Posts Tagged ‘Skyline to the sea’

Last killer hike of spring

June 20, 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Two weeks since I had any serious exercise (the Aachener Wald last Sunday was a nice walk of maybe 15 miles, but not very vertical). Can I handle a killer hike today? Parked at Los Trancos entrance well down Page Mill road, and hiked 21.75 miles, 3600 vertical feet, on a sticky, muggy day. Not as much fun as it might have been, and I ran out of water, but that’s what happens. For the locals: down Canyon trail, up Table Mountain, to Saratoga gap, back on the west side of Skyline.

Someone at Saratoga gap had let his front wheels come forward off the pavement down three or four inches onto the dirt, and didn’t have enough traction (front wheel drive car) to get back up onto the pavement. Three mountain bikies and I teamed up to lift and push the car onto the pavement. Our good deed for the day.

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Since last I was here, the green of spring has faded completely. The open areas are California golden, chest high dry grass. The pretty areas are in the woods and along the streams. Above: Peters Creek. There are a few ponds here and there, with newts lazing on the bottom, sometimes swimming desultorily around. Notice the one below exposing his butt to the coolth of the air.

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Also a day to find insects, busy drinking syrup from the flowers.

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Hard work today, but I get a beer as a reward. Well, I would have had a beer anyway, but today I earned it!

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.

Finding scorpions!

May 15, 2010

A few weeks ago, I went out looking for scorpions. I found a ringneck snake and a western skink, which made the hike well worth it, photographically speaking, but no scorpions. Once the undergrowth dries up, the scorpions disappear for the season, either retreating further from view or maybe even estivating. In any event, the season is rapidly passing.

I went to Saratoga summit, hiked down Skyline to the Sea trail, detoured on Nutmeg trail and several little stub trails, looking for interesting things to photograph.

 

Although there were creatures of interest, millipedes and even tiny black almost legless salamanders, there didn’t seem to be any scorpions.

I thought I’d go down Beekhuis road trail – the name always makes me think of a Dutch bakery – to the Saratoga toll road and back past Travertine springs and Castle rock. Lots of people out, a number of backpackers probably coming up from the Waterman gap trail camp.

And Beekhuis road trail proved to be the jackpot!

The small ones are almost white; I suspect they are this season’s hatchlings.

The black dots atop the head, if you can call it a head, are the eyes. Not a whole lot of mouth visible.

They are said to be voracious predators, but they recognize large animals (me, for example) and duck under cover when they can.

Darker color goes along with larger animals, and may indicate that they are a year or more old. I really like the rivets around the edges of their armor.

I wonder if the bulgy ones are pregnant, or whether they were just lucky in coming across something large and delicious.

My previous record for finding scorpions is four in one day. Some years, I don’t find any at all. Today I lost count. I think it was somewhere between seven and twelve, before I finally stopped investigating likely habitat. Truly my cup ranneth over!

Well, toward the end of the day, I did pull up yet one final patch of dead bark. No scorpions, just a centipede!

Nice hike. Beautiful country, Castle rock and the San Lorenzo valley. Lots of people out enjoying the day.

There was a little girl, maybe 3, dressed in a beautiful flouncy pink dress, way the hell and gone out on the trail, the trail thickly populated with poison oak. I sure hope her parents knew about poison oak, or she will be in for an unfortunate birthday surprise.

16.5 miles, 3700 vertical feet.