Older - IN THIS ISSUE: 0. Yosemite National Park and Half Dome climb, July 20. 1. Hogback/RR Hiking on Tamalpais 2. Paso Robles Wine Country 3. Hiking on Mt. Tamalpais 5. Picnic and a Hike on Mt. Tam 5. The Four Seasons Biltmore/Santa Barabara Wine Country 6. Christmas 2007 John Ash and SF
Congratulations to Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) on winning this year's Tour de France. Let's see, the Aussie Cadel Evans was 2nd, followed bu Austria's Bernard Kohl in 3rd, I forget who was 4th, and Chicago's Christian VandeVelde (Garmin-Chipotle, team Slipstream) was an excellent 5th place overall, just 3 minutes back of Sastre after 21 days of racing. Officially Spain has now won the last three Tours, with Armstrong the previous seven, dating to 1999.
Today's Sunday hike (Matt Davis Tr. in the photo at left) was from the Tamalpais State Park Pantoll Ranger Station/Campground trailhead.
We hiked out the Matt Davis Trail all the way down to Stinson Beach (losing exactly 1500' elevation).
The forest is old Douglas Fir-dominated.
It was a chilly day at the beach due to the thick fog layer around 800'. Still a few dedicated kids and surfers braved the waters.
Upon leaving Stinson we easily found the start of the Dipsea Trail and starting up its initial stairs and the dirt path itself. We exited Dipsea
and took the arduous Steep Ravine Trail climb back up to Pantoll. It is steep and it is a ravine -- it parallels Webb Creek with many bridge crossings
zig-zagging the creek and even a 10-foot ladder climb.
It's a beautiful, shaded Redwood forest on this portion of the Steep Ravine tromp.
In this photo from the Matt Davis Trail you can see the fog obscuring just a little bit. We completed this whole hike (about 7.2 miles) in just over three hours including our break at Stinson.
Photo - Douglas Firs forest on Matt Davis; certainly a primordial feeling to this forest--especially hiking it in a fog layer.
Another pretty Doug Firs photo from the trail.
I did get a little poison oak on my arm, above my elbow on this hike (5 days later it's barely spread but continues to itch).
More photos: Wild and green Steep Ravine trail.
Traffic Jam at the infamous 10-foot ladder in the Ravine trail.
[VIDEO after we got off the cables, well shot by Steve: Excellent Cables video. Nice 52 sec. video showing Half Dome and cables (95MB AVI file)]
Deb - cables on the Half Dome climb and very close to the top -- 9:37 a.m. Sunday. Half Dome (with the cables up in their metal stanchions) is a Class 3 climb (with the cables down it's a basic Class 5 - difficult).
At the right, Our nine man group getting set to tackle Half Dome, 7:45 a.m. Sunday morning. It took just under two hours to reach the top, in a cold wind and rain, and a scary build-up of static charge while we briefly paused at the top (a scant 3.5 minutes pause and look-see after all of that effort!).
The SUMMIT GROUP, several showing faces of concern and some statically-charged hair. I pasted in myself on this image
as I did not have time to properly setup the tripod and do the camera's self-timer function
(this is a combo of two images numbered 4010 and 4011).
Finally down, 31 long minutes later after pausing and heading down from the top.
You had to quickly learn new technique to descend on wet, slippery granite slope.
Part of it involved sliding on your ass in a controlled slip or "glissading" with your left foot and coming to a stop and using
both hands as gripping brakes on the cables.
Approaching our goal (Warning - large, 1.5MB image file) - large stitch-up image presentation of our approach to the world-famous, big slab of granite.
Look how tiny the people are... if you can spot them!
Today's 2 hikes highlighted in yellow, 12.0 miles total.
After breaking camp we hit the trail for the climb down to Happy Isles from Little Yosemite Valley. It's a 2,000 ft. plunge with lots of rocky steps past two awesome waterfalls -- Nevada and Vernal. Coty, Alex, and I waited for the rest to show-up in the cover of a bus stop from the rain at the Happy Isles trailhead. After that I bought ice cream for Alex because we got free showers at Curry Village!
