Wednesday, July 22, 2015

7.17.15 ... Loves Falls

Hike Details:

  • Elevation - low of about 4,300 - high of 5,300 ft.
  • Location - just outside of Sierra City, off of Hwy. 49
  • Mileage - the plan: 3 1/2 - 4 miles; the reality: at least 5, maybe 6
  • Hiking time - 2 1/2 hours
  • Route - (see map and description below) - important note:  the CalTopo map (and other maps) show Loves Falls as being south of the PCT, which is incorrect, unless they're naming something else as Loves Falls that are further down the river. The bridge and the bigger falls are right on the trail of the PCT.
  • Weather - warm...okay, hot!
Hiking with 12 people was just a warm-up for the hike a few weeks later with about 50-60 people! Which is one of the reasons to pre-hike! I've done this hike before, but we decided to add a little mileage so that we'd be hiking on the PCT a little longer.

We started through the campground, got directions from the camp host, and took off up the gravel road in search of the trail intersection with the PCT. We'd walked for quite awhile and it seemed like we should have found the trail turn-off. After trudging up a hot, steep hill for much longer than we should have, we realized we needed to turn around because we'd obviously gone too far. Sure enough, about a half a mile back down the hill we saw the PCT turn-off. In our defense, it was at an angle that was hard to see from the other direction and the marker was on the other side of the trail up in some bushes. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

Oh, yeah, and we walked right past a bear. Wait, what??!! So technically we didn't see the bear, but we're 99.999% sure we heard it. We had just walked past some thick bushes right next to the trail when a few of us at the back heard a "huffing" sound. And it was loud. One of the girls said, "Hey, that sounds like a bird fluttering out of the branches." Um, sure, that's what it was. (Not!) We just kept walking and didn't make a big deal about it because we didn't want to alarm any of the girls (or the bear). Stay calm. Keep walking.

When I got home I immediately started researching bear sounds and found this website with a video that had the exact sound we heard--it sort of sounds like a horse blowing through its mouth.

Glad to know the website calls this "harmless bluster", but it still freaked me out a little bit. Or a lot--at least enough to prompt me to go to my neighborhood REI and pick up a can of bear spray. I also did a lot of research about that and now I carry it with me on every hike.

Friday, June 19, 2015

6.19.15 ... Castle Peak

Hike Details:
  • Elevation – 9,103 ft.
  •  Location – near I-80 just across from Boreal Ridge Ski Resort
  • Mileage – 7 1/2  miles round-trip
  • Time – 3 1/2 hours
  • Route – see map and description below
  • Weather – Perfect
Take the exit at Boreal Ski Resort, turn left under the freeway and drive just a little bit around a bend to park at the trailhead.
 See those craggy peaks FAR off in the distance? Yeah, that's where we're hiking. foot in front of the other and pretty soon those peaks start getting closer and closer.  First we hiked down a gravel road until a fork in the road to the right took us over to connect with the Pacific Crest Trail.
 We passed by some lovely meadows before diving into the thick of the forest.
 And a higher-up meadow...
 Those rocks are getting a little closer...
 We reached the saddle where the PCT heads North and met up with some fun PCT thru-hikers. (I've learned their trail names are DirtyBowl and DoubleHappiness. I'm sure there are fun stories behind those. Hm, I think I need to have a trail name.) We quizzed them about their journey and found out one of them is writing a blog about her experience called "The Importance of Elsewhere". (Click here for the link or I'm putting a link on my sidebar.) It's awesome! Seriously great writing, for one thing. And if you sign up to follow her blog by email, it's like you get a little glimpse of what it might be like to do a thru-hike. I'm living vicariously through reading her great trail journal and wishing I were 30 years younger and could just take off for a few months on such a cool adventure! But for now we're planning to be trail angels on our next hike. (Plus we need to get some more colorful hiking gear! We love their style!)
Okay, back to the trail and time to start making our way up the rocky section to the summit. The last time we hiked up here was crazy windy, almost to the point of knocking us over, so I was happy to have nice calm weather this time. Though as soon as we hit the ridge line, the wind came right up the side of the mountain and was pretty strong. 
 And I had forgotten how steep this trail was. There was plenty of slipping and sliding on the way up, and even more on the way down, not to mention the huffing and puffing as we hit the higher altitude. (That's what I'm blaming it on, anyway.)
 But then we had this view...
 and this view...
And then there was this view...
or even this one...

There was 360° worth of spectacular views! And a nice little perch with a cave-like overhang from which to view all the spectacular-ness.
 Here we are at the top -- victory!
 Not too shabby for some old ladies. (Okay, I'm old, they're not!)

Friday, April 24, 2015

4.24.15 ... Avery Pond

Hike Details:
  • Elevation – not much
  •  Location – Rattlesnake Road, Newcastle - Folsom Lake
  • Mileage – 4-5 miles
  • Time – 2 hours
  • Route – We parked at the Avery Pond Trailhead inside Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, head North/Northeast along the trail that roughly follows the water's edge
  • Weather – lovely
This is more like a stroll, than a hike, but still a nice little workout with some lovely spring scenery with lots of pretty wildflowers. You can follow the trail along the lake for however long you want to walk and then just turn around. Hard to get lost on this one!

 This is Avery's Pond -- a nice little spot to stop for a picnic, there's one picnic table here. Lots of cute little turtles if you look closely.


