Posts Tagged ‘Peters creek’

Redwoods: Slate creek, Bear creek, Peters creek

October 1, 2012

Sunday, 30 September 2012

I had originally intended to do the Rose Peak killer hike today, but the predictions are for possible record-breaking temperatures, over 100F, especially inland. Maybe I’ll save Rose Peak for a cooler day. It will be hot in the redwoods, but maybe not that hot.

I haven’t hiked the Peters creek loop in Portola Redwoods state park for quite a while. I remember it as a difficult hike; I can turn it into a killer hike by leaving the car at Saratoga gap, adding 3 or 4 miles to the distance. 7:40 by the time I was on the trail, and already warm. I’m drinking water even on the downhills: it’s going to be a dry day!

The upper reaches are open space preserve, and accessible to mountain bikes. After leaving that section, I saw only two other people all day.

And not a whole lot in the small animals department, either. The upper regions are open grassland, but there were no tarantulas in evidence. Further down, the day started with a beautiful garter snake, and by being careful, I was able to actually get very close for a few candid shots, before it decided it had better things to do than pose for pictures.

I’m outta here!

Not long after, I found a spider.

And then it was into the redwoods, where there’s not much to find but banana slugs, and in dry weather, not even many of those. Slate creek was cool and pleasant, as always, and I stopped at the Page Mill site for munchies. Then on over a low ridge (600 feet of climb) to the steep 900 foot descent into the conjunction of Bear creek and Peters creek, where a short loop goes around some of the prettiest scenery I know of anywhere. I spent an hour dawdling around this little loop, seeking out photo ops of interesting or beautiful things (not mutually exclusive).

Fungus on the vertical surface of a fallen tree. Interesting or beautiful?

Moving on into the more conventional scenery…

The ubiquitous oxalis gives the landscape a shingled or mosaic look, depending on perspective. Very attractive!

On the sandy beach by the creek, a butterfly nozzling up a drink of water.

Compare the iridescent colours of the two photos, taken from slightly different angles.

By the time I reached Slate creek again, I was ready to refill my belt water bottles from the backup bottle I had in my backpack, and it was clear that it was not going to be enough. Once I got away from the creek, the air was hot, and I was committed to something like 1500 feet of elevation gain.

The forest was at least shady. When I came out of the trees, the direct sun was even hotter, but there was an occasional light breeze, and that helped. Heavy breathing through my mouth tends to dry out mouth and throat, and I rationed the water I had to keep them wet. Drained the last of the water just as I reached the parking lot about 5 PM, but probably dehydrated by as much as a quart. 20.8 miles, 4300 feet of climb for the day. Nice.

Portola Redwoods state park

January 17, 2010

Within the last six weeks or so, I have hiked all of the long routes in my repertoire of usual suspects, and I asked myself how to get in a long hike without repeating a recent route and without having to drive too far.

So I left the car at Saratoga gap and hiked down Ward road into Portola Redwoods state park. I almost always enter from this direction, if for no other reason than that it saves driving time. I was last here with Grace just over a year ago. We found an abandoned orchard and picked apples in the rain.

Portola is one of the prettiest of the redwood forests, unknown to the tourists, maybe not even to most of the locals. I have always liked the trail along Slate creek to the site of the old Page sawmill, which gave its name to the well-known Page Mill Road on the bay side of the ridge.

There is a spur trail to the Peters creek loop, which I attempted a number of years ago. At that time, it was overgrown with poison oak, waist and chest high, and there was simply no way to get through without severe consequences. So I gave up on it, and really never checked it out again.

This time, I thought I’d go have a look. If it was still inaccessible, I could always add on a few miles back up at the Skyline end of the hike.

Glad I did. It’s an old road for some distance, then it becomes single track. Lots of undergrowth, but I didn’t see much poison oak. Even so, I tried to avoid contact with the vegetation as much as possible. I won’t forget two really unpleasant weeks in January 2007, one of which was spent at the FSAN meeting in Vancouver, recovering from insufficient paranoia about naked vine stems.

The trail descends around 800 feet to a short loop that goes back and forth along Peters creek, crossing the creek several times. I said that Portola Redwoods state park was one of the prettiest, but this loop raises the bar even further. Really nice.

I have rarely been able to photograph a redwood forest in a way that does justice to its beauty, so I contented myself with photos of some of the interesting fungi. If you want to see the creek and the forest, go there :).

I thought this park, and especially the Peters creek loop, were pretty much unknown territory, but there were actually quite a few hikers out. Well, I don’t mind sharing, especially something as beautiful as this.

Back at the end of the former road, I noticed a junk car. It looked like something out of the 1920s or maybe 30s; I suppose that’s when this route stopped being just an ordinary road.

I have resented the junk cars I see along the trails that parallel the roads. It seemed really sleazy to dispose of a worthless car by just pushing it over the edge. But some of the junkers are too far from the road to have just been rolled over the edge. To get where they are, they must have started at high speed, or have moved under their own power, or both. So I started wondering. When there’s an accident and a car runs off the road, do you suppose the authorities just recover the bodies and the license plates and leave the cars where they are?

Although the junk is an eyesore, there may be mitigating circumstances.

Back out of the state park, much of the hike is in open country, and I watched the black weather moving in on me for upward of an hour before I finally stopped and put on my rain shell.

I had been thinking that the overgrown undergrowth would become prime tick territory in another month or two, once things warm up, but when I stripped for my shower, I found a good-sized tick on my wrist. See? I’m not paranoid – they really are out to get me! To fully acknowledge my paranoia, I also washed my hands and legs with Tecnu poison oak soap.

20.26 miles, 4365 feet of climb. A new trail, which is pretty unusual for me, for this area, hard work, and well worth it.