Wikipedia on Half Dome - good info
Half Dome day hike - from the NPS
Wikipedia on El Capitan - good info
Grade VI climb of Half Dome's NW Face
Illilouette Fall, Creek, and Ridge
Mono Meadow trail map
Curry Village tented camp
Alex & Kelsie - first two backpackers at the Little Yosemite Valley backpackers camp.
One of today's highlights was the wild abandon we felt in our running, jumping, and diving into the cold Merced River as if we were all 13-year-olds like Alex. I think nearly all of us partook, I know I did against my own better (ha!) judgment. It sure felt good. It's hard to keep up with the boys Coty and Alex when we get close to creeks and rivers--no matter how cold the water! After a fairly grueling, hot hike with heavy packs, the river plunge was "Beyond Category" as a luxury. (E.g., the 2nd leg of today's trek (today's hike consisted of three legs with each demarcated by a water plunge) -- with Kelsie and Alex, ALL CLIMBING, from the low point of Illilouette Creek Bridge up to the top of the climb took 45 minutes with only brief water breaks, the temperature was in the 90s.)
Today's Trail Map -- highlighted in yellow, 7.1 miles total.
[VIDEO #1 of the camp, shot by Steve:
Kelsie, "I'm bored!". Nice 50 sec. video of the camp (90MB AVI file)]
(first we had to deal with a momma bear and her cub at 3:30 a.m. in our Curry Village Tents--dad rushed to lock our tent cabin door! Ranger shouting, "Go Bear! Get outta here bear!" and shooting a couple of blanks. I saw the bear.)
Our group of eleven getting ready to head out from the Mono Meadow trailhead to our proposed camp near Illilouette Creek.
Front row: Deb, Ben, Alex, & Steve.
Back row: Ken (me), Brianna, Corey, Vic Sr., Kelsie, Coty, & Chris.
Our packs starting out weighing in at between 19 to 44 lbs. depending on which horse was shouldering the load.
Our Ill. camp -- two tents, several under the stars, and one STP Special hammock.
So... the bus from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point will stop off at the Mono Meadows trailhead to let off backpackers -- they let off exactly 11 of us. The bus is $20/person and is almost an hour's ride high up from the Valley with a nonstop nature lecture by the driver. He's was also pretty anti-smoking and anti-rookie-RV rental drivers. :)
This day's hike was fairly short, barely three miles and involved only one serious climb through burned out forest. This is springtime in the High Sierra so many meadow and forest flowers are blooming. At our first break we stopped for lunch near a creek -- some sort of a feeder creek (no name) that runs below the Horizon Ridge down into Illilouette Creek. I slipped on a log and rock and skinned up my knee, shin, and forearm, and almost lost my camera -- the lens hood helped save it and Deb located it at the bottom of the water. Whew!
[VIDEO #2 of the camp, shot by Steve: Ben - Chef 1st class!. Nice 66 sec. video, morning, of the camp (large 122MB AVI file)]
Today's Trail Map -- highlighted in yellow.
Welcome! our group to the beautiful park. Only Bri is missing from this group photo as she was taking a bus into the Valley later in the evening.
After the requisite sign group photo we paid our $20 national park entry fee per car (good for one week) and parked near the Bridal Veil Fall trailhead near the meadow, and across from El Capitan for a tasty picnic lunch (we made sandwiches early in the morning).
"Camp Curry was founded in 1899 by David and Jenny Curry, two schoolteachers from Indiana..." We checked in and got our two tent cabins -- #'s 48 and 49. I think there are about 250 tent cabins (wooded floor, four beds, canvas walls and ceiling and an overhead light bulb with a door that locks and bear locker outside each).
