter. I wasn’t sure where to go for this weekend’s killer hike. I have recently been to all of my usual favorite killer hike venues, although I didn’t necessarily do killer hikes at all of them.

How about Pescadero creek county park? I haven’t been there for several years; it’s big enough to support killer hikes. Even better, there is a trail from Butano ridge over to Big Basin redwoods state park, a trail that I have never taken. I’m not sure exactly how far it is, because there are no maps that show all of that terrain. But it’s worth a try. As it happened, I explored a number of new trails today.

Up earlier than the usual 5:20 alarm, left the car at Wurr road, on the trail by 7 AM. Cool and foggy, with sun breaking through as I reached the crest of Butano ridge an hour later.

One of the reasons to come this way was that the inland areas were expected to reach about 35C today. It can be hot on the lower peninsula, too, but maybe not quite that hot. And in fact, much of the day was quite pleasant.

Just above the junction to Basin trail – which runs across an easement to China Grade road, thence into Big Basin park – a massive overhang of rock.

You see rock like this at the beach, sandstone weathered into sensuously curved shapes by the waves. We’re two thousand feet above sea level here.

The easement trail was not maintained all that well, which probably makes sense, given that no one really owns it. I fully expected to be alone most of the day, but there was another hiker up here. He passed me at a wide place, then took a wrong turning. While he was backtracking, I passed him, and he didn’t catch me again. Saw another couple hikers in the high country of Big Basin. Busy today.

The crossing into Big Basin was sunny and hot, the vegetation changing to manzanita and buckeye. Fairly steep descent into Big Basin; I took the Hollow Tree trail. Originally I had thought perhaps to go to Big Basin headquarters, but it’s clearly too far. Then I thought I might make the loop of Hollow Tree trail and Skyline to the Sea trail.

I thought 11:15 would be about the right time for a turn-around, surely not later than 11:30. At 11:15 I checked the GPS, which said I was almost at Johansen road. Ok, that’s a good milestone. Almost 11:30 by the time I got there, and then I’ll backtrack. Stopped for calories and a photo or two of the old shingle mill. There are still a couple boilers lying around, part of a pump, some timber framing lying in ruins.

It always seems strange that one of the largest of trees, the coastal redwood, is best suited for fences and shake shingles, rather than construction. Just too soft, and it doesn’t stand up to weather the way cedar does.

In the cooler forest, I saw more banana slugs than I would have thought possible, but this little guy defines the hot stretch between the parks.

When I got back down to Old Haul road in Pescadero creek park, I thought it was too early to head back to the car, so I decided to take a short set of the side trails to the north of the road. Well… I missed the trail I wanted, got on a trail that took me far out of the way, and even worse, added close to a thousand feet of unnecessary climb to the route. By the time I got back to the car, I was well and truly ready to call it a day.

I thought it would turn out to be at least 25 miles, a long day. But when I loaded the GPS onto the topo map, it only gave me 24.7 miles, admittedly with 4800 feet of elevation gain.

Sleep well tonight, Dave, and get on a plane tomorrow.

The Sea to Skyline

May 1, 2011

Saturday, 30 April, 2011

My colleague Jaume was in town, so it was an opportunity to hike from the sea to Skyline. This is difficult to do solo because you really want to leave one car at one end and get a ride to the other end. The Skyline to the sea trail is often hiked in the downhill direction as a three-day backpacking trip, but it’s of course easier uphill, and three days is definitely on the leisurely side.

We dropped off Jaume’s rental car at the Saratoga gap parking area well before daylight, and Jacky very considerately ferried us to Waddell beach, where we got on the trail about 6:20. There was a sign at the trailhead about trail closures, but we figured there were enough alternatives that we could manage. If necessary, we could probably even ford a creek, though the day was colder than expected, and I’m sure the creeks were even colder yet. As it happened, we didn’t get our feet wet.


I had expected the wind to drop and the day to warm up as soon as we got away from the beach, but as I should have known, cold air goes to the lowlands along the creeks. I debated digging out my jacket, but decided to just tough it out. The first hour or two were pretty chilly. Berry Creek falls, above, was about the point at which the day became pleasantly cool instead of uncomfortably cold.

Berry Creek falls was also the point at which we joined the course of an ultra-marathon that was being run today, so for the next few hours and the next several miles, we had to share the trail with runners (and walkers) out doing something presumably even more ambitious than our adventure. It appeared that there were several routes, but we didn’t find out what the choices were.

Beautiful sunny day, beautiful redwood forest. Could not ask for better!

Skyline to the sea trail was in fact closed not far from Big Basin park headquarters, but the detour was a slight jog to Sunset trail, which then goes toward park headquarters almost as efficiently, or maybe even more efficiently, than the official trail. In fact, we rejoined the Skyline trail just outside park headquarters, and never went to the headquarters area at all.

The stretch from park headquarters to China grade sees the major climb of the day, out of the redwoods, through a pygmy forest and manzanita country, to exposed slickrock and a forest of California oak and buckeye. In the open sun, it was almost too warm, but still a perfect day.

We reached Waterman gap about 1:30, earlier than I would have expected, given that it’s only six or six and a half miles from there back to Saratoga gap. Getting tired, getting sore, but feeling good. We stopped a couple more times for calories, and to look for scorpions (found one, a small one), and missed our 5 o’clock estimate for the parking lot by about three minutes.

This is usually billed as something over 28 miles, so it was amazing that we had finished that soon. The GPS told me it was 25.5 miles (4970 feet of gain). I don’t think that Sunset trail detour took three miles off the route, but 25 miles fits the timing better than 28, so it’s probably correct.

A long day and a good one. Great company, great scenery.