Tag Archives: camping

Skyline to the Sea Day 3

First glimpse of ocean, on our last stretch of Skyline to the Sea

Sunday, 22 May, 2016. Jay Camp/ Big Basin HQ to Waddell Beach. 10.2 miles.

I woke again to the sounds of birds, trilling at first light, and occasional loud insect buzzing. A woodpecker also made its presence known. Mosquitoes were still out at this hour, though thankfully not as much as the evening prior.

Breakfast (Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon is not as good as Mountain House Breakfast Skillet), camp breakdown, a last scouring of the area to make sure we are LNT, and we were off. Hooray for warm water coming out of the taps in the bathrooms!

Heading out of Big Basin HQ

Big Basin, even at 10am on a Sunday morning, was already crowded with a goodly number of visitors. As we set off from HQ, we passed numerous groups who looked like they were on their own walkabouts, and some who appeared to be headed to Berry Creek Falls.

Unlike the day before, it was a little sunny in certain sections, but the tree cover provided a great canopy and shade so it never really got too warm. The trail thinned out in sections and began to get crowded again as we neared the Falls.

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Skyline to the Sea Day 2

Our little group, ready!

Saturday, 21 May, 2016. Waterman Gap to Big Basin HQ and Jay Camp. 9.84 miles

I woke and dozed intermittently with sunrise, the sounds of the birds, the various creakings and sighings of a camp coming to life. In the night I had also occasionally woken to the sounds of rain pitter-pattering on our tent. The drizzle would last barely a minute before stopping. This would be the pattern for the morning as we made our way to Big Basin headquarters.

We were the last ones out of the camp. We finally emerged from our tents relatively late, ~ 7am, but we were taking our time to be able to wait for Caiti. She arrived ~9:45, and had clearly hustled to get to where we were. She had arrived late last night at Castle Rock parking lot and ended up hiking in the dark. That didn’t bother her so much as a sketchy guy in the parking lot who had put wings to her heels and helped power her to Castle Rock trail camp 2 miles away.

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Skyline to the Sea Day 1

C in Castle RockFriday, 20 May, 2016. Castle Rock to Waterman Gap. 9.22 miles.

To shuttle or not to shuttle, that was the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, the slings and arrows of a long day of driving, in order to have 2 vehicles at the beginning and ending trailheads, or to take a stand against too much fuss, and by opposing, choose to take a taxi or uber at the end.

Our last point to point in Point Reyes had been marked by some 2.5 hours of driving between two trailheads before we even began our hike, and DD did not want to repeat that again, sure to be longer on this particular trip. So on Friday, DD, Christina and I set out from San Francisco a little after 1:30pm and headed south, and met Jared at the Castle Rock parking lot around 3pm.

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Snow Basics Days Two and Three

Blue skies on Saturday

We woke to the sounds of wind blowing and batted at the sides of our tent to release snow. Unfortunately that action also released drops of condensation that went spattering all over our sleeping bags and faces. Our feet had been a little cold during the night, and we eventually realized that it was because we had neglected to completely zip up the entrance between our tent and our vestibule. A mild, very light sprinkling of snow that had blown in from our vestibule lay at our feet.

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Snow Basics Day One

Setting up camp in snow

I rose while it was still dark, so I could jump into the last shower of the weekend, finish packing, and hustle off to breakfast. At 9am, we were supposed to meet Ned and the rest of the group at Motel 6, a little further south and en route to our trailhead at Echo Lake. Despite our excitement, we had slept pretty well, what with DD’s white noise app helping to drown out the sounds of the start-and-stop air conditioner/ heat regulator.

I chose the Holiday Inn Express in part of their free breakfast, which included hot options. So it was convenient for us to sort of roll out of our rooms and to the breakfast bar area without much ado. At 7:30am, it was grey and cloudy, and sputteringly drizzly, but no snow, yet.

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Snow Basics Course, Day Zero

A slight pause on Saturday morning

Leading up to this particular weekend, we had been watching the weather like hawks. Forecasts had shown a rather large storm moving into the general NorCal area and we were a bit worried.

DD had signed us up for a 3-day Snow Basics course with Ned Tibbits’ Mountain Education organization late last year. DD’s got goals of hiking the PCT, or at least parts of it sometime in 2017 and wanted to be prepared to encounter and deal with snow conditions – in particular learning about self arrest during an accidental slip-and-fall down icy slopes, or even if a purposeful glissade goes horribly wrong. We’d probably be able to use similar techniques if El Nino proves true to form and we get an unusually high snow year when we venture on the John Muir Trail this summer (although this seems pretty unlikely due to our late July start date).

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Hiking the Ohlone Wilderness Trail Day Two

Rolling Hills

Eighteen Miles. Eighteen Miles! I should have figured it out on my own, when DD said that we’d be thru-hiking 28 miles, and completing only 10 in the first day. But I was stunned and demoralized on Day 1 and couldn’t comprehend another day that was longer and possibly as difficult as the first. I’ve run 18 miles in the past, but on relatively flat terrain or in San Francisco where hills were not as prolonged or steep, and certainly not while carrying a full 20+ pound backpack.

DD assured me that today’s route would be easier, that the inclines were not as steep, and there might be points on the trail (such as the Sunol Visitor Center, 10 miles in) where we could cut it short, if we really were exhausted. That cheered me up a bit.

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Rae Lakes Loop Recap and Random Thoughts

One of the Last Bridges

Some last thoughts about my first-ever backpacking trip/ visit to a National Park…

Planning/ reservations

Jared handled all of our reservations to obtain our permit, which is required during peak season – May 22 to Sept 26. Not only should you make a reservation in advance, but you also need to pick up your physical permit at your starting trailhead before you embark on your hike. There is a limit of 25 people/ day to hike either clockwise or counterclockwise, and 3/4 of those reservations are able to be made in advance. The rest are available as day-of walk-ups. My friends Justin and Stephanie were able to get a walk-up permit on 4th of July weekend last year. We were lucky to make and get our reservations for a clockwise loop well in advance – early May for our late June trip. Make sure to pick the correct entry trail for the direction you wish to go in. Going clockwise, your entry trail is Wood’s Creek; counter-clockwise, the entry is Bubb’s Creek.

Here is the helpful trip planner from SEKI, but you may want to peruse their Rae Lakes Loop info page first.

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Rae Lakes Loop Day One

The Sphinx


Tuesday, 23 June, 2015. Road’s End to Upper Paradise Valley Camp, 5035-6876 feet in elevation, 10 miles. 

On Tuesday, we woke at 5am, as soon as it became light, and quickly got ready. Our plan was to have breakfast at CGV, but by the time we made it to the there, it was only 6:52am, and the cafe did not open until 7:30am.

So off to Road’s End long term parking we went, planning on quickly eating a bar at the start and then taking a longer breakfast/ coffee break at Mist Falls, some 4 miles in.

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