In the afternoon Dad and I did a little easy hike from Curry to Happy Isles trailhead. We horsed around on a few rocks, did a small creek crossing and I almost lost my white heavy zoom lens on the bus along with its daypack. I left the pack on the bus in my haste to exit. An hour later I retrieved it from the same friendly bus driver.
EVENING PICNIC - Ben was a master sous chef with his portable gas grill and sausages. Deb made an excellent potato salad that was enough to feed an army along with a vegetable salad of some kind. A ranger warned us about a bear in the vicinity and to run like hell if it gets near any of us. After feeding us Ben had to split to pick up Bri at the valley bus station (she came in from Humboldt State to the town of Merced and then rode the bus to Yosemite--so clever).
Thursday morning, 7/17, the large group of us (11) heading to Yosemite for camping and back country back packing. It will be Ben, Deb, Steve, Chris, myself, Brianna, Corey, Kelsie, Coty, Alex, and Vic Sr. -- all family! Returning Sunday night and Monday I'll be updating the blog about the whole deal. What a trip!
Us on the bridge over Van Wyck Creek at Alpine Lake on the Kent Trail.
Photo data: Canon EOS 40D, 16-35 2.8L lens at 32mm, 3/10 sec., f/8, ISO 200, Velbon mini tripod, 10 sec. camera self-timer, shot Raw format.
Continuing the 2008 tradition of Sunday hikes -- this time starting at the trailhead below the Bon Tempe Lake dam, between old Alpine and young Bon Tempe lake reservoirs in MMWD land -- this is just above the town of Fairfax and below the Meadow Club (golf). Much of Marin's drinking water comes from these man-made lakes. [Here is our trail map for this hike.]
This was a feature-packed and scenic hike! We saw new small lakes (ponds or marshes... whatever, one has the funny name of Foul Pool, the other is called Hidden Lake), a beautiful Redwood grove, the landslide from 1982, a couple of odd and massive Douglas Fir trees (these are all on the Kent Trail as it straddles the Alpine Lake shoreline).
Kent Trail PHOTOS: [Bent Douglas Fir] [Branched Douglas Fir - 1] [Branched Douglas Fir - 2] [Redwood Grove - 1] [Redwood Grove - 2] [Redwood Grove - 3] [Kent Tr. hiking--nice view of Alpine Lake!] [Decaying Pipeline on Kent Tr.] [Tamalpais viewed from Bon Tempe, end of hike]
Finally, a steep descent to negotiate on the Rocky Ridge fire road back down to the Bon Tempe dam -- tyro mtn bikers can't handle the technical challenges this presents (super steep/over 24% gradient, balance on your bike [handling skills], keeping wheels in traction w/dirt, strength and endurance to keep moving up, and finding a right climb line). A pipeline, reportedly built in 1888 and abandoned in 1956 runs most of the length of the Kent Trail section we were on--what massive amount of labor it must have taken to build that 6-inch diameter line?--amazing, and then to simply be allowed to rust away.
[Landslide stark remnants from 1982]
[The Foul Pool (funny name)]
[Hidden lake (a high marsh)]
[Rocky Ridge fire road]
Excellent reference book: TAMALPAIS TRAILS, 5th Ed., by Barry Spitz, editions from 1990 - 2004. (for example, the fire scars on the Redwood Grove photos date from 1945 when a big fire swept through the north side of Tam -- a week-long fire covering 14,000 acres!)
The Bon Tempe Lake was formed when Lagunitas Creek was dammed in 1949 (1.3 billion gal. capy)
Husband and Wife.
Photo data: Canon EOS 40D, 16-35 2.8L pro lens at 19mm, 1/30 f/7.1, ISO 200, 10 sec. camera self-timer, shot Raw format.
A very cool hike today -- we started at the parking lot of the Tennessee Valley trailhead, next to the Miwok Livery horse barn, and did a 7.5 mile through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) of the Marin Headlands...
[Our trail map]
Ken -- halfway through with the hike coming down the steep Miwok fire road. We were in and out of the fog layer all morning.