Friday, March 6, 2015

3.6.15 ..... Snow Much Fun!

Hike/Snowshoe Details:

  • Elevation – 7,000 ft.+
  •  Location – Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort
  • Mileage – 4 miles round-trip
  • Time – 3 hours
  • Route – see map and description below
  • Weather – Beautiful! Just cold enough to keep the snow around but warm enough that we never felt cold

 A few of us have talked about going snowshoeing or cross-country skiing for a couple of years and we finally did it! We decided to start off easy by trying snowshoeing first and going to Royal Gorge, a designated cross-country snow park with good trails and where we could rent all the equipment. Here we are all geared up and ready to go.
 The snow was pretty sparse in some places but there was plenty for snowshoeing from the snowfall last weekend. We knew this might be our last chance.
 On the advice of one of the workers, we started off on the Palisade trail headed towards Lyle's Lookout. Another worker told us we could go from there and cut cross-country up the slope to the Palisade Peak warming hut. Hmm, okay, not sure about that but off we went.
 We made our way along the groomed trail as we got used to walking in snowshoes. It was super easy to learn but not always easy to feel totally coordinated. We won't mention how many times we had little trips and falls because of stepping over our own feet. We also learned that snowshoeing is kind of noisy. Lots of crunching as you make your way over the snow, compared to cross-country skiing which I would imagine is much quieter as you glide. Anyway, here we are at Lyle's Lookout.
 Off in the distance is Devil's Peak, which I've climbed almost to the top, but that's another story for another day. Let's just say that it is aptly named.
 After Lyle's Lookout, we got to a fork in the road and had a decision to make. Should we follow the advice of the guy who said we could just go cross-country up the hill to get to the warming hut? I'm always in favor of climbing a mountain, and the view looked pretty great, so we all decided to go for it. We thought momentarily about the possibility of getting lost, but we all felt confident that it would be super easy to follow our tracks right back down if we needed to.
 We quickly learned that snowshoeing through deeper snow is sort of like walking through piles of sand.
  But it was also a fun, challenging workout...
 We thought for sure we had to be getting close to the warming hut because it didn't look that far away on the map.
 But after making our way pretty far up the hill/mountain, we figured we probably overshot the destination of the warming hut and had climbed up higher all the way to Palisade Peak. There was this one section that was fairly steep and I realized later that we should have also thought about the possibility of avalanches. It didn't occur to any of us at the time because we relied on the advice of the worker who told us to go up that way. I've done some reading about avalanches since then (scary stuff!), and I think we were in a place that was okay, but I wouldn't do it again on that kind of a slope. Live and learn!
 We did make some cool zig-zag tracks though and we enjoyed an amazing view!
We retraced our steps and headed back to the lodge. Man, it felt great to sit down and give our feet a rest!
 Lunch was well-deserved too! (Snowshoeing burns about 400 calories per hour on a flat, groomed trail and about 800 calories going uphill in powder, woohoo for us!)
 Such a fun day with these friends who were willing to let me drag them along on a new adventure!
 Here are some resources to learn more about snowshoeing:
(bet you didn't know there was such a thing, right?)

Friday, January 30, 2015

1.30.15 ..... Michigan Bluff

Hike Details:
  • Elevation - started at about 3500 ft., then went down to 1800 ft. and back up again!
  • Location - near Foresthill, Tahoe National Forest
  • Mileage - 5 miles
  • Hiking time - 3 hours
  • Route - Take the Foresthill Rd. exit from I-80, then just past the town of Foresthill turn right on Michigan Bluff Rd.We parked on the side of the road right when it dead ends in the little "town" of Michigan Bluff.
  • Weather -beautiful, amazingly warm for a January day
(thanks to Rachelle & Misty for sharing pictures!)

My favorite kind of hike is to climb up, then come back down, like you typically do up a mountain. This was not one of those trails because we started out going downhill, stopped at a creek, then turned around and came back up. This trail was worth the hike up and out though because it's such a beautiful area. This is the view from the top looking back over the American River Canyon.
This trail dates back to the Gold Rush when miners would travel between small settlements. It's always amazing to think about the incredible effort it required just to get from one place to the next in those days. And now we do it for recreation. :)
This trail is also now part of the Western States Trail and the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run (for crazy people!). 

I probably should create a tag for "sun flare" because I obviously like it a lot...

We passed by a big section of rock--or what we thought was rock. Well, some of it was, but then we looked closer and realized some of it was petrified wood or very rock-looking wood.

Can you tell which is which?


We got to the bottom of El Dorado Canyon to this beautiful little creek. Perfect spot for a snack and a rest before the inevitable uphill climb.

Yay for Rachelle for being brave enough to set the timer on her camera and then dash over the rocks to get in the picture!

A much easier photo spot...

Then we noticed things moving on one of the posts...

Ladybugs! Thousands and thousands of ladybugs covering the branches and logs nearby!! A ladybug party!
And then there were a couple of little side trips before and after the hike -- my friends quickly found out about my obsession with cemeteries. And the two cemeteries in Foresthill are really cool ones dating back to the Gold Rush era, filled with beautiful headstones, great wrought iron fences and really unique sculptures.
 The light was hitting this one in just the right way to give it this cool glow...

We were struck by the inscription on the bottom of this one showing every year, month and day of Sophie's life. She died at such a young age and I can only imagine that her husband was heartbroken. Such a good reminder that every day of our lives matter! Use them wisely!
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