(Hill 88 - Photo data: Canon EOS 40D, 85mm 1.8 lens, 1/500 f/9, ISO 200.) Hill 88 housed a former Nike Missile site which is still fully intact, rusting away sans anti-aircraft missile weaponry. We're climbing the Wolf Ridge trail here. [ WEB - The IFC area for site SF88-L.]
Because it was so foggy this morning we missed out on most of the views. Fog has a way of concentrating your mind and vision on the very local surroundings and the cool, foggy wind does the same. From Googling other Web pages on Hill 88 it's apparent there are some nice ocean views from that area -- however, not for us this morning! Next time.
At the left, a typical example of the fog layer we were often in -- this is the Bobcat Trail (fire road, MTB friendly) that we took from the Alta Trail to Miwok and the FAA Antenna. Elevation at this photo's point is about 900'.
The FAA antenna on top of the hill next to Bobcat Trail, near its intersection & trail termination at Miwok; elevation is 1041'. The hike's highest point is here at the antenna -- feels rather eerie up here when surrounded by fog.
Tri-Tip! and Zin at Family Wineries.
Photo data: Canon EOS 40D, 16-35 2.8L pro lens at 35mm, 1/400 f/9, ISO 100.
Zinfandel and Food pairings at four locations -- participating wineries -- this Saturday. We started out at the Family Wineries location (6 wineries tasting there in the one room); also a neighboring winery on the same grounds at 4791 Dry Creek Rd., Amphora -- who made five -- took part. Family had a nice grilled brisket (tasty!) paired with the Zins they were pouring along with some delicious chocolate brownies. Family is very friendly and a lot of fun -- first time we've been to their Dry Creek location (Amphora photo data: Canon EOS 40D, 16-35 2.8L lens at 26mm, 1/30 f/3.5, -2/3 EC, ISO 800) (we will be returning soon too); they also have a tasting room for six other wineries in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. After Family we went to Rued winery (chicken) and then Mazzocco (tiny, thinly sliced brisket sandwiches). Finally, we tasted at Alderbrook winery near Healdsburg. For $10 you got a tasting glass, a red, white, & blue bracelet, and free food and wine tastes at the five locations.
THEY DID IT! I made a couple photo collages from the SF Chronicle's images of these two insanely ridiculous athlete climbers. The new record was set by these two on July 2, 2008.
Yosemite rock photography by Michael Maloney
Photo Collage at right.
(6/29 trail map)
Today we did our 7th Sunday hike on/around Mt. Tam, since only May 11. We started on W. Blithedale Ave. near Lee St., deep in the redwood neighborhood of Mill Valley at the beginning of the Railroad Grade fire road trailhead. The hike was 6.6 miles and just over 3 hours total. Nice, sunny day with most of the smoke from the numerous wildfires blown away with the change in the winds from two days ago. We started by climbing up the H Line F.R., past the water tanks, then a right up Blithedale Ridge F.R., continuing on up to a couple knolls for scenic views and photos ops; we reversed our direction descending to the spot we turned right, then down the H. Line switchback to the (left on) Southern Marin F.R., continued north on this flat portion and a left up the steep, short Dawn Falls trail. I've mountain-biked some of these fire roads numerous times since 1998. You see a lot of trail runners and dogs running leash free here. We then turned right on Hoo-Koo-E-Koo trail for a little out & back, the back up Hoo-Koo trail to the junction at Blithedale Ridge F.R., turned right and climbed the "Roller Coaster" section almost to the junction of Koo-Koo F.R., and reversed direction back down -- this is easily the toughest moutain biking around -- it presents a super dificulty level on both the sandy, steep climbs and the rocky, roller coaster descents -- I've done this section on the MTB about ten to twelve times -- some really nice views again and lots more photos ops taken. All these steep downhills are rough on the kness, especially my surgically scoped L. knee (from way back in 1988 anyway). Two naproxen and Full Sail IPA brews this evening helped a little.
Madrone peeling bark.
The last third of this hike is interesting -- we took the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail from its junction with Blithedale Ridge skirting the top of ?Named? Canyon (my Barry Spitz book has the name) and past the Echo Rock formation (large images: photo one, photo two). The trail then rises up to the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo fire road where it meets the apex of the very steep Corte Madera creek trail (rather rough). Today's hike is number B1 as described in our reference book "Hiking Marin: 133 Great Hikes in Marin County", by Martin, Martin, & Johnson (1999).
This Sunday, 7/06, we are planning on a Tennessee Valley hike, number A6 "Oakwood Valley - Wolf Ridge" in the book (7.5 miles length). This is in Southern Marin, between the Headlands/GG Bridge and just south of Mt. Tam.
The Tour de France starts on July 5 with the BEST team ASTANA (Leipheimer, Contador, et al) not invited. The official 2008 start list with the 20 teams.
Pinot tasting at Rick's Wine Cellar in Corte Madera.
We tasted pinots from W. Marin County (Orogeny winery), Carneros (Flowers winery), and Talbott Vineyards winery (Monterey County - Santa Lucia Highland, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard) this Saturday afternoon. Rick makes excellent panani sandwiches, nearly 300 sold to-date since only March, and he also had a superb, rich, full-bodied chardonnay (hard to find 3 Sticks) on the tasting menu.
[Rick's website] [Sleepy Hollow vineyard page]
In San Francisco, you know summer has arrived when the temperature plunges (starting a week ago) and it's windy and foggy.
This coming Sunday, 6/22, we are revisiting our Cataract Trail/Creek - High Marsh loop hike on Tamalpais.
Here are contact sheet photos from that hike we did in March 2006:
Cataract Bridge photos
Contact sheet #1
Contact sheet #2
Contact sheet #3
Contact sheet #4
Contact sheet #5
Parked off of Ridgecrest Blvd near the already full Rock Spring trailhead lot (lots of theater fans show up very early). Went out the Benstein Trail, then to the Lagunitas fire road past the gorgeous Potrero Meadow to Rifle Camp and then Upper Nortside trail, a right then on the rocky International Tr., full of awesome views to the north, then up and across Ridgecrest Blvd, and straight down the steep, steppy Miller Tr. to RR Grade fire road and down to the bustling West Pt. Inn (this was a Pancake Sunday there). We hiked back via Rock Spring Trail, through the theater (crowd gathering already for the 1PM play performance) and then back to the car.
Fog Layer and view to Mt. Diablo 25 miles to the east.
I got plenty of great photos on this hike using just my Canon 16-35 2.8L pro lens. We were above the fog layer the entire time -- it was very thick between elevations 500 - 1,000 feet; made for pretty nice views looking down at the cloud sea of fog (image at right, shot from the RR Grade portion of the hike).
Tiger Woods provided plenty of drama on his gimpy leg today tieing Rocco Mediate for 1st place at the U.S. Open -- insanely fun watching that down there on his "home course" of Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA.
Paraduxx porch, tasting room.
Picked up Yann, Cindy's Swiss colleague and wevisited these 4 Napa Valley wineries today: Elyse, Havens, Paraduxx, and Luna. I took just the 40D body with only the 16-35 2.8L lens for walkaround shots (same as the next day on our Sunday hike). Elyse and Havens were nice discovers -- they were recommended to us and are small wineries (under 15K cases/year) by Napa Valley standards. Paraduxx takes online reservations for their tastings on Opentable.com. Late lunch at Mustard's was expectedly excellent. Finally Luna Winery -- they remodeled the interior and now charge two tasting levels -- $20 and a $40 one! Wow. Forty bucks for a premium tasting, pretty much unheard of unless you go to Opus One.
Trail map plans for Sunday's (June 15) hike highlighted in yellow. Our trailhead will be the Rock Spring parking lot off of Panoramic Hwy close to the busy Mountain Theater. We will head out Cataract to Simmons and the Benstein trail and many more.
Saturday -- BBQ grilling: pork tenderloin, marinated chicken breasts, and spicy chicken thighs along with onion, mushrooms, red potatoes, and zucchini. Chix breasts were marinated in lemon and lime juice, rose wine, a little garlic powder, and sea salt & black pepper.
Sunday - hiked the route described in map below (and at left) from the Bootjack lot trailhead... very warm weather...
Trail map plans for this Sunday's (June 8) hike highlighted in yellow. Our trailhead will be the Bootjack parking lot off of Panoramic Hwy. We will head out Matt Davis Trail, take a left on the Nora Trail up to West Point Inn, and then the Rock Springs Tr. to the Mountain Theater. That same Sunday is the running of the Dipsea Foot Race which starts in Mill Valley and ends in Stinson Beach. It's an age and speed handicapped race, so usually someone over 45 years old wins.
Lately it's been very windy affecting the bike commute -- the evenings have been much worse than normal and even yesterday morning it was extra windy (rare event). I can deal with the hills but constant winds of 25+ mph in your face with gusts well over 30 mph, that usually sucks! This morning's was nice, normal, and pretty much calm -- that means it's going to warm up as this late spring weather has been much below normal in temperature (fine with me!).
Sunday - Hogback, R.R. Grade, West Pt. Inn, Nora Trail, Matt Davis to Hoo-Koo-E-Koo, RR Grade, and Gravity Car return to dirt parking lot next to Throckmorton fire station near Mountain Home Inn.
Photo at left: wife & I on the Nora Trail, descending from the West Point Inn. (I set my camera on the 10-second self timer and ran into place after pre-focusing, EOS 40D, ISO 200, 1/40, f/5.6, 26mm)
The 1 km climb starting out of Hogback fire road is very steep; at the top we took a left on the gradual, smooth climb up Old RR Grade to then historic West Point Inn. We lingered for 20 minutes at the Inn, first time for Cindy there. The views all around this hike are spectacualarly rewarding. This is the first time I've actually hiked on RR Grade having mountain-biked it numerous times the past 10 years.
Hand written trail map for today. Cindy writes the "milepost" totals at each major junction (and this hiking loop was found as hike B10 in Cindy's book as a fairly difficult hike). The high elevation point on this hike is the West Pt. Inn. From the Inn (built in 1904) we took the Nora Trail through a forest of small redwoods down to the Matt Davis Trail where we took a left (eastward). Then we hooked up with the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo trail (not the fire road to the N. of Tam) and took it across Hogback all the way to the Railroad Grade fire road double bow knot. We left the bow knot descending back to our trailhead on the gentle Gravity Car grade fire road. Total hiking was 2 hours with another approx. 30 minutes "resting." For me this hiking would be a lot easier (hands free!) if I didn't carry even my modest camera equipment -- a Canon DSLR body and a couple select lenses. But then, who would be documenting this awesome stuff?! Ha ha, LOL.
State Park trail map snippet. Our trailhead for today's start/finish is at the lower right in this map -- the Throckmorton Fire Station.
"Secluded among the trees on the upper south slope of Mt. Tamalpais, the Inn was once a stopover for passengers who rode the "Crookedest Railroad in the World" up from Mill Valley to the top of the mountain. The railroad is gone now, but the Inn remains as a haven for hikers and a monument to the rich historic heritage of the region. The sweeping panoramic view from West Point Inn includes much of the East Bay, parts of San Francisco, the Marin Headlands, one tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, and out over the Pacific Ocean."
Terry Hoage (photo top right) 13 years in the NFL as a D-back now his own winery along with his wife.
Fun, hilly 6.2 mile hike from Pantoll Station, through Muir Woods and back: the loop was from the Pan Toll station/campground trailhead, trails Stapelveldt to Ben Johnson, through a section of Muir Woods, to Fern Creek, to Sierra, thru Alice Eastwood Camp (brief rest), Sierra to Troop 80 and Alpine. The last 4 trails are all climbing